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Brady, Wayne

Wayne Brady

1972—

Actor, comedian, singer

Emmy-award winning actor Wayne Brady is a versatile comedian and singer who rose to fame for his improvisational comedic skills on the hit television series Whose Line Is It Anyway? Displaying charm, humor, and vocal ability, the multitalented Brady also hosted a variety show, a daytime talk show, and the musical game show Don't Forget the Lyrics.

Wayne Brady was born on June 2, 1972, in Orlando, Florida. With his father, an army serviceman, posted overseas and his seventeen-year-old mother unable to take care of him, Brady was raised by his grandmother, Valerie Petersen. A shy boy, Brady "stuttered, had acne, was stick thin, couldn't get a girlfriend, and got beat up ‘for breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner’ because he was in gifted classes and ROTC,", according to Jane Ganahl in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Began Acting in High School

Brady discovered his gift for entertaining when he was sixteen years old. Thinking that there was really nothing else for him to do, Brady had intended on going into the military after he completed high school. However, a friend of his pulled out of the school play and asked Brady to take over the one-line part. "As soon as I stepped onstage," Brady told Jet, "my stutter went away, my self-confidence went up, and with that first bit of applause, [I was] hooked." He graduated from Dr. Phillips High School in 1990 and began to focus on a career in entertainment. Brady started taking dance, singing, and acting lessons. He got jobs at a variety of places, including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Great America. One of the parts he played at Disney World was that of Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh parade. At this time Brady was also involved in community theater, appearing in such productions as A Chorus Line and Jesus Christ Superstar.

In 1991, while still in Florida, Brady met and befriended Jonathan Magnum. The duo soon formed an improv group called the Houseful of Honkeys and moved to Los Angeles. Brady took parts in dinner theater companies and on cruise ships to pay the rent, as well as a number of walk-on roles on such television shows as Superboy, I'll Fly Away, In the Heat of the Night, Clarissa Explains It All, and the Home Court.

In 1996, while doing a musical revue in Hawaii, Brady met Mandie Taketa, and the couple was married three years later. It was also in 1996 that Brady was chosen to take part in an improvisational group called Kwik Witz. Although the show was not entirely improvisational—there was a disclaimer at the end of each performance that stated that the actors knew their topics beforehand—it still put Brady into the spotlight. It was there that he was noticed by the producers of the British television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

When the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? debuted in 1998, Brady appeared as a rotating replacement, but soon became one of the regular members of the cast. He gained attention for his musical improvisations and was nominated in 2001 for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program. Drew Carey, Brady's costar on Whose Line Is It Anyway? was quoted by Hal Boedeker in the Orlando Sentinel as saying of Brady, "He's great, he's really super talented, really charismatic, and he's a thrill to work with. When he's onstage, he's something to see. I remember the first time I worked with him, I couldn't believe the stuff he was doing. It was like watching magic tricks."

Gained Fame on Whose Line?

The show brought Brady widespread fame, and he received much of the credit for the show's success. However, there was one thing that bothered Brady: Often people did not believe that the scenes staged on the show really were improvised. "That kind of ticks me off when people ask that," Brady told Diane Eicher in the Denver Post. Yet Brady realized it was also a compliment to the quick wit and talent of the actors. Viewers could not believe anyone could think up such humorous skits on the spot.

Of course, Brady had performed to sold out audiences at improvisational shows across the country for years, which was, according to Ganahl, "Pretty good for a [man] who bucks the notion that to sell out big venues, you've got to have R- or X-rated material." Not only did Brady achieve stardom for improvisational acting, but he did so on the strength of family-oriented material.

In 2001 Brady was given his own show, aptly named the Wayne Brady Show, which he hosted and starred in, along with Brooke Dillman, Jonathan Mangum, J. P. Manoux, and Missi Pyle. Brady described the show in People: "The template is FlipWilson and Carol Burnett scrunched together, then laid on top of a human Muppet show. It's family TV." The show raised ABC's summer ratings in its Wednesday time slot by four million viewers. A New York Post reporter wrote, "I haven't laughed at a sketch show this much since my all-time favorite sketch show In Living Color, bit the dust, lo these many years ago…. Wayne Brady and co. are as funny a show as the old Carol Burnett Show ensemble company and the Wayans brothers combined."

