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Currently starring on ABC's comedy series " My wife & Kids". Damon Wayans' gift for performing developed when he was a child as a way to capture the attention of his parents and nine siblings. Over the years, his unique comic style has brought him success on stage, television, and film. For three seasons Mr. Wayans co-starred in and wrote for the critically acclaimed Emmy Award-winning series In Living Color, for which he also personally received two Emmy nominations. Throughout his time on the show he created several unique and memorable characters and sketches, including "Homey the Clown," "Handiman" and the wildly popular "Men on Film." Other television credits include Damon. He was the creator and executive producer of 413 Hope Street, an hour-long drama which was nominated for a People's Choice Award. Additionally Mr. Wayans served as an executive producer on Waynehead, a Saturday morning animated show for the WB network which featured the voices of siblings Kim, Marlon and Shawn Wayans. On the big screen Mr. Wayans starred in Bamboozled, a film written and directed by Spike Lee. Additionally he starred in and executive-produced the independent film Harlem Aria. Other feature credits include starring roles in Major Payne, Blankman, Bulletproof and Mo' Money — which he also wrote and executive-produced — as well as The Great White Hype, Celtic Pride, The Last Boy Scout, Earth Girls are Easy, I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka, Colors, Punchline, Hollywood Shuffle, Roxanne and Beverly Hills Cop. Mr. Wayans has also enjoyed success in the world of standup: After beginning his career in 1982 touring the comedy club circuit, he landed a role as a featured performer on the famed Saturday Night Live. He then went on to star in his own critically acclaimed HBO specials, One Night Stand, The Last Stand? and Still Standing. Wayans is no less talented as an author. May of 1999 saw the release of Bootleg, a humorous compilation of his observations regarding family, children, marriage, and politics. The book was a tremendous success and quickly reached the New York Times Bestseller List. Mr. Wayans was the recipient of the 2002 People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series for his role in My Wife and Kids. He resides in Los Angeles. Damon Kyle Wayans was born on September 4, 1960, in New York NY. He has 6 brothers and 3 sisters. Damon is a very tall man, his height is 6' 3'' (1.91 m). He divorced with his wife Lisa Thorner in May, 2000 after 16 years of marriage. Damon has 4 children with Lisa Thorner, Damon Wayans Jr. (b. 1982), 'Michael Wayans' (b. 1985), 'Cara Mia Wayans' (b. 1987), and Kyla Wayans (b. 1991).
Michael Kyle, his character on "My Wife and Kids" (2001), was ranked #27 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
Damon Wayans' best, biggest, quickest, weirdest
Best time of his life: "When people didn't know me and I was doing stand-up. That's when I was most creative. I didn't worry, 'Can I sell it? Am I offending anyone?' It was just me onstage with raw talent. And my marriage was perfect when I wasn't famous."
Biggest difference between him and his kids: "My kids have a competitive drive I never had growing up. I never thought about being famous. But my kids, my brothers' kids -- they think about trying to top what we did."
Quickest possible response time: After his divorce, "I moved seven minutes away. When my son stayed out past his curfew, I'd be there at the door. I've told my kids, 'I'm seven minutes away from a foot in your a--!' "
Weirdest idea in his head: "I'm writing a movie called "Eye Is Free". I'll play a slave who keeps running away. [To stop him,] they cut off his foot, then his legs, then his arms. At the end, he's just an eye, but he's free."
Damon Wayans' secret to success
In the new season of My Wife and Kids, Junior (George O. Gore II) and his girlfriend, Vanessa (Brooklyn Sudano), are parents of a baby boy, forcing Michael and his loving wife, Jay (Tisha Campbell-Martin), to adjust to their new roles. Everyone in the Kyle household has their own opinion on the baby matters and on Junior and Vanessa's relationship.
Oldest daughter Claire's (Jennifer Freeman) relationship with Tony (Andrew McFarlane), the odd and oddly endearing bible enthusiast, has endured. Meanwhile, the Kyles' must reassure little Kady that her place in the family hasn't been taken by the new baby.
My Wife and Kids star Damon Wayans believes the secret to the success of the series comes down to the genuine storylines. "We're not the perfect family," he says. "We're just trying to work out problems that appeal to people. It's universal - and that's the great thing about it."
On the set of My Wife and Kids, Wayans has dealt with complicated story-lines, including teen pregnancy. Wayans, who has four children from a previous marriage, also subscribes to his character's style of strict parenting. "My eldest son Damon Jr is now 21 and I can still make him cry like a baby just by talking to him. It comes down to how I first disciplined him," Wayans explains.
"When I was bad as a kid and I did stuff and got arrested, I'd tell the police not to call my father, I'd rather spend a night in jail than face my father, I think that kind of fear and respect for your parents is good," he says.
Wayans strongly believes in having a family influence on the set. "Damon keeps a family atmosphere here," co-star Tisha Campbell-Martin says. "There're always kids running around all over the place. Damon makes sure there's plenty of family around us. He makea sure this show is relatable to all people."
