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Dormtainment has made itself adaptable to all forms of media by sticking to the age-old rule: Be yourself.
Every morning at 10am, the six gentlemen of Dormtainment gather in the living room of their shared three-bedroom Hollywood apartment to begin their day’s work. Together, they write, rewrite, dissolve into laughing fits, film, edit, upload, make their audience of 709,000 subscribers keel over in laughter—and then they do it all over again the next day.
Dormtainment is made up of six best friends—Chaz Miller, Cameron Miller, Amanuel Richards, Jerome “Rome” Green, Mike Anthony, and Daunte “Tay” Dier — and runs on a chemistry that takes years of inside jokes and “you had to be there” moments to develop. Each member adds a different ingredient to the mix: Tay, the self-described ghetto nerd; Rome, the group-described ladies man; Chaz, the health enthusiast; Mike, the charmer whose unintentionally blunt; Amanuel, the leader without the proper tools; and Cam, the class clown who is simultaneously the most responsible of the group. The group’s care for one another is easily apparent as they finish the others’ thoughts and joke about living together forever.
Dormtainment originally began creating comedy sketches on YouTube in 2009 before expanding their brand to include live comedy shows, merchandise, musical albums, and traditional media collaborations.
“Our goals were to always get better as creators, and I feel like that’s the biggest thing we try to do [with] everything is just get better,” says Mike, a handful of snacks crammed into his cheeks. “Whether it’s just watching something or reading a script, just try to make yourself better and never feel like you’re good. That’s just the motto we live by.”
Over the years, the group has racked up numerous viral hits—“Straight Out of Dunwoody,” “Ass on the Internet,” “Harlem Shake (1st Black Version)”—but credits consistency as the reason for their success.
“I’d definitely take the consistent, quality content over one viral video [and] then all of a sudden nothing,” states Chaz. Mike adds: “We have consistent content that our fans and people really adapt to, and they want to see it next week. They’re not just going to watch it and share it and never come back, but what’s next week!”
Though Dormtainment got its start on YouTube, the group is quick to correct that they identify not as YouTubers but as entertainers—ready to adapt to all platforms. Their content borders on unprecedented territory, both in traditional and digital media, as it has created a space for black creators to present genuine representations of themselves rather than the supporting characters often assigned to them by Hollywood. By doing this, Dormtainment has made itself adaptable to all forms of media by sticking to the age old rule: Be yourself.
“When you make videos that are more about you, or more about your style,” explains Tay, “you can go to TV because you just take your style and put it on TV. We do live shows, and people come to live shows, and they’re not going to expect a vlog; they expect an extension of ourselves.”
Last year, the group made the decision to move from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to pursue their dream of growing into a production company. And while the move has given them access to an amazing new network of contacts, it also came with a series of drawbacks, including sharing one Honda among six people and a rotation of each group member having to sleep in the living room.
“People need to see these things. They think we’re out here living the life!” Rome laughs after sharing he’s already served his time in the living room. “We’re living the life that we [want]. We’re not going to work every day—we’re going to work in our group doing something we love—but at the same time, we still got to get gas, we still got to pay rent, we still got to get groceries, so it’s hard.”
Tay explains, “We know there’s been a big YouTuber move to L.A. This is definitely a good move for us, but it’s not the [only] answer out there.” Following up, Mike retorts, “And it depends on what your goals are like. If you don’t want to get into TV and Hollywood, then you don’t need to be here.”
For Dormtainment, TV and Hollywood are only two of many stepping stones on their path to dominate the world of entertainment. This year alone, the guys released a comedy album titled “Lost Tapes,” are in post-production on a webseries for Comedy Central, plan to publish a cookbook, and have still managed to put out a comedy sketch every Sunday.
Their upcoming Comedy Central webseries will highlight the trials and tribulations the group faces in L.A. and give Dormtainment fans insight into the group’s daily life. The collaboration originally started in November 2011 after Comedy Central watched the group’s “Straight Out of Dunwoody” video.
“I mean everybody has different personalities and it’s kind of hard… Well not hard, but watching the sketches, it’s hard to get a feel for everyone,” says Tay on the new webseries. “Now, you’ll see more of Chaz’s personality, how he likes to stay fit constantly and stuff.”
“And constantly eating,” adds Mike.
Webseries, albums, and YouTube fame—it’s your move, Dormtainment.
Photo via Dormtainment.com
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.