Hosted Daytime Talk Show

Based on its success as a summer replacement program, the Wayne Brady Show was continued for six more episodes, but when its ratings dropped, ABC decided to change the format. The revamped Wayne Brady Show debuted in 2002 as a daytime talk show and was a critical success, with Brady awarded Daytime Emmy awards in 2003 and in 2004. Ratings sagged by its second season, however, and the show was cancelled in 2004. By this time Brady was seemingly omnipresent on television, serving as host of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and the Miss America Pageant. In 2004 Brady made his Broadway debut, joining the cast of Chicago for a limited run.

Brady returned to the small screen in 2006 as host of a new Fox musical series, Celebrity Duets. That show was short-lived, but the following year he landed a similar role as host of a new show called Don't Forget the Lyrics, a karaoke-influenced show in which contestants sing along with a band and are fed a portion of the lyrics, but must finish the words on their own from memory.

At a Glance …

Born on June 2, 1972, in Orlando, FL; married Mandie Taketa, 1999 (divorced 2008); one child, Maile.

Career: Actor, comedian, and singer, 1990—; television host, 2003—.

Awards: Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding talk show, 2003, and outstanding talk show host, for The Wayne Brady Show, 2003, 2004; Emmy Award for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program for Whose Line Is It Anyway? 2003.

Addresses: Office—c/o Don't Forget the Lyrics, Fox Broadcasting Company, PO Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213.

After releasing several singles over the years, he recorded his first album, A Long Time Coming, which was released in September of 2008. Meanwhile, Brady continued to tour comedy clubs and did several performances per week of the live show Wayne Brady and Friends at the Venetian resort in Las Vegas.

Selected works

Television

Superboy, 1990.

I'll Fly Away, 1993.

In the Heat of the Night, 1993.

On Promised Land, 1994.

Vinyl Justice, 1998.

Whose Line is It Anyway?, 1998-2003.

Hollywood Squares, 1999-2003.

Wayne Brady Show (variety), 2001.

Wayne Brady Show (daytime talk), 2002-04.

Celebrity Duets, 2006.

Everybody Hates Chris, 2006, 2008.

Don't Forget the Lyrics, 2007—.

Film

(Animated) Clifford's Really Big Movie, 2004.

Roll Bounce, 2005.

Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, 2005.

Crossover, 2006.

The List, 2006.

Albums

A Long Time Coming, Peak Records, 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

Advertising Age, March 1, 1999, p. 8.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 8, 2001, p. C10.

Denver Post, March 1, 2001, p. F5.

Entertainment Weekly, August 10, 2001, p. 57.

Interview, September, 2001, p. 132.

Jet, August 27, 2001, p. 62; September 24, 2001; February 10, 2003, p. 56; June 9, 2003, p. 34; May 5, 2008, p. 33.

Kansas City Star, September 27, 2007.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 7, 2001, p. K2667.

Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1999, p.6; April 27, 2000, p. F7; August 8, 2001, p. F4; August 15, 2001, p. F11.

Mediaweek, August 27, 2001, p. 8.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2001, p. 6.

New York Post, August 8, 2001, p. 70.

Orlando Sentinel, July 26, 2001.

People, June, 2000, p. 70; September 3, 2001, p. 95; February 24, 2003, p. 71.

The Record (Bergen County, NJ), May 9, 2008, p. G38.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2001, p. B1.

Seattle Times, September 1, 2006, p. E2.

Washington Post, September 4, 2001, p. C1.

Online

"Biography," Wayne Brady, http://www.waynebrady.com/_bin/biography.cfm (accessed November 12, 2008).

—Catherine Victoria Donaldson and Bob Jacobson

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Brady, Wayne 1972–

Wayne Brady 1972

Actor, comedian

At a Glance

Sources

Called an improvisational guru by People magazine, Wayne Brady has become a familiar face in homes across America. A regular on ABCs improvisational comedy show Whos Line Is It Anyway?, Bradys charm, humor, and vocal talent have earned him both admiration and recognition. Right now Im starting to get recognized, Brady told the San Francisco Chronicle, Some people actually say, Hey, are you Wayne Brady? rather than, Hey, arent you the black guy on Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Brady was born on June 2, 1972, in Orlando, Florida. With his father, an army serviceman, posted overseas and his 17-year-old mother unable to take care of him, Brady was raised by his grandmother, Valerie Petersen. A shy boy, Brady, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, stuttered, had acne, was stick thin, couldnt get a girlfriend, and got beat up for breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner because he was in gifted classes and ROTC,