Damon Wayans' movie ''Bamboozled'' on DVD now
Bamboozled (New Line Platinum Series) (2001) Starring: Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Rapaport ; Director: Spike Lee
Truly Thought Provoking
I'm confused. And if you get "Bamboozled", you will be, too. And that's a good thing.
Bamboozled is basically a movie that attacks, with dead-on accuracy, the media and its constant drive to turn African-American's into baffoons. It shows, in depth, the character assassinations that take place behind closed doors in television stations across the country. And particularly highlighted, are the advertisers who "pimp" members of the Black race to sell their product even as they degrade and destroy them. For example, Tommy Hillfinger, who has publicly stated his distaste for people of color and his distress that his clothing are primarily bought by Blacks, is parodied in this film with such horrible accuracy that it FORCES you to think. And that seems to be the key to MOST of this film.
Sadly, as many of Spike Lee's films do, it crumbles at the end. The ending of this film has absolutely nothing to do with the overall premise, the plot, the build up nor the character assignments. You will wonder throughout the film what the character Julian (Big Black Africa) is going to do and what his group of militants are truly about. Are they rappers? Militants? Actors? What? Well, the answers will not be given at the end and you will still be wondering why they were made a part of this movie in the first place. Probably to justify the grotesque ending, but realistically, we didn't need to get to know them at all for that.
Anyhoo, big props to Jada Pinkett-Smith and Damon Wayans for wonderful performances. And particularly to Tommy Davidson and Savion Glover, without whom I don't think this film would have been half as good. Overall, this was a wonderful movie that forces you to think about the treatment of the African-American in the media, the corporate world and in life period. And I recommend it mainly for the first 1 hour and 45 minutes of the 2 hour 9 minute film. But I can only give it 3 stars because of the misdirected ending which completely blows the strong buildup.
Damon Wayans: Behind the Laughter
For Damon Wayans, being funny is a family requirement. But away from the set of his hit sitcom, "My Wife and Kids", real life is proving a bit less humorous.
It's a strange time for Damon Wayans. Since he created a sitcom based on his adventures with his wife and four kids, he has gotten divorced, his children are dealing with issues too serious for a laugh track, and he finds himself feeling somewhat adrift. "The show has become my therapy," he says.
"My Wife and Kids", now beginning its second season (Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET on ABC), lifts many of its storylines from Wayans' 19-year relationship with his ex-wife, Lisa. "We have four beautiful children and some wonderful memories," he says. "This is my chance to celebrate some of those memories." He admits, however, that his ex never liked having her personal life and sexual relationship with him "celebrated" so publicly, especially in his explicit stand-up act.
"She told me she wished I wouldn't do it. But I said, 'You're part of my life. I've got to talk about you.' " He also tells his kids that if they don't like his use of their lives as material, they should get their own sitcoms or stand-up acts and talk about him.
The fourth of 10 children, Wayans grew up in an apartment in Manhattan's Fulton housing project. He and his siblings had a rule: It was OK to heckle, tease and mock, as long as it was funny. Nothing was off limits. Bringing such an attitude to adult life can lead to anger and resentment in a marriage, but it has made the Wayanses Hollywood's reigning comedic family.
Damon, 41, became a breakout star on older brother Keenen's early-'90s sketch comedy show, "In Living Color". He then slid into movies ("Mo' Money", "The Last Boy Scout") and acclaimed HBO stand-up specials. Keenen directed, and younger brothers Shawn and Marlon wrote and starred in, the mega-hit "Scary Movie" and its sequel. Various sisters and next-generation Wayanses also are pervasive in the business. "All four of Damon's kids work here on the show, plus assorted cousins and a bunch of other people named Wayans," says Don Reo, executive producer of "My Wife and Kids". "It's a real sense of family and community."
For Wayans, exposing the inner workings of his show to his own kids -- two girls, 10 and 14, and two boys, 16 and 18 -- serves several purposes. As they struggle with the divorce (one son's grades had slipped so badly that Wayans hired a tutor to home-school him), it is important to have them close. But there's another reason they all worked on the show this summer, Wayans says. "So few people, especially young black children, have the opportunity to actually watch a show from conception to fruition. This town was built on nepotism. In the old studio days, [TV and movie sets] were a playground where kids could come and create. I tell my kids, 'I can give you a job, but I can't give you a career.' "
Though Wayans offers his kids opportunities he never had, he strives to keep wealth from spoiling them. He summed up his feelings in a bit of dialogue last season on his show, in which he plays the successful owner of a fleet of delivery trucks, living in an upscale suburb. When his TV kids told him, "We've got money," his character snapped, "I've got money. You're broke!"
Wayans tells his own kids the same thing. "I was 12 years old when I had my first job, delivering packages. After that, if I wanted money to buy sneakers or school clothes, my father said I had to buy it myself. My kids have closets full of clothes. I tell them, 'You want something new? Earn money and buy it.' " Wayans has a theory about the influences that mold a child. "It's a combination of genes, environment, economic status and how much food you have on your plate." So how much food was on his plate when he was growing up? "Not much. And for my family, comedically, that was the key to a lot of the humor. The less food, the more time to talk, the more to talk about. Some struggle is healthy. If you can embrace it rather than be angry, you can use it as your pilot light."
