Wayne Brady balances financial, artistic
Brady is fast on his way to becoming the hardest-working man in
A paid entertainer since 16, Brady currently has three
shows on network television -- a figure even Regis would find intimidating.
Brady, now 29, grew up in Orlando, Fla., where he
did plays and trained in improv with the Sak Theater Company. Eventually,
Brady began performing in musical and dramatic theater in Las Vegas
and even on cruise ships, which was great training for dealing with
audiences in an impromptu manner. He often was called upon to stall
when acts were running late, or to pacify and entertain audiences
when the shows just flat out stunk.
Brady moved to Los Angeles in 1996, doing theater
and landing guest spots on TV shows such as "I'll Fly Away,"
"Home Court," and "In the Heat of the Night."
This led to hosting gigs on shows such as VH1's "Vinyl
Justice," KABC's "Countdown to the American Music Awards,"
and "Safe Night." In 1997, Brady was cast in the British
version of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" and in 1998 he joined
the American, Drew Carey-hosted version. His profile greatly increased,
his career took off immediately. He quickly became a show favorite,
even garnering a 2001 Emmy nomination.
Whose Line led to Wayne getting his own show on ABC.
"The Wayne Brady Show" is a full blown,
old fashioned variety show. Wayne and crew do comedic skits, musical
numbers and improv with the participation of both the audience and
The success of that show has led to Wayne getting
his third show. His new endeavor, as yet untitled, is a daytime
talk/variety show set to premiere in August 2002, and which Brady
says will combine celebrity chat with the same type of raucous entertainment
audiences have come to appreciate on his current show -- which is
also set to continue.
Bankrate spoke to Brady about the finances of his
career in show business.
BANKRATE.COM: Was doing
the kind of shows you are now doing always a goal of yours? Or are
these just opportunities that presented themselves?
WAYNE BRADY: They are
opportunities that came up, and I said yes because I looked at the
marketplace. When I first started doing (the American) Whose Line
in 1998, I got offered a development deal. But I started to get
a fan base because of Whose Line, and people liked me not because
of a character that I play, a wacky neighbor, but because they want
Wayne. So for me to have accepted a sitcom role, and taken on a
character that may have turned people off because it wasn't me,
that didn't make any sense. What did make sense was a personality-driven
vehicle. So that's what I tried to develop.
Bankrate: So you turned
down numerous offers for sitcoms, then?
Brady: Yes, sir.
Bankrate: Was that a
Brady: When someone sticks
a huge amount of money in your face, of course it's a frightening
proposition, but you have to make a choice. I took the long term
over the short term. If you get a bunch of money one day but don't
have a superior product, then that money will run out, and your
reputation will be tarnished. Your work won't be respected, and
you won't generate any more money. So I said, "What do I need
to do to stick around?"
Bankrate: How much money
did you turn away?
Brady: I can't tell you
that. C'mon. But I'd like to think it has come back to me and more.
Bankrate: So many performers
go through a starving artist phase at the beginning of their career.
Brady: I've been doing
this since I was 16. Doing cruise ships and road shows was waiting
tables for me. Did I have bad gigs? Did I have to eat macaroni and
cheese? Oh yeah. But I've been very fortunate in that I've always
worked in the profession that I wanted to work in. I never waited
tables, and never had to take a day job.
Bankrate: When did things
begin to turn around for you financially?
Brady: The beginning
of Whose Line -- locking into a good network gig. But even to that
point ... am I well off? Yeah. Am I rich? No. You still have to
work and hope you reach a point where you have financial freedom.
So I'm well off, and I enjoy it, and I'm going to keep on busting
my butt because no matter how well you think you're doing and everything
is great, everyone hits a rough spot. I would like to be prepared
for the rough spot, so I don't rest.
Bankrate: Are you the
Bankrate: Do you follow
Brady: I don't follow
the market; my business manager does. He checks in with me. I've
become a little more involved because I know the state of the market
right now. So we have talked, and have a financial plan. I told
him the first time I met with him a few years ago, "I just
want to get to a place where I can take care of my family. I know
that the way to do that is through investments, so help me make
those investments." And he's done a really good job of steering
and navigating his way through the financial muck that is the market
Bankrate: Did you take
a hit like everyone else?
Brady: I took a hit,
but I don't think I took an incredibly huge one. We pulled out of
certain stocks and transferred into two other funds and kind of
Bankrate: So you got
out of certain stocks just in time.
Brady: Very much so.
Bankrate: What stocks
did you get out of?
Brady: I can't tell you
the specific ones. All I know is that when things looked like they
were heading south, we had an emergency meeting and said OK, I know
we're going to have to bail out of certain ones, and I know I'm going to
take a hit, but let's minimize the damage to the ship, as it were.
Bankrate: Have you been
partial to any particular sector?
Brady: I was partial
to techs only because I'm a big video game fan and a big electronics
geek, so I love anything dealing with the electronic sector. So
some of my first investments were SONY and Nintendo. But I think
the ones that really did well for me were pharmaceuticals and the
Bankrate: Is that where
you're concentrating on now?
-- Posted: April 1, 2002