When he was 16, Brady discovered his gift for entertaining. Thinking that there was really nothing else for him to do, Brady had intended on going into the military after he completed high school. But then a friend of his pulled out of the school play, asking Brady to take over the one-line part. As soon as I stepped onstage, Brady told Jet, my stutter went away, my self-confidence went up, and with that first bit of applause, [I was] hooked. He graduated from Dr. Phillips High School in 1990 and began to focus on a career in entertainment. Brady started taking lessons for dancing, singing, and acting. He got jobs at a variety of places, including Disney World, Universal Studios, and Great America. One of the parts he played at Walt Disney World was that of the bouncy trouncy Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh parade. At this time Brady was also involved in community theater, appearing in such productions as A Chorus Line and Jesus Christ: Superstar.

In 1991, while still in Florida, Brady met and befriended Jonathan Magnum. The duo soon formed an improv group called the Houseful of Honkeys. Around this same time the two moved to Los Angeles. Things did not take off right away for Brady, though, and while in Los Angeles, to pay the rent, he took a multitude of parts in dinner theater companies and on cruise ships, as well as a number of walk-on roles on television shows like Superboy, Ill Fly Away, In the Heat of the

At a Glance

Born on June 2, 1972, in Orlando, FL; married Mandie Taketa, 1999.

Career: Actor: On Promised Land, 1994; Kwik Witz, 1996; Vinyl Justice, 1998; Hollywood Squares, 1998; Whose Line Is It Anyway?, 199801; Geppetto, 2000; The Wayne Brady Show, 2001. TV guest appearances: Superboy, 1990; Ill Fly Away, 1991; Clarissa Explains It All, 1993; In the Heat of the Night, 1993; The Home Court, 1995; The Magic Hour, 1998; The Drew Carey Show, 1999; Batman Beyond, 2000; The Drew Carey Show, 2000; The Cindy Margolis Show, 2000; Strassman, 2000. Writer: The Wayne Brady Show, 2001. Producer: The Wayne Brady Show, 2001.

Awards: Emmy Award nomination, Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program, 2001.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Office c/o ABC, Inc. 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521.

Night, Clarissa Explains It All, and The Home Court. In 1996, while doing a musical revue in Hawaii, Brady met Mandie Taketa, and the couple were married three years later. It was also in 1996, after the six-month musical revue was finished and he had returned to California, that Brady was chosen to take part in an improvisational group called Kwik Witz. Although the show wasnt entirely improvisationalthere was a disclaimer at the end of each performance that stated that the actors knew their topics beforehandit still put Brady into the spotlight. It was there that he was noticed by the producers of the British television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

When the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? aired in 1998, Brady appeared as a rotating replacement, but soon was switched to being one of the regular members of the cast. He became known for his musical improvisations and was even nominated in 2001 for an Emmy Award for an Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program. Drew Carey, Bradys coworker on Whose Line Is It Anyway? was quoted by the Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service as having said of Brady, Hes great, hes really super talented, really charismatic, and hes a thrill to work with. When hes onstage, hes something to see. I remember the first time I worked with him, I couldnt believe the stuff he was doing. It was like watching magic tricks.

The show brought Brady widespread fame. Jet noted, While the shows other improvisers are talented, Brady is arguably the single reason Whose Line has remained one of ABCs most popular shows since its 1998 premiere. However, there was one thing that bothered Bradyoften people did not believe that the improvisational scenes staged on the show really were improvised. That kind of ticks me off when people ask that, Brady told The Denver Post. Yet Brady realized it was also a compliment to the quick wit and talent of the actors that viewers did not believe anyone could think up such humorous skits on the spot.

Of course, Brady had sold out comedy improvisational shows across the country for years, which was, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Pretty good for a [man] who bucks the notion that to sell out big venues, youve got to have R-or X-rated material. Not only has Brady become a synonym for good improvisational acting, but he has done so on his own, family-rated terms. This good, family humor won him the star spot for Churchs Chicken television commercials and even for a string of Bud Light commercials.

