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Keenen Ivory Wayans Sr. (born June 8, 1958) is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, and a member of the Wayans family of entertainers. He first came to prominence as the host and the creator of the 1990–1994 Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color. He has produced, directed and/or written numerous films, starting with Hollywood Shuffle, which he co wrote, in 1987.

Keenen Ivory Wayans
Wayans in 2013
Keenen Ivory Wayans

(1958-06-08) June 8, 1958 (age 61)
New York City, New York, United States
EducationTuskegee University
OccupationActor, comedian, filmmaker
Years active1979–2009; 2013–present
FamilySee Wayans family
Awards1990-Emmy Award Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
In Living Color (as executive producer)

A majority of these films have included him and one or more of his brothers and sisters in the cast.

One of these films, Scary Movie (2000), which Wayans directed, was the highest-grossing movie ever directed by an African American until it was surpassed by Tim Story's Fantastic Four in 2005. From 1997 to 1998, he hosted the talk show The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show.[1] Most recently, he was a judge for the eighth season of Last Comic Standing.


Life and careerEdit

Wayans was born in Harlem, New York City, son of Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager, and his wife Elvira Alethia (Green), a homemaker and social worker.[2][3] His father was a devout Jehovah's Witness.[4][5][6] The family later moved to Manhattan's Fulton housing projects,[7] where he primarily grew up. He attended Seward Park High School during his teenage years, and attended Tuskegee University on an engineering scholarship.[7] He entertained his friends at college with made-up stories about life in New York.[8] One semester before graduation, he dropped out of school to focus on comedy.[9]

During his first set performing at The Improv in New York, Wayans met Robert Townsend, who helped him learn about the comedy business.[8] Townsend and Wayans drove cross country to Los Angeles together when Wayans moved to Los Angeles in 1980.[8] They did not speak for a year afterwards. Wayans worked there as an actor. He had a regular role as a soldier on a television series named "For Love and Honor".[8] He also appeared on Hill Street Blues as a famous NFL line backer.

Townsend wrote, directed, and starred in the movie Hollywood Shuffle; Wayans was co star and co writer.[8] The movie's success allowed him to raise the money to make I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.[8] Fox Broadcasting Company approached Wayans to offer him his own show.[10] Wayans wanted to produce a variety show, similar to Saturday Night Live, with a cast of people of color that took chances with its content.[7]

Fox gave Wayans a lot of freedom with the show, although Fox executives were a bit concerned about the show's content prior to its television debut.[10] Wayans created, wrote, and starred in the show, called In Living Color, an American sketch comedy television series that originally ran on the Fox Network from 1990 to 1994.

Wayans is a vegetarian, and has promoted the diet in a public service announcement of 2006 for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.[11][12]

In Living ColorEdit


  • Death Row Comic (Prison Cable Access)
  • Frenchie
  • Ice Man (Homeboy Shopping Network)
  • Tom Brothers (The Brothers Brothers)
  • Wes (Wes & Les)



Year Title Role
1983 Star 80 Comic
1983 For Love and Honor Duke
1987 A Different World Professor Lawrence
1987 Hollywood Shuffle Donald/Jheri Curl
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Jack Spade
1994 A Low Down Dirty Shame Shame
1996 Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood Mailman
1996 The Glimmer Man Det. Jim Campbell
1997 Most Wanted Gunnery Sergeant James Dunn
2000 Scary Movie Slave (Amistad II)
2001 My Wife and Kids Ken
2009 Dance Flick Mr. Stache
2013 Happily Divorced Tony
2014 Last Comic Standing Judge

Writing/producing/directing creditsEdit


  1. ^ Braxton, Greg (August 3, 1997). "Will 'Hip' Equal 'Hit'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  2. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 19, 2016, PBS
  3. ^ PBS
  4. ^ Keenen Ivory Wayans Biography (1958–)
  5. ^ Stein, Joel (September 11, 2000). "Marlon Wayans". Time.
  6. ^ The Movie Chicks – Interview – Marlon Wayans
  7. ^ a b c Laurence, Robert P. (April 13, 1990). "Is prime time ready for rudeness? Fox's new comedy 'In Living Color' will offend some, tickle others". The San Diego Union. p. E1.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Hughes, Mike (April 13, 1990). "Laughing with 'Living Color'". USA Today.
  9. ^ McIntyre, Mike (February 16, 1989). "Keenen Wayans gambles and wins on an offbeat 'Sucka'". The San Diego Union. p. E3.
  10. ^ a b "New Fox Show Pokes Fun at Black Stereotypes". Associated Press. Greensboro, North Carolina: Greensboro News & Record. April 12, 1990. p. B6.
  11. ^ "Keenen Ivory Wayans". TV Guide. Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Do It for Someone You Love: Keenan Ivory Wayans". Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External linksEdit