Wayans, Damon 1960-

views updated

WAYANS, Damon 1960-


Born September 4, 1960, in New York, NY; son of Howell (a retail manager) and Elvira (a homemaker) Wayans; brother of Keenen Ivory Wayans (an actor, director, writer, and producer), Marlon Wayans (an actor), Shawn Wayans (an actor), and Kim Wayans (an actress); married Lisa Thorner, April 24, 1984 (divorced, August, 2000); children: Damon, Jr., Michael Richard, Cara Mia Dianne, Lisa Kyla Alexandria. Religion: Jehovah's Witness.


Office—Mosaic Media Group, 9220 Sunset Blvd., Suite 320, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211; publicist: Tencer & Associates PR, 9777 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 504, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter. Actor in films, including (as banana salesman) Beverly Hills Cop, Paramount, 1984; (as second bodyguard and Willie) Hollywood Shuffle (also known as Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle), Samuel Goldwyn, 1987; (as Jerry) Roxanne, Columbia, 1987; (as child running in house) Eddie Murphy Raw, Paramount, 1987; (as T-Bone) Colors, Orion, 1988; (as Leonard) I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1988; (as Percy) Punchline, Columbia, 1988; (as Zeebo) Earth Girls Are Easy, Vestron, 1989; (as voice of Eddie) Look Who's Talking Too, TriStar, 1990; (as Jimmy Dix) The Last Boy Scout, Warner Bros., 1991; (as Johnny Stewart and Mo' Money All-stars member; and executive producer) Mo' Money, Columbia, 1992; (as himself) Last Action Hero, Columbia, 1993; (as young Kevin Walker and Darryl Walker; and executive producer) Blankman, Columbia, 1994; (as title role; and executive producer) Major Payne, Universal, 1995; (as Keats/Jack Carter) Bulletproof, Universal, 1996; (as Lewis Scott) Celtic Pride, Buena Vista, 1996; (as James "The Grim Reaper" Roper) The Great White Hype, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1996; (as Wes; and producer) Harlem Aria, 1999; (as Pierre Delacroix, formerly Peerless Dothan) Bamboozled, New Line Cinema, 2000; (as himself) All Jokes Aside, 2000; The Making of "Bamboozled," 2001; (as Dr. S) Marci X, 2003; and (as title role) Homey the Clown, in production.

Appeared in television series, including Saturday Night Live (also known as SNL), National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1985-1986; In Living Color, Fox, 1990-1993; (as himself) Damon, Fox, 1998; and (as Michael Kyle) My Wife and Kids, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 2001—. Actor in television movies, including (as ornery character #1) Triplecross, 1985; (as "Snow" Lurcher) Passing Glory, TNT, 1999; and (as Dr. Steven Hamel) Goosed, The Movie Channel, 2000. Actor in television pilots, including (as tech support guy) I Spike, UPN, 2000. Guest star on episodes of television series, including A Different World, One Night Stand, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jenny Jones, Primetime Glick, Norm, 413 Hope St., NYPD Blue, and (as himself) "Redd Foxx: Say It Like It Is," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.

Appeared in television specials, including "Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime II," HBO Comedy Hour, Home Box Office (HBO), 1988; "The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime III," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1989; (as host) Miller Lite Comedy Search Finals, 1989; Motown 30: What's Goin' On!, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1990; "Damon Wayans: The Last Stand?," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1991; A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan, NBC, 1991; Comic Relief V, HBO, 1992; The Comedy Store's 20th Birthday, NBC, 1992; Laughing Matters (also known as Funny Business), Showtime, 1993; (in archive footage; as himself/Minister Louis Farrakan) Mo' Funny Blues: Black Comedy in America, 1993; 20 Years of Comedy on HBO, HBO, 1995; (as host) MTV's Spring Break '95, Music Television (MTV), 1995; (as himself) Classic Stand-Up Comedy of Television, 1996; "Damon Wayans: Still Standing," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1997; The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize Celebrating the Humor of Richard Pryor, Comedy Central, 1999; (as himself) Intimate Portrait: Robin Givens, Lifetime, 2000; (as host) Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2000, Turner Network Television (TNT), 2000; (uncredited; in archive footage; as Michael Kyle) Victoria Secret's Fashion Show, 2001; (as himself) Inside TV Land: African Americans in Television, TV Land, 2002; and (as himself) ABC's 50th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 2003.