In 2001 Brady was given his own show, aptly named The Wayne Brady Show, which he hosted and starred in, along with Brooke Dillman, Jonathan Mangum, J.P. Manoux, and Missi Pyle. Brady described the show to People Weekly: The template is Flip Wilson and Carol Burnett scrunched together, then laid on top of a human Muppet show. Its family TV. The show, a risky one by todays standards, raised ABCs summer ratings in its Wednesday time slot by 4 million viewers. According to a reporter for the New York Post, I havent laughed at a sketch show this much since my all-time favorite sketch show In Living Color, bit the dust, lo these many years ago . Wayne Brady and co. are as funny a show as the old Carol Burnett Show ensemble company and the Wayans brothers combined. A critic for the Los Angeles Times wrote that Brady was devastatingly funny but also mentioned that some of the improvisational pieces could have been better. ABC signed up The Wayne Brady Show for 6 more episodes and also signed Brady to do a Christmas Special.

Wanting to avoid being pigeon-holed as the comedic song and dance man on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Brady next set the goal of winning a movie role. He received many offers, but Brady wanted to be sure he chose only roles that were right for him. I just have to be careful and handle it right, Brady told the San Francisco Chronicle, so that in five years I dont become an episode of the El True Hollywood Story!

Sources

Periodicals

Advertising Age, March 1, 1999, p. 8.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 8, 2001, p. C10.

The Denver Post, March 1, 2001, p. F5.

Entertainment Weekly, August 10, 2001, p. 57.

Interview, September, 2001, p. 132.

Jet, August 27, 2001, p. 62; September 24, 2001.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, July 26, 2001, p. K6196; August 7, 2001, p. K2667.

Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1999, p.6; April 27, 2000, p. F7; August 8, 2001, p. F4; August 15, 2001, p. Fll.

Mediaweek, August 27, 2001, p. 8.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2001, p. 6.

New York Post, August 8, 2001, p. 70.

People, June, 2000, p. 70.

People Weekly, September 3, 2001, p. 95.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2001, p. B1.

The Washington Post, September 4, 2001, p. C1.

Online

www.imdb.com.

www.tvtome.com.

Catherine Victoria Donaldson

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Brady, Wayne 1972–

BRADY, Wayne 1972

PERSONAL


Born June, 2, 1972, in Orlando, FL; son of Wayne Brady (a U.S. Army officer); married Mandie Taketa, April 3, 1999; children: Maile Masako. Education: Graduated from Dr. Phillips High School, 1990. Avocational Interests: Playing Sony PlayStation 2.


Addresses: Agent William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager BrillsteinGrey Entertainment, 9150 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 350, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist Bragman/Nyman/Cafarelli, 9171 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.


Career: Actor, writer, and producer. Began doing comedy work at Sak Theatre, Orlando, FL, 1990; Houseful of Honkeys (stage improvisational group), member; appeared in numerous television commercials for Church's chicken (1999), Bud Light (1999), McDonald's (2002), Avaya Telecom Equipment (2002), International Delight nondairy creamers (2003), and Avaya, Inc. (2003).


Awards, Honors: Rookie of the Year, Sak Theatre, 1992, for TheatreSports/Improv; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program, 2001, 2003, Emmy Award, outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program, 2003, all for Whose Line Is It Anyway?; Daytime Emmy Award, outstanding talk show host, 2003, for The Wayne Brady Show; Best Actor in a Musical Award, for Cotton Patch Gospel.


CREDITS

Television Appearances; Series:

Himself, Kwik Witz (also known as Quick Witz ), 1996.

Himself, Whose Line Is It Anyway? (also known as Whose Line? ), ABC, 1998.

Himself, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Channel 4, 1998.

Officer Brady, Vinyl Justice, VH1, 1998.

Various characters, The Wayne Brady Show, ABC, 2001.

Host, The Wayne Brady Show, syndicated, 20022004.


Television Appearances; Movies:

Eli James, On Promised Land, The Disney Channel, 1994.

The magician, Geppetto, ABC, 2000.

Voice of Sly, the Electric Piper, The Electric Piper (animated), Nickelodeon, 2003.


Television Appearances; Specials:

Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade, ABC, 1998.

Reporter, Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade, ABC, 1999.

