Damon Young is a co-founder of VerySmartBrothas, author of Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime, and a contributing editor at Ebony Magazine (digital). He’s also a producer and head writer of a TV pilot loosely based on the book—a project featured at the New York Television Festival in November of 2013.
Hannah Spivey: Hello, Damon. How are you?
Damon Young: I’m doing great. Thanks for asking.
Hannah Spivey: For those who aren’t familiar with your and your work, please divulge some details.
Damon Young: A few years ago (it’ll be six in March), a friend (Panama Jackson) and I got together to create VerySmartBrothas.com (VSB). We each already had our own popular personal blogs, and we decided to merge to form a place where we’d riff about the topics that our readers seemed to be most interested in — dating, relationships, and sex. We then reached out to another friend (Liz Burr), to basically handle all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into launching and maintaining a blog.
VSB became very popular very quickly, leading to multiple awards, magazine features, paid speaking appearances, and even a book — and a TV pilot based on that book. And, as we grew, we moved away from the relationship-based content and began to write more about pop culture, race, politics, and any other subject that caught our attention.
I’ve been fortunate enough to use VSB’s popularity as a springboard to my own career. I’m now a contributing editor at EBONY Magazine (digital) and I write weekly columns at Complex Magazine and Madame Noire. I’ve also written for The Root, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Clutch Magazine, The Good Men Project, and The Loop 21.
Hannah Spivey: So, tell our readers about an average day is like for you as an author and editor?
Damon Young: Between my daily EBONY work (which requires me to be up at 7:30 am) VSB (I usually write my new entries there between 9pm and midnight), and everything in-between, I technically have a 16 hour long work day. I say “technically” because I’m definitely not working each of those hours. I make time to eat, go to the gym, watch the NBA league pass, etc. And, my fiancee takes up a bit of time too. But, while I make sure to take breaks, I am usually available to work in some fashion each hour I’m awake.
Hannah Spivey: Tell us about your latest book
Damon Young: Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime is a tongue-in-cheek look at dating, relationships, and sex. As the title suggests, it’s a light and fun read from the perspectives of two “Very Smart” Black guys (Panama and I) trying to figure this relationship stuff out, and offering our own insights and observations along the way.
Hannah Spivey: What are you currently working on?
Damon Young: Along with the aforementioned TV pilot, I have three pretty big projects I’m working on right now. I can’t divulge too many details right now, but I will say one involves VSB and the other two involve new books.
Hannah Spivey: Who did you have the opportunity to work with in the industry?
Damon Young: There’s one half of a degree of separation in the Black blog/social media world. Pretty much all of the popular 30-something Black bloggers, writers, and producers, from Demetria Lucas and Paul Brunson to Awesomely Luvvie and Afrobella, know each other and have worked together in some fashion.
Hannah Spivey: Who would you like to work with in the industry?
Damon Young: I’ve always been a huge Angela Nissel fan. The Broke Diaries is still one of my favorite books, and I’ve always appreciated her sense of humor.
Hannah Spivey: What do you many people not know about you?
Damon Young: I’m sure there’s a ton. And some of that I’d like to keep, um, unknown. But here’s two somewhat interesting tidbits
1. Panama and I didn’t actually meet each other in person until 2011.
2. I went to college on a full basketball scholarship.
Hannah Spivey: What and who inspires you to keep going?
Damon Young: Creatively, space motivates me. What I mean is that I see a ton of room to grow as a writer/producer, and I also know there’s a ton of people I haven’t been able to reach (yet.) That space between where I am now and the realization of my potential is what keeps me going. I’m working everyday to close that gap.
I also know that the closer I come to realizing that potential, the better equipped I’ll be at providing for my family. So the creative motivation has a direct personal tie.
Hannah Spivey: How can people find you and connect with you?
Damon Young: You can find my work at VerySmartBrothas.com, Complex.com, EBONY.com, Post-Gazette.com, and Ishbougieblackpeoplelove.tumblr.com. I can be reached at @verysmartbros