Michael Dapaah: The MultiHyphenate
By Shannen Thierry
Social media stars are constantly put into a box. Influencers, YouTubers and comedians alike have struggled to be taken seriously as real actors, musicians, writers, etc. Michael Dapaah is breaking down all these barriers and showing that you don’t just have to be one thing. Although Dapaah is best known as a comedian he can also act, rap, direct and write and he does so quite successfully. Here at BELLO, we got to know a bit more behind the man known as “Big Shaq” from his successes to his fears and more.
You gained a very large following very quickly. What was it like going from a “regular guy” to someone people recognize on the street?
I was always popular in my area, so I was used to getting a certain amount of attention growing up from people locally. When I started to pursue my gifts in comedy and entertainment this just began to multiply outside of my area to people recognizing me and asking for pictures etc in the most unexpected places. When I began the SWIL series, then released music, this is what really exposed me to a bigger audience, then global attention. It could be overwhelming at times as you totally lose your privacy in some instances as someone always recognizes you and can’t do normal things as before, however a blessing at the same time, you get to connect with people and see how what you do affects them in a positive way.
What was it like seeing big names like Drake and Liam Gallagher react to ‘Man’s Not Hot’?
Drake is someone that embraced me very early on when I was just doing skits on instagram, him and his team continued to show me love on the rise, regarding the song he dm’d me and was like ‘thanks for making the whole world laugh bro, the tune is fire too’. Felt surreal at first but when we met I learned to embrace it. Regarding Liam, he’s an absolute legend him and his brother, I was just grateful he took time to show me love, and the energy was the same when we eventually met.
What made you want to start SWIL?
Observation of my environment, things I’ve seen growing up, people I have encountered and wanting to bring some of the ideas in my head to life. It’s always been apart of a bigger plan, I have always been a fan of mockumentary , sketch shows and sitcoms in general. I wanted to bring something to the market place from my perspective, I noticed there was a gap for it, people liked the short form stuff so wanted to turn it into a proper production.
What has the success of the show meant for you?
It has meant everything, it began as a seed which I discussed with my co director Marv Brown and to see people react the way they have to it just shows me that my ideas are valid and there is an audience globally that enjoy the show. It’s made me want to bring more to the market place, different formats of ideas but also make it the absolute best it can be. It will always be my baby almost, it’s allowed me to change my life and be embraced as a multi hyphenate, that writes, acts, directs and makes music.
I saw that you tackled your fear of heights by skydiving. What are other fears you have tackled in life?
Heights has been a huge one for me and any opportunity I get to conquer it I go for it. I recently walked across the Canopy walk in Kakum national park in Ghana which is 30 metres above the ground just to reinforce to myself that my fear of heights is fully conquered. I use to have a phobia of dogs, I was bitten by one in South Africa when I was 6 years old, it literally climbed over a fence and charged at me and bit me on my stomach. For years I was scared of them, and other 4 legged creatures however I have overcome that fear and embrace animals now.
Are there any comedians that you take inspiration from?
There are several the list is endless but I’ll name a few , Eddie Murphy, Kevin Hart, the late great Bernie Mac, he’s probably my favourite, Chris Tucker, John Whitherspoon, from the UK; David Walliams, and Matt Lucas . I am also a fan of Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Gina Yashere and the Wayans brothers, as I said I could be here all day but these are just to name a few. Oh Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry also, I think I’ll stop here, all will be name dropping. I appreciate them all even going back to Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, Bill Burr, being able to make people laugh I think is a gift that comes from God, you either have it or you don’t, so I embrace them all!
What’s your favorite song at the moment?
Probably Roddy Rich ‘High Fashion’, I think the production on it is great.
What TV show would people be surprised to know you watch?
Sex Education on Netflix, it’s shot amazingly, great storylines, some elements remind me of when I was younger
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
A well accomplished, Actor, comedian, musician and writer who is producing shows, films, content, music not only for myself but for others. I want to make sure I am inspiring and motivating people through the work that we do. As there is no I in team, I want Dapaah Ent, to be responsible for some of the best entertainment to grace the earth.
Photography BONNIE NICHOALDS @bonnienichoalds
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandsteph
Styling AMBIKA B. SANJANA @styledbyambika
Styling Assistant ELLE JEFFREY @ellejeffreystylz @ellejeffreystylz
Grooming SARAH HUGGINS @mrsarah__
Production @BELLOMediaGroup x @Maisonpriveepr_la x @bonnetalex18