As a teen he landed roles as extras in movies shot here, and later became known nationally when he was a featured performer in the music video for Mary J. Blige's hit "Family Affair."
When he moved to L.A. to take his career to the next level, he found that he had a talent as a hype man - the person responsible for getting the crowd pumped up before the tapings of TV shows, or on the red carpet where he appeared on awards shows for Nickelodeon and BET.
"I had no idea I could develop a skill that would be in demand," he said. This summer, he'll be hyping the national Dub Magazine's Auto and Concert Tour, which makes a stop in Charlotte on June 23.
Known professionally as "The Prince of Hype," he's now calling Charlotte his home base again because it's so easy to fly out of here for his entertainment and hype gigs.
When he was living full-time in L.A., one of his secrets for standing out in the crowd was using an article of clothing to help him get noticed, especially if it showed he was from the South. One of his favorites was a Charlotte Bobcats hat.
That's ironic since Devan turned his hype skills to the Charlotte Bobcats this year. Not an easy task, but he loved every minute of it. "You can knock a champion down, but you can't knock a champion out," he told me. "There's always next season."
I asked him for his tips on how people can use the wisdom and craft he's learned as a hype man to be their own best cheerleader professionally and personally. Here's what he had to say:
Professional Hype Tips:
- Your first job is to have fun - that sets the tone and pace. Leave your issues and situations at the door when you come to work.
- You have to believe in what you're doing or you won't succeed.
- You're only as good as your last game,project or deal. Even if things aren't going well, you still have to give 110 percent.
- You have to be loyal. No matter what is happening, always give your best. Whatever you're doing, you're a part of history at that moment.
- To get people excited about your business, you have to understand your audience and what motivates them. You also have to be selfless. It's not about you, it's about connecting with others and getting them energized.
Personal Hype Tips:
- Don't be afraid of change. You have to reinvent yourself to stay current.
- Always remember that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
- We all have a talent we're supposed to execute while we're here on Earth. If you don't know what yours is yet, stay open-minded and don't be shy. Get out there and try things.
- Never stop learning. (Even though Devan has been in the entertainment business for 13 years now, he is always developing his skills and working on his craft every day.)
- No matter what your dream is, always have an education to fall back on. It will help keep you grounded. (Devan uses his degree from UNC Charlotte as a project manager on construction jobs when he doesn't have a gig lined up.)
- You can do anything you want to do. There are no limitations except the ones we put on ourselves.
- Learn to love a challenge, and always find a way to contribute positively to your community.