Appeared at televised awards presentations, including MTV's 1990 Video Music Awards, MTV, 1990; American Music Awards, ABC, 1991; (as presenter) The 1992 MTV Movie Awards, 1992; (as presenter) MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1994; (as presenter) 13th Annual MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1996; (as presenter) 4th Annual VH1 Honors, VH1, 1997; (as presenter) Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, 1997; American Comedy Honors, Fox, 1997; (as presenter) The 19th Annual CableAce Awards, TNT, 1997; (as presenter) The 1998 World Music Awards, ABC, 1998; (as presenter) The 12th Annual American Comedy Awards, Fox, 1998; (as host) The World Music Awards, ABC, 1999; The 1999 ALMA Awards, ABC, 1999; (as presenter) My VH1 Music Awards, VH1, 2001; (as presenter) The 8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2002; (as presenter) The 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2002; ABC's 50th Anniversary Celebration, 2003; 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 2003; and 30th Annual American Music Awards, 2003.

Executive producer of television series, including Waynehead (animated), The WB, 1996-1997; (and creator) 413 Hope Street, Fox, 1997; (and creator) Damon, Fox, 1998; (and creator) My Wife and Kids, ABC, 2001—; of television specials, including "Damon Wayans: The Last Stand?," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1991; and "Damon Wayans: Still Standing," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1997; and of the television pilot (and creator) Weekend Dad, ABC. Appeared in the music videos "The Best Things in Life Are Free" with Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross, and Bell Biv Devoe, and in Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us"; director of "She's Not My Lover." DDJ Productions, co-owner, 2004—.


Favorite male performer in a new television series and favorite new television comedy awards, People's Choice Awards, 2002, both for My Wife and Kids.


Bootleg, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.


Mo' Money, Columbia, 1992.

(With J. F. Lawton) Blankman, Columbia, 1994.

(With others) Major Payne, Universal, 1995.

(With Dean Lorey) Homey the Clown, in production.


In Living Color, Fox, 1990-1992.

413 Hope Street, Fox, 1997.

Damon, Fox, 1998.

My Wife and Kids, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), 2001—.

Also wrote television special "Damon Wayans: Still Standing," HBO Comedy Hour, Home Box Office (HBO), 1997.


Damon Wayans is from one of the funniest families in show business today; of his nine siblings, five are in some form of comedy. Wayans's introduction to the business was suggesting jokes for his older brother Keenan Ivory Wayans's stand-up routines. Later, Wayans was one of the performers on In Living Color, a sketch comedy program created by Keenan Ivory that launched the careers of several talented funny men, including Jim Carrey and two other Wayans children, Shawn and Kim. Among Wayans's more memorable creations from that show are the cheerless Homey the Clown (catchphrase: "Homey don't play that!"); Handi-man, a physically challenged superhero; and Blaine Edwards, a flamboyantly gay movie critic. The show's edgy humor and the way that it poked fun at everyone from minorities to homosexuals to people with physical limitations offended some, but the various interest groups' protests never bothered Wayans. "In olden times, only the jester could talk about the king," Wayans told Essence interviewer Veronica Chambers. "He could talk about how greedy the king was, how fat and ugly he was, and everyone would laugh. Comedians are one of the few groups of people who can tell the truth."

After leaving In Living Color in 1992, Wayans turned to screenwriting. His first effort was Mo' Money, a comedy about a small-time thief who takes a job in the mail room of a large company to try to pull off a bigger scam. The movie presents a "manic satirical vision of inner-city money fever," Owen Glieberman wrote in Entertainment Weekly, as well as "dorkishness at its most embarrassingly Caucasian" in the company's higher-ups.

Wayans's next two screenplays, Blankman and Major Payne, were also comedies, but in 1997 he tried his hand at drama with 413 Hope Street, a television series set in a teen crisis center in New York. The show was a "fast-paced hour of social consciousness and rehabilitation," Julio Martinez wrote in Variety, but it struggled in its Thursday night time slot, where it competed with the phenomenally successful sitcom Seinfeld. The show was soon canceled.

Wayans's next television program, a comedy called Damon that starred Wayans and his In Living Color partner David Alan Grier, also failed to find an audience, but a few years later Wayans found success with another show, My Wife and Kids. Often compared to The Cosby Show, another sitcom about an affluent African-American family with a strong father, My Wife and Kids stars Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin as parents who are raising their three children in Stamford, Connecticut. Unlike the characters in many recent family sitcoms, Wayans's father character is neither a bumbler nor a fool. "The message of the show is that God gave kids parents for a reason, and that's because the kids are too dumb to do things on their own," Wayans told Jet. "They need parents to guide them." Audiences, black and white, have responded positively to this family-friendly message, making it one of a very small number of major-network shows about African-American families that have successfully crossed over to nonblack audiences.



Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 41, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.

Newsmakers 1998, Issue 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), January 7, 1999, Monty Phan, interview with Wayans, p. 5; November 14, 2002, interview with Wayans, p. 14.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 22, 1998, Lyle V. Harris, review of Damon, p. L1.

