Words + Interview By: Tyrone Davis
If you are a person who is active on social media, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Wayne “Kountry Wayne” Colley. Aside from comedy, we spoke about him growing up in a small town, racism, taking care of and empowering his family and being responsible for his actions and accepting the consequences of those actions all by putting God first and believing that, “Help Is On The Way”.
How did you blow up on social media?
I started on Facebook in 2014 around September/October. I was putting up these videos and people started to follow me. Facebook pages had started to allow you to have followers and within 7 months, I had over 1 million followers. I stayed consistent and stayed connected.
Why did you choose Facebook over the other platforms?
I was already famous in my hometown on Facebook and I’d seen how Facebook worked. It had longer videos and Instagram only gave you 15 seconds. I wasn’t really into Youtube like that and I just chose something different. Nobody was really paying attention to putting yourself on Facebook. It was an open market.
Facebook has made a lot of changes over the years, particularly with the algorithms that are limiting our reach. How is it working for you now with those changes in place?
Right now….I kind of got through that door, so I’m in. I’m on Instagram now so my engagement is more on Instagram. Facebook, not as much. It’s like the algorithms dropped me way down. I did it when it was hot so you’ll remember me even if I don’t put nothing else up.
A lot of people are famous on social media but not making a living. How have you been able to do both?
You know, the road. I tear the road up. We’re blessed. Over the last 2 or 3 years, I done made about 2 million dollars, just on the road. I transferred the energy from online to now I’ve got them in line. The stand up is where I make the bulk of my income right now.
A lot of the comedians we grew up on say that these new internet comedians have trouble when trying to do real stand up, because stand up is very different than doing a 15 second Vine video. In your experience, you’re doing well. What made you focus on that craft instead of trying to get money via the internet?
Selling products online was never my thing. I believe in me more than I believe in a product. I took it serious and learned the craft and I learned it pretty fast. I took it to the road and they love it. I got better and better.
Speaking of stand up, you have a comedy album out called, “Help Is On The Way”. Growing up, the only comedy album I had heard was “SNAPS: The Album Vol. 1”, which was from a comedy album series where multiple comedians would be on it “playing the dozens” with Hip-Hop music in the background. Some of the comedians on it were Michael Blackson, Talent, AJ Johnson, Faizon Love and also Coolio and Biz Markie. I listened to your project yesterday and one thing that intrigued me about it is that you were able to hold the attention of the audience for the entire album. They laughed the entire time and that doesn’t even happen with major comedians all the time.
Over the last few years, I gave stand up my all. When people pay their hard earned money, I want them to remember Kountry Wayne. If you don’t laugh, I take that personally. I’m trying to figure out, “how can I make this person laugh?”. If I see a person in the crowd that’s not laughing….I’m trying to keep everybody laughing the whole time.
How would you describe your stand up routine? Are you more laid back or are you more active like Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans or Katt Williams?
I definitely move and it varies, depending on the night. With a more corporate crowd, they want you to be more laid back. I adjust it according to the crowd because I know what people want. Most of the time, I’m more animated and moving. On the album, people can listen to what I said, but it just wasn’t what I said, it was what I did when I was saying it that made them laugh.
Yea, I would have loved to see that, man because I laughed quite a few times. I was like, “Man, I don’t know what’s happening, but I can hear it!” People were howling in the crowd. Where did that particular show take place?
I did that one in Atlanta at the Altanta Comedy Theater.
Lets take it back a little bit. You are from Georgia, right?
I grew up in a small town in Georgia (Millen) where there was a lot of racism and no opportunities at all. We had one or two red lights and me, my mom and my 2 sisters stayed in a trailer by a railroad track. My mom died when I was 11 and my dad was nowhere to be found at that time. We connected later in my life. I had a life that some people today will consider hard but to me it was a great experience because I feel like I have an advantage over 99% of the people in this industry. I got that grit and grind and come from a place where the average person can’t come from.
