Desi Banks: the One Man Act

From Vine to Primetime, why you should get to know Desi Banks.

(Photographer: Victoria Marie / Courtesy of @iamdesibanks)

 

Who is Desi Banks? “, has become a popular question that has surfaced everywhere.  Since captivating laughter from his viral video that introduced him to Vine then later his popularity on the internet, Desi Banks has managed to create a brand that has grown into a powerhouse of entertainment. This Atlanta native proves himself to be a charismatic, comedian genius that serves as all of your favorite people combined into one.  You might know him for his characters Lil Johnny, Grandma Nana, Uncle Earl, or Keisha, but he’s also finding his way to the stage doing standup, as well as acting.

From being featured in movies like ‘Love by Chance’ alongside Terri J. Vaughn, Clifton Powell, and Black Panther’s Atwandwa Kani, or collaborating with Wild N’ Out star B. Simone to create unremitting content; he’s always working. With a Youtube Channel accumulating 20,967,859 views and counting, as well as an Instagram following of  1 million, it’s only a matter of time before Desi Banks becomes a household name and everyone knows who he is.

 

“The first video that I ever did, went viral. That’s what sparked me.”

Although Desi Banks has naturally been a comedian all of his life, it wasn’t until a friend suggested he join an online video community called ‘Vine’ to showcase his personality on a larger scale.  “I started Vine in 2012. I was introduced to it by a friend named Rashad Ponder, he told me, ‘Man, I think you should get on vine.’ I was like, ‘What is vine?’ He told me, ‘It’s this thing where people do funny videos’. So, I was like cool, I’ll see what it’s about because it was always in me, the funny, and my humor growing up. But I was in sports as well, so I didn’t take it seriously then as how I’m taking it seriously now. It’s so crazy; the first video that I ever did [on Vine] went viral. That’s what sparked me and had me like ‘wow’. I was shocked and surprised. But then again like I said, I still wasn’t taking it as serious.”

 

“I had to get closer to God, and ask ‘What is it that you really have for me?'”

It wouldn’t be until Banks’ career in football failed, he graduated from Georgia State University in 2015, and after Vine was shut down that he began to finally pursue comedy in a capacity more than he could imagine. “I had to get closer to God, and ask God, ‘What is it that you really have for me?’ Hence, that’s when I was able to find myself. When I found myself, I had to learn that life is about purpose. What is it that we do to make the world a better place? – I was able to have a gift and a talent for something that I can share with the world, make people feel good, inspire, and make people go chase their dreams. Once I found that I found everything.”

“I’m just so thankful and I try to keep my mind set on that each and every day. Just knowing it’s not about me, but it’s about the other people that are out there. I have to wake up to see the other people. That’s why I do what I do. In football, it was just a one-man thing. It wasn’t going to be that broad as it is now. God had something bigger and beyond for me that I never even thought about.  Now, I’m acting, doing standup, in class, and dominant on social media. I’m just building my platform, my brand and bringing positivity into the world. “

“It’s all true, and real life – what you all see.”

Not only is Banks bringing positivity into the world, he’s also bringing quality content. Whether it’s just him playing multiple roles as one of his characters, or if it’s collaborations with other popular comedians like Reggie Couz and B. Simone – he shows just how multitalented he really is. When it comes to his notable characters, “all of those characters are real. Mama Resa (Grandma Nana), Ms. Theresa, is my grandma. Lil Johnny is me when I was a kid. Uncle Earl was my real uncle on my father’s side; his name was Earl Lee, that’s where I got it from. The lady who plays the voiceover Keisha is how my mom used to be with me growing up as well. It’s all true and real life what you all see.”

 

“I was just finding my connection to the things I wanted to do.”

Also, “having a sitcom is one of my biggest goals of what I want to do. That’s why you may see some of the work that I do, I put storylines together. I add characters together, and I use the same characters because those are characters that I want to have a part of a show that I want to do.” A part of his characters and storylines also follow a couple, played by Banks and B. Simone, who is referred to as the new modern ‘Martin and Gina’.  They even have a parody song together that originated from one of their skits called, ‘No Mo D**k’ produced by DJ Suede the Remix God.

“I feel like it’s a great connection. B actually connected to me on social media. She hit me up around March of last year. She was like, ‘Hey, I like your work. I want to get up and do some stuff with you.’  I was like ‘okay, cool.’ We probably did a video like June or July, maybe July. Ever since then everything has been good, and I was just finding my connection to the things I wanted to do.”

 

“Life is about purpose. We’re not going to be here forever.”