Host (Los Angeles), Safe Night USA, PBS and Black Entertainment Television, 1999.

Santa Tracker, Walt Disney World 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, ABC, 2000.

Cohost (Hollywood), Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2001, ABC, 2000.

The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Award, ABC, 2000.

Himself, The Second Annual TV Guide Awards, Fox, 2000.

The Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade, ABC, 2001.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2002, ABC, 2001.

The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, CBS, 2001.

VH1 Big in 2002 Awards, VH1, 2002.

Himself, Inside TV Land: African Americans in Television (documentary), TV Land, 2002.

Himself, TV Guide 50 Best Shows of All Time: A 50th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 2002.

Himself (host), Miss America Pageant, ABC, 2002.

Himself (host), Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, ABC, 2002.

Himself, The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Fox, 2003.

Host, The 30th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, ABC, 2003.

Presenter, The 17th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, The WB, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

John, "The Sons of Icarus," Superboy, syndicated, 1990.

Henry Ulmer, "Hatton's Turn: Parts 1 & 2," In the Heat of the Night, CBS, 1993.

(Uncredited) Pepe's pizza delivery man, "Editor in Chief," Clarissa Explains It All, Nickelodeon, 1993.

Himself/interviewee, The Martin Short Show, syndicated, 1999.

Wayne, "Drew Live," The Drew Carey Show, ABC, 1999.

Himself, Strassman, 2000.

Himself, "Frat Party," The Cindy Margolis Show, 2000.

Wayne, "Drew Live II," The Drew Carey Show, ABC, 2000.

Voice of Micron, "The Call: Parts 1 & 2," Batman Beyond (animated), The WB, 2000.

Guest, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 2001, 2002.

Himself, The View, ABC, 2002.

Himself, "Daredevilin," Player$, 2003.

Jackie Wilson, "The One," American Dreams, NBC, 2003.

Himself, "To Live and Diaper in L.A.," The Anna Nicole Show, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.


Also appeared as himself, The Hollywood Squares; guest host, Talk Soup, E! Entertainment Television; Damon, I'll Fly Away, NBC; waiter, The Home Court, NBC; judge, Star Search, CBS.


Television Work; Series:

Executive producer, The Wayne Brady Show, ABC, 2001.

Coexecutive producer, The Wayne Brady Show, syndicated, 20022004.


Stage Appearances:

Blade to the Heat, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1996.


Also appeared in A Chorus Line; Fences; A Raisin in the Sun; Jesus Christ Superstar; I'm Not Rappaport; Cotton Patch Gospel, Edyth Bush Theatre; as Joe Grady, The Only Game in Town, Los Angeles.


Major Tours:

Toured in Wayne Brady and Friends (improv show), U.S. cities.


WRITINGS

Television Episodes:

The Wayne Brady Show, ABC, 2001.


OTHER SOURCES


Periodicals:

Parade Magazine, August 31, 2003, p. 14.

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Brady, Wayne

Brady, Wayne

Career
Sidelights
Sources

Actor and talk-show host

B orn June 2, 1972, in Orlando, FL; married Mandie Taketa (an actress), April 3, 1999 (divorced, 2007); children: Maile Masako.

Addresses: Office—c/o Don’t Forget the Lyrics, P.O. Box 900, Attn: FOX Broadcasting Publicity Dept., Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900.

Career

A ctor on television, including: Superboy, 1990; I’ll Fly Away, 1993; In the Heat of the Night, 1993; On Promised Land (movie), 1994; Kwik Witz, 1996; Vi-nyl Justice, 1998; Whose Line Is It Anyway, ABC, 1998-2003; Hollywood Squares, 1999-2003; Geppetto (movie), 2000; (also producer and writer) The Wayne Brady Show, 2001, then syndicated, 2002-04; Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, 2001, 2002; American Dreams, 2003; The Electric Piper (movie), 2003; Going to the Mat (movie), 2004; Reno 911!, Comedy Central, 2004; I Do, They Don’t (movie), 2005; Kevin Hill, 2005; Stargate SG-1, 2005; Girlfriends, 2006; Celebrity Duets, 2006; 30 Rock, 2007; (host) Don’t Forget the Lyrics, 2007—. Stage appearances include: Wayne Brady & Friends, U.S. cities, 2000-04; Chicago, Broadway production, 2004; Making **it Up, Venetian, Las Vegas, NV, 2007—; A Chorus Line; A Raisin in the Sun; Jesus Christ Superstar; I’m Not Rappaport; The Only Game in Town; Blade to the Heat, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, CA. Film appearances include: Clifford’s Really Big Movie (voice), 2004; Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (voice), 2005; Roll Bounce, 2005; The List, 2006; Crossover, 2006; The Adventures of Brer Rabbit (voice), 2006. Served as host of Miss America Pageant, 2002; 30th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, 2003; Broadway on Broadway, 2004; 8th Annual Soul Train Christmas Starfest, 2005; That’s What I’m Talking About, VH1, 2006; Countdown to theAmerican Music Awards. Also worked at Disney World as a character performer for Tigger and Goofy; performed in shows at Universal Studios Florida theme park, including Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, and Rock ’n’ Roll Re-vue; appeared with a comedy troupe in Orlando, FL, and with House Full of Honkies, Los Angeles, CA.