People from NYC and stuff say it’s hard to make it. No, even if you’re in the hood in NYC, you’re 30 miles or 10 miles or 10 blocks away from opportunity vs. where I’m from. It’s 300 miles from Atlanta and impossible to make it out of there so if you do make it out of there, you’ll never have to worry about nothing for the rest of your life.
You mentioned there being racism in the small town. My family is originally from Pulaski, TN where the Ku Klux Klan started and for a while when we’d go down there for our family reunions, we’d see them having rallies downtown. Did you ever experience any racism first hand or did you just feel the affects of it growing up in a your town?
Oh, nah. We had to deal with it personally. There were times were we’d get treated differently. They’d call you the N-word. I remember playing baseball and we had an all black team almost and everybody was expecting us to get last place. We ended up getting first place. I hit a ball and I ran home and I looked at the opposite team’s parents like “Yeah!”, you know? I was talking to them and this guy said, “You little N-word.” I talk back. I was always like that. I use my mouth as my weapon and I will hurt your feelings with my words.
You’re a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys. When Colin Kaepernick was blackballed from the NFL, I stopped watching. It was easy decision even though football became my favorite sport in college. What is your take on it?
Personally, I’m in a different position with it because my fans are going to expect me to watch it and do those videos because that gets them through a hard day. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m not a part of the world. When I did my videos, it was my skits. Kountry Wayne wasn’t a character so when it comes to the NFL, it worked in my favor. I’m talking to my fans and they enjoy the Cowboys. Now if the owner is ignorant….it’s like a child with an ignorant parent. The parent has nothing to do with the child and me not watching it is not going to help the real cause. Colin kneeled for racism.
We need to put more attention into ourselves. That’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is what we do to ourselves, putting drugs and stuff into our temples. It’s larger problems, so I don’t get into that. When I do my cowboy videos, Wayne ain’t in there anyway. I’m not on either side because I’ve been telling people that help is on the way and to love yourselves. I do it with actions. I hired my family as soon as I got on. My 2 sisters, they are retired, my brothers, my wife, her mom…whatever moves I make are for my fans and my people. We got our own world.
They like the Cowboys. I like the Cowboys. I’m going to do my videos. If somebody comes up and says, “Oh, you’re a coon for doing that.” Listen, man. Don’t try me. I done blessed more people…I understand if people don’t support it because it’s wrong. He kneeled and I feel like he got the right to kneel but at the end of the day, let’s be honest. If people want to be REAL real, that’s their league and trust me, their numbers are not going to go down. That’s why black people need to get more businesses so we can control the market and stop trying to push our kids just to go to the NBA and the NFL and be a rapper.
While we are focusing on that, there are still people going to jail. There is so much to focus on. I feel like we’ll waste a lifetime trying to focus on one thing. We need to go back to the roots and that was GOD. That’s all we got. We can fake like we can outwork…no. It’s still their world. If you think it’s not, that’s when we’re tricking ourselves. No matter how hard you work. No matter how much education you get. Your color is still the same and we was 1% of America’s wealth 100’s of years ago and we’re still only 1%. We haven’t made any progress.
I come from the streets. I’ve never got touched. I’ve never picked up drugs. It’s not because I’m better than anybody. It’s because I had the strength because I read that Bible and stayed connected with GOD and that’s all we got. Somebody don’t even believe in GOD no more! There is so much going on so I don’t even get in it. I just do Wayne…..I know that was a long winded answer.
My goal with the interview was to not to focus strictly on comedy. I wanted to get your take on a few other things because I completely understand. Right now, we’re living in a time with social media where people are doing a lot of complaining and not doing basic things like supporting black businesses. A lot of these problems would go away if we’d start to take action and get things done instead of arguing online and going back and forth with white folks about why they should be nicer to us.