When tackling that checklist of more opportunities and things to fulfill, Banks definitely feels that he’s in a prime location to make it all happen.  “Growing up, it [Atlanta, GA] wasn’t always like this. This is something new. But, now that it’s here and I’m involved in this type of atmosphere, it is amazing. It’s so many opportunities out there for what I’m doing. I’m so excited and grinding out here for it. I’m building my brand and platform for it. I just feel like it’s something good right now, being an ‘atlien’. You know, we don’t have to go to LA or Hollywood to get to opportunities now because everything is coming down here now. So, I’m very thankful about that.”

 

“Terri J. Vaughn is an amazing, sweet person that I learned so much from. She gave me great advice.”

A few of his latest opportunities included Banks being featured on 50 Cent and Bill Bellamy’s website as an upcoming comedian for 2018, and a role in the movie ‘Love By Chance’ starring Terri J. Vaughn and Clifton Powell. “I just want to say it was an amazing experience. Terri J. Vaughn is an amazing, sweet person that I learned so much from. She gave me great advice, an actor’s standpoint from being a comedian, and just being in entertainment and the industry.”

Also, “She told me to, ‘stay humble’, that I ‘had the talent’, and to ‘never change’ who I am. And as far as acting, she said to,’ stay in acting class no matter how much I feel I’ve gotten good. Stay in class to keep that momentum going’. Being able to get that experience for the set of a movie it just really opened my eyes to say,’ I’m really doing something’ and that ‘I can really do it’. That gave me the connection to everything. I’m just very thankful to be able to get around people I used to watch growing up. I just feel like that’s big. It’s mind-blowing.”

 

“I salute everybody that was able to be nominated for the hard work they have put in [at the BET Social Awards].”

Banks has also had the opportunity to attend the inaugural BET Social Awards, and although he wasn’t nominated, it was still an honor to experience first-hand. “It was pretty cool to see the people that have been working hard on social media to get to that level and even be nominated for the talents that they do have.  I feel like it’s an amazing thing. It motivates me to go harder and grind. It’s fine that I didn’t get nominated. It doesn’t stop me from doing what I do; it’s more than enough opportunities out here. God will bless you beyond different things, so I salute everybody that was able to be nominated for the hard work they have put in. God has great things in store. That’s all I can say about that.”

 

“Just doing and being able to do what I used to fear…..is amazing.”

The future is definitely bright for Banks, and everything has only marked the beginning. “Right now, I’m auditioning for different films and tv-shows. I’m building my own production and creating my own material from networking. Also, I’m actually doing standup right now, and I will have 3 shows this month. I am just building my brand, from acting to standup; every day is a grind to get to that next level.”

Out of his many rewards from his hard work thus far and having the opportunity to showcase his talents on a grand scale, Banks has an undeniable victory that is the pinnacle of his success. “Just doing and being able to do what I used to fear is my favorite of it all. Once I overcome a fear I feel like that’s the best thing ever. That’s when you’re going to be able to take things to another level. Once I dealt with my fears, that was the best thing ever.”

 

Desi Banks’ advice to anyone pursuing anything in entertainment: “Continue to grind, and keep the faith.”

In mirror to his success, a piece of advice Banks would leave to any aspiring comedians, actors, and other entertainers are “to find their purpose. Life is about purpose. You’re not going to be here forever. Find something that you can give and make positive to the world. Or change someone’s life. It’s not about the fame, the money, and the cars. While it’s good to have, not saying that I don’t want that but at the end of the day it isn’t about that. I think it’s about being a leader and being different to not be like everyone else. It takes a lot. A lot of people don’t want to be different. I would say just be yourself and stay in your own lane. Also, continue to grind, and keep the faith.”

(Photographer: Victoria Marie / Courtesy of @iamdesibanks)

If you want to catch Desi Banks in action, be sure to stay updated with his latest projects by following him on social media via ‘@iamDesiBanks on Instagram,  and ‘@AmbitionBanks5’ on Twitter. Also, for longer clips of Desi Banks’ work, check out his Youtube ‘Desi Banks’ or see him live in action during his standup and comedy tours.

Emani Sewell

KontrolTV Beauty Content Coordinator / Current Events Writer

A GA native who is considered a "Jackie of all trades". With broad experience in: Multimedia Journalism, Production, Live Events, Marketing, and Community Service/Outreach, there is simply nothing she cannot do. She has managed to work with brands like: iHeartMedia, AMB Sports + Entertainment, Fox, and A3C Music Festival & Conference. Emani serves as a freelance audio animator and now a curator. Be on the look out for her latest updates by following Emani on social media at @EmaniSunday