Austin American-Statesman (Austin, TX), September 21, 1997, review of 413 Hope Street, p. 4; March 22, 1998, review of Damon, p. 5.

Boston Herald, March 28, 2001, Marisa Guthrie, review of My Wife and Kids, p. 47.

Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), September 11, 1997, Alan Pergament, review of 413 Hope Street, p. F5; March 19, 1998, Alan Pergament, interview with Wayans, p. B5; June 17, 1999, Douglas J. Rowe, review of Bootleg, p. C3.

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), July 9, 1997, Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, review of 413 Hope Street, p. L2; March 22, 1998, Keith Marder, review of Damon, p. L20; June 17, 1999, Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, interview with Wayans, p. L2.

Daily Variety, January 15, 2002, "'People's' Pick ER, Friends, "p.54.

Electronic Media, November 26, 2001, Michael Freeman, "Black-Oriented Sitcoms Gaining White Viewers," p. 1A.

Entertainment Weekly, August 7, 1992, Owen Gleiberman, review of Mo' Money, p. 38; February 5, 1993, Jill Rachlin, review of Mo' Money, p. 58; March 24, 1995, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Major Payne, p. 48; September 8, 1995, Michael Sauter, review of Major Payne, p. 91; October 10, 1997, Bruce Fretts, review of In Living Color, pp. 76-77; June 4, 1999, Clarissa Cruz, review of Bootleg, pp. 78+; April 12, 2002, Bruce Fretts, review of My Wife and Kids, pp. 58+.

Essence, August, 1992, Veronica Chambers, interview with Wayans, p. 40.

Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA), March 29, 1998, Greg Braxton, interview with Wayans, p. 2.

Hollywood Reporter, March 14, 2002, Cynthia Littleton, "Wayans' Family Matters," p. 6; March 17, 2004, Cynthia Littleton, "New DDJ, ABC share risks on comedy pilot," p. 4.

In Style, April 1, 2001, interview with Wayans, p. 205.

Jet, May 3, 1999, "ALMA Awards," p. 45; April 2, 2001, review of My Wife and Kids, p. 60; December 17, 2001, review of My Wife and Kids, pp. 56-60; January 28, 2002, "Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans, TV's My Wife and Kids Are People's Choice," pp. 56-57.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, March 20, 1995, Luaine Lee, interview with Wayans, p. 0320K8211; September 4, 1996, Barry Koltnow, interview with Wayans, p. 904K8449; March 26, 2001, Ed Bark, "From Def Comedy to Tough Daddy, Wayans Charts New TV Course," p. K5459; March 27, 2001, Mike Duffy, review of My Wife and Kids, p. K6097.

Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1998, review of Damon, p. 6; November 25, 2001, Greg Braxton, interview with Wayans, p. F-8.

People, May 7, 1990, David Hiltbrand, review of In Living Color, p. 11; May 27, 1991, David Hiltbrand, review of "Damon Wayans: The Last Stand?," p. 10; August 10, 1992, Leah Rozen, review of Mo' Money, pp. 16-17; April 3, 1995, Ralph Novak, review of Major Payne, pp. 18-19; April 10, 1995, Kim Cunningham, interview with Wayans, p. 130; September 15, 1997, Terry Kelleher, review of 413 Hope Street, p. 24; March 30, 1998, Terry Kelleher, review of Damon, p. 15; April 13, 1998, interview with Wayans, p. 156; May 24, 1999, Mike Lipton, review of Bootleg, p. 49.

Record (Bergen County, NJ), July 27, 2000, Virginia Rohan, interview with Wayans, p. Y1; March 28, 2001, Virginia Rohan, review of My Wife and Kids, p. Y1; September 20, 2002, Ed Condran, interview with Wayans, p. 20.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), July 10, 1997, review of 413 Hope Street, p. 12D.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 1998, John Carman, review of Damon, p. D1; July 18, 1999, Aidin Vaziri, interview with Wayans, p. 38.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 20, 1998, John Levesque, review of Damon, p. 24.

Seattle Times, March 20, 1998, review of Damon, p. F3.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), July 9, 1997, Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, "Wayans Working on Drama and Sitcom at the Same Time," p. 64; March 20, 1998, Alan Sepinwall, review of Damon, p. 53; May 14, 1998, Marilyn Beck and Stephanie Dubois, "Wayans Trying to Keep Foot in Stand-Up," p. 65; July 28, 2000, Anthony Venutolo, interview with Wayans, p. 9; March 28, 2001, review of My Wife and Kids, p. 65.

Variety, September 22, 1997, Julio Martinez, review of 413 Hope St., p. 88; April 2, 2001, Laura Fries, review of My Wife and Kids, p. 27.

Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, NC), April 3, 2001, Tim Coldfelte, interview with Wayans, p. E7.


Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (May 21, 2004), "Damon Wayans."*