It’s too many people talking. That’s what it is. You’ve got rappers telling people, “Don’t do this and don’t do that” but in the songs, you’re telling these young people that drinking lean and popping pills is cool. You (rappers) stop talking. Its too many people talking and it’s messing with our brains because now, we don’t know who to listen to.
You mentioned that one of the things you’re doing is changing the trajectory of your family by hiring them and bringing them along. The saying goes, “friends and family are the worst people to deal with”, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people empower their families, they empower their friends and they make things happen. What has your experience been like?
It’s been enjoyable, you know? We have our ups and downs. You’ve got to teach them. Of course, they aren’t going to know off the rip because nobody has taught them. You’ve got to make sacrifices. They say, “don’t hire your family” but you’ll go out and buy a Lamborgini so if you’re going to waste money on a Lamborgini you might as well waste that money on your family, teaching them. If you teach anybody, they will learn. People can’t be telling me bout Colin Kaepernick but not looking out for the ones around them.
God says, “Help your neighbor”. He didn’t say help the guy across town. The guy across town ain’t your neighbor. It’s common sense. When you come up, touch the people around you first because that’s going to be the example. That’s like me helping a kid in the street, but I haven’t helped my kids first. That’s backwards. So ay man, I enjoy it. It’s my family and they’re going to ask you for money anyway so it’s an investment. You teach them that system and that system can grow. One thing about family is at least you know them.
You don’t normally see people having as many children as our great-great grandparents did. How many do you have and how are you managing?
I have 9 kids. I’ve been blessed. My dad had a lot of kids and he didn’t take care of us like that and I noticed he used to have a lot of bad luck. I took care of my kids from day one. It’s really blessings but in the world they’ll call it luck. I’ve been a lucky Mother F’er. Every since I had those kids, I was in the streets and I didn’t get touched and I made it out of the streets. I’ve been on probation for 10 years before and got off probation. It’s been a great journey.
Your kids is like your business coming up because you’re their hero. If you start a business, they’re going to do what you tell them to so you’ve got some faithful people coming up around you. It’s hard to find one friend. I got 9. It’s a mess but everything is a mess until you put GOD in it, then it becomes a blessing. I’m the happiest man in the world. That doesn’t mean I have the most money in the world. I figured life out and I’ve been happy before comedy. I was good. My kids were taken care of. I had 2 night clubs. My kids are a big part of that because they give me that energy. Me and my kids are cool. My wife, we have 4 kids. I moved the mother of my 3 kids 3 miles from us and my other 2 are still in my hometown. We are a big family. We all hang out at my house when I’m home. It’s a dream come true.
Has dealing with the system, child support and things of that nature been an issue for you?
I think when you deal with a woman, you know who she is before you even deal with her. So, if she had an attitude or was kind of petty, you knew that anyway. I just take the consequences that come with it. As long as my kids are straight, I don’t try to complain or shorten the household because they’re going to take the money and by clothes with it for themselves. That’s common sense. That’s human nature.
With me, I still have a big part in what they do and how they handle my kids. As long as I got that, they’re going to take a little extra money and get their hair done. That’s why it’s said to not have that many kids anyway but when you do something, it’s consequences. To have multiple women and multiple kids, you have to make sure that you’re that type of guy that can handle that person. You can’t do it, then go to the system and cry. I already knew my baby mamas was ratchet and everything before I dealt with them so I expected them to go to child support, talk loud and put statuses on Facebook. I can’t go to the system now like I’m spending too much money, nah man. I got that mentality about everything. Whatever I do, I accept the consequences. That’s what we get. We shouldn’t have done it.
There are a lot of issues between men and women, the #metoo movement is going on and people are having a hard time getting along.
Most of the time men and women deal with each other, some type of influence (drugs, alcohol, etc.) is involved. It’s a bigger problem underneath that nobody ever talks about. We’re real good at lying and they fall for it just like we fall for stuff. As a whole, that’s something we need to be kneeling for. Black men need to start taking care of their kids instead of worrying about the NFL and them kneeling.