Awards: Rookie of the Year, Saks Theatre, 1992; Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding talk show and outstanding talk show host, for The Wayne Brady Show, National Television Academy, 2003; Emmy Award for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program for Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, 2003; Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding talk show host, for The Wayne Brady Show, National Television Academy, 2004.

Sidelights

A n Emmy Award-winning television show host, Wayne Brady is also a popular actor with an upbeat point of view, strong singing voice, and dancing ability which allows him to work in a variety of genres. Gifted at the art of improv, he first came to international attention for his appearances on the Drew Carey-hosted Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Brady’s success on the show eventually led to his own short-lived talk show, The Wayne Brady Show, a stint on Broadway in Chicago, and small film roles beginning in 2004.

Born on June 2, 1972, in Orlando, Florida, Brady was raised by his grandmother, Valerie Petersen, and was a shy child with a stuttering problem. By the time he attended Dr. Phillips High School, he was a member of the ROTC and seemed destined to join the military. However, after appearing in a school play, Brady caught the acting bug and joined the drama club. Brady told Steve Hedgpeth of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, “When I was 16, I was in ROTC. I hadn’t made up my mind about a career yet. But as soon as I found out that my calling was being an actor, there was never any doubt. I knew that I was leaving myself open to some extreme butt-kicking, but there was nothing else I could possibly do.”

Brady put all his energy into his new career focus as he completed his high school education and moved into community theater. In addition to appearing with a comedy troupe in Orlando, he also worked at Disney World as a character performer and performed in shows at Universal Studios Florida theme park, including Beetlejuice, Ghost-busters, and Rock ’n’ Roll Revue. Brady had roles in stage productions like A Raisin in the Sun, toured in musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, and appeared in locally filmed television series like Superboy, as well.

To fully pursue his career goals, Brady moved to Las Vegas, then Los Angeles in the early 1990s. In California, he began appearing with an improv group called House Full of Honkies. Brady also landed guest spots in television series such as I’ll Fly Away and In the Heat of the Night, as well as a 1994 television movie On Promised Land.

Brady’s career really took off in 1998 when he began appearing in the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, hosted by Carey. Carey had seen the long-running, popular British version of the show, and brought it to the United States to high ratings. Brady was a regular on Whose Line for several years, demonstrated both his quick wit and singing ability. His work on the show led to an Emmy Award nomination for him in 2000 and an EmmyAward in 2003, the same year it was canceled. Of the show’s affect on his career, he told Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret News that Whose Line “pretty much changed my entire life. It changed everything about my life. Not one thing, past certain personal things, was the same.”

Brady’s work on Whose Line led to new career opportunities. In the early 2000s, he toured the United States in an improv show entitled Wayne Brady & Friends with four other improv actors and a keyboard player. It was first performed in comedy clubs in 2000, then made its way into bigger theaters and attracted audiences in the thousands in 2001. Brady continued to regularly tour with the show over the next several years.

Also in 2001, Brady launched his own television show, The Wayne Brady Show. This weekly prime-time program on ABC included elements of a variety show, such as a full band, dancers, improv and sketch comedy, a supporting cast, and special guests, and had a brief, seven-episode run. Admitting he owed a debt to variety series from the 1960s and 1970s, Brady told Robin Vaughan of the Boston Herald, “It really involves stuff I most enjoy doing, the blending of music and comedy. It’s a melding of some classic comedy shows of the past. Having grown up on the Flip Wilson and Carol Burnett shows, I think we pay a little homage to them. But I think if anything what we’ll try to do is have a classic feel with a very now energy.”