I got my brothers with me because my daddy wasn’t there, but he was out there with a new car. He was out there with different women. A guy will lay with them but when it’s time for them kids, they’re doing the bare minimum. “Here go $100” and they think that $100 is going to last their baby mama a whole month. Come on, man. Let’s be real. It takes money to raise these children. Stop having them. If you ain’t no go-getter then man, step it on. Y’all kiss and hug and play house. Don’t put no kids in your mess. You know, you’re asking me a lot of questions. That’s why I don’t like answering these types of questions because I be telling the truth, lol.
Man, listen. This is exactly what I wanted from you. A lot of times, comedians are expected to be funny all the time and sometimes, you just want them to turn that off. I just wanted a conversation. I don’t want you to crack jokes. That’s what the stage is for. It’s like growing up and going to school with the class clown who never wants to be serious. We know your comedy online so I just wanted to touch on some topics that really matter. In addition to being drug and alcohol free, you are also vegan. Elaborate.
I kept seeing my grandma’nem get their legs cut off and I was like, “Hell nah”. When you grow up in the country, everybody got diabetes and is taking medicine. Something ain’t right. I was on the rode with this power company and I was 22. I had went to the doctor and they said I had kidney problems. They gave me some medicine. I was like, “I’m 22!” but what it was, was that I was drinking all of that sweet tea on the road. I just started drinking water at first but then I started seeing results with the change in my diet. Everything changed. My thought process is quicker. When I get sick, my body heals itself. I don’t take medicine. It all came from me seeing my family having, as we call it in the country, “The Sugar”.
Me personally, I love to be the best. I like to sneak and get good at something and let everybody see results. It’s like my stand up. I don’t even promote how good I am. I just like people to come see it. “How’d Kountry Wayne got good?!” It’s because I’ve been putting in that work. People will ask me “How’d your skin get like that?” It’s because I’ve stopped eating certain things. I don’t tell people not to eat. I tell them to eat better. Eat organic chicken. I’m not a preacher. I don’t push nothing on nobody. I just do what I do and hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do what I do. The vegan thing changed my life. Not just physically, but spiritually.
What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?
A vegetarian will still eat cheese (dairy). A vegan won’t eat no dairy or anything that comes from an animal. No cheese, no milk, no butter. There are other things like almond milk, vegan burgers, vegan cheese, etc. Vegetarians just don’t eat nothing in the form of the meat itself.
Alright, man. We’re getting to the tail end of this thing. I want to touch on your faith. Would you consider your comedy, ? “Christian Comedy”?
People say the word “Christian” but I don’t even go to church like that. I’m not religious. I just believe in God and I’m more transparent. I got 9 kids at the age of 30 so I don’t even put that pressure on myself and pretend like I don’t look at other women. Come on, man. I’m human. I’m just an example that God will meet you where you’re at.
So, I don’t be on the stage having everybody grab hands and pray. I go out there and do Kountry Wayne, just like Bernie Mac or Robin Harris. It’s kind of confusing to people because I talk about God. I live it. God doesn’t tell you to wear a suit and hold a bible. God tells you to take care of your neighbors who are the people right beside you, the people that you love.
How have you handled fame thus far?
I’m handling it well. I’m dealing with the same people I dealt with before the fame. It really doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been popular and I was the #1 person in my hometown. Fame didn’t change me. I’m still the same Wayne Colley.
Lastly, let’s talk about the phrase, “Help Is On The Way”. What does that mean to you?
If you believe and you keep trying, help is on the way. If you have a car note and you don’t have that money, all the way up to that day, believe that something is going to come through. If you believe and you wake up everyday with that attitude, It’s going to be a lovely life. Help is on the way.
Follow Kountry Wayne on Twitter @kountry_wayne, on Instagram @KountryWayne and on Facebook: Wayne Colley (Kountry Wayne).
Photo By: Elton Anderson Jr.