While ABC declined to pick up The Wayne Brady Show for a longer run, the show was re-tooled by the network in 2002 to become more of a talk show with celebrity guests. Brady still included comedy and musical elements as well on the syndicated daily program. The Wayne Brady Show paid homage to classic television, with Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin inspiring Brady. When The Wayne Brady Show debuted in the fall of 2002, it received the best ratings of the five new talk shows on the air. Brady won an Emmy as best talk show host for his work on The Wayne Brady Show in 2003.

As Brady’s television career was taking off, he was tapped to host a number of impressive gigs. In 2001 and 2002, he served as the host of the annual classic show Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 2001 and 2002. Also in 2002, Brady was selected to host the Miss America Pageant. He was the first African American to host the American institution. Before the pageant aired, he told Walt Belcher of the Tampa Tribune that though he hesitated to take the job, “I realized that I would be part of television history as the first African American to be the host, so I’m honored to be a small part of pop culture. And the format does allow me to entertain, and so I hope to bring some fun to the pageant.”

Because of declining ratings, The Wayne Brady Show was canceled after its second season ended in 2004. By this time, Brady had expanded his acting repertoire by appearing television movies like The Electric Piper, doing guest spots on shows like American Dreams and Reno 911!, and providing a voice for his first film, Clifford’s Really Big Movie. After The Wayne Brady Show ended, Brady made his Broadway debut by joining the cast of Chicago for a limited run as Billy Flynn in the fall of 2004.

In 2005, Brady temporarily shook off his good guy, daytime television-friendly persona with an appearance on the popular Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central. In addition to hosting a mock episode, Brady appeared in a sketch where he swore, used drugs, and played a pimp. Brady received much attention for his work in the sketch and his acting career continued to take off. Though he continued to work in television in guest spots and movies, Brady acted in a variety of films, including Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, Roll Bounce, and The List. In 2006’s street basketball-focused Crossover, he played the seedy agent Vaughn.

Brady returned to series television in 2006 when he served as the host of the reality series Celebrity Du-ets on FOX. In 2007, after touring in his solo improv show and launching a regular show in Vegas, he began hosting a game show on FOX entitled Don’t Forget the Lyrics. The show was a karaoke-type competition where competitors sing along with a band and a teleprompter for part of a song, but must complete it on their own when the music and lyrics are cut. Because of its popularity, Don’t Forget the Lyrics was expected to run at least through early 2008.

No matter what happens in his career, Brady was grateful to keep working. He told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Thomas, “I really believe that as long as you’re a nice person, you give due where it’s due, and you keep your nose to the grindstone, that you can always work. Maybe someday it won’t be on a big TV show, or it will just be doing theater, but as long as I’m working. I think a lot of people get sucked into the negative side of show business, and that’s not me.”

Sources

Books

Marquis Who’s Who, Marquis Who’s Who, 2008.

Who’s Who Among African Americans, 21st ed., Gale, 2008.

Periodicals

Associated Press Online, September 19, 2002; May 10, 2004; July 4, 2007.

Boston Herald, March 21, 2001, p. O43.

Calgary Herald (Alberta, Canada), August 31, 2005, p. E1.

BPI Entertainment News Wire, January 9, 2004.

Business Wire, January 29, 2002.

Chicago Sun-Times, May 15, 2002, p. 49.

Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, OH), November 12, 2003, p. 8F.

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), November 11, 2003, p. C8.

Globe and Mail (Canada), August 4, 2001, p. 9.

Hollywood Reporter, June 20, 2007.

Jet, February 10, 2003, p. 56; September 18, 2006, p. 60.

Orlando Sentinel (FL), August 29, 2006.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), August 5, 2001, p. 11.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 7, 2001, p. F1.

Tampa Tribune (FL), September 20, 2002, p. 4.

Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), October 15, 2004, p. C17.

Vancouver Province (British Columbia, Canada), February 23, 2007, p. B7.

Washington Post, July 14, 2007, p. C1.

zaptoit, December 6, 2007.

—A. Petruso

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