His children are growing up in an affluent, gated community near Los Angeles, but Wayans has learned that a gate can't fend off today's risks. Last year, Damon Jr., 18, got his girlfriend pregnant. "He asked me, 'Are you mad?' I said, 'No, but I'll be really upset if you don't take care of your responsibilities.' In our family, we don't abort. The more, the merrier. It took him a while to accept that challenge."
Wayans made no promise to help his son financially. "I didn't get the girl pregnant, but I'm not going to let my son fail. I'll create opportunities for him to make his own way, but I won't write checks for him. My son stepped up, mentally and emotionally."
In her eighth month of pregnancy, however, Damon Jr.'s girlfriend lost the baby. "It was devastating," Wayans says. But their relationship continued. "Now they have their youth back. I tell my son, 'Date. Be smart. Be careful. You weren't smart enough to use a condom. How are you going to handle a marriage?' "
Wayans brings such straight talk to his TV show, too. In spite of its early time slot, he doesn't shy away from mature subjects, says Tisha Campbell-Martin, who plays his wife. "Kids today deal with different issues than in the "Cosby Show" era," she says. "They've been exposed to so much -- "Jerry Springer", MTV, commercials. Damon wants to address real issues, even if it's in a light way." Topics have included everything from masturbation to drug use.
Wayans says he developed his work ethic and tough-love parenting technique by watching his own hard-working father struggle to feed 10 kids. "He got knocked down all the time. Knocked down, got up. Knocked down, got up." A Jehovah's Witness, Wayans' dad was a strict disciplinarian who believed in corporal punishment. But he also had an affable side. "My father was the guy on the block who said hi to everyone," says Wayans' brother Marlon. "He said hi to murderers. But Damon's a grouch. When he's hungry and sleepy, he turns into the devil."
Damon acknowledges he went through an angry-young-man phase. In 1985, at age 25, he landed on "Saturday Night Live" but was fired for not playing a character as scripted. Basically, he defied his bosses on live TV. Why? "It was frustrating, because I thought, 'I don't need to be here if I can't do what I do.' I was so angry I walked around with dark shades on. People asked, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'It's too white in here.'
"I was supposed to play a cop [in the skit]. I played him beyond gay. It would have been funny if I hadn't done it with so much venom. It was an act of rebellion as opposed to a moment of inspiration." He sees a lesson there that's worth sharing with his kids: "Nobody can stop you but you. And shame on you if you're the one who stops yourself."
Wayans still has demons. Since splitting with his wife last year, he purposely has not been involved with any women. "I'm kind of bitter. Until I feel I've buried all that baggage, it's unfair to put it on anyone," he says.
"He's smart to wait," Marlon says. "He needs to come out of the clouds. And after a divorce, kids hurt. His children need him."
Wayans knows he could find female companionship easily. "Being a celebrity, I don't even have to talk. I don't have to buy a drink." But he's not emotionally ready. "My show is my girlfriend," he says.
Late last spring, however, he was in New York filming "Marci X", a comedy in which he plays a rapper. "I was walking up the street and saw this woman. She was just a passer-by. She smiled at me, and my heart, for the first time in a long time, felt something. She didn't say a word. She was a good-looking woman, but it was her smile that got me. I felt like, 'Oh, my God!' " He even returned to that corner on other days at the same hour, hoping she would reappear. He still thinks about her "when I get lonely. I could see that smile every day for the rest of my life and be a happy man."
Told that USA WEEKEND Magazine appears in New York's Daily News and that perhaps the woman will read this story and remember him, Wayans smiles slightly. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be," he says. "It was just nice to know that I could feel that feeling again."
Dialogue: Damon Wayans and Don Reo
"My Wife & Kids" executive producers discuss the show's success and the changing state of the family sitcom.
When Damon Wayans made his way to ABC, he had just come off the Fox sitcom "Damon," in which he starred as a Chicago police detective who found himself in madcap situations during undercover work. That series lasted only one season and "didn't have any direction," according to Wayans, so he took a shot at bringing the page closer to home. Under contract with ABC and after conversations with Jamie Tarses, then president of the network's entertainment division, Wayans embarked on a show about a family that closely resembled his own. In creating "My Wife & Kids," he teamed with Peabody Award winner Don Reo ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "M*A*S*H," "Blossom"), and the partnership -- as well as Wayans' decision to mix his comedy with the inner workings of a family -- proved right. The collaborators spoke recently with Minju Pak for The Hollywood Reporter about how a clear direction has made "Wife" a hit.
The Hollywood Reporter: "My Wife & Kids" mixes comedy with the realities of a contemporary American family. How important is that relationship to the show?
Damon Wayans: It's better to write stories based on truth. The shows that don't come from places that are real just aren't that good -- that's the reality of it. I just live life with a perceptive eye for stories and bring them to the table.
Don Reo: Family shows have changed over the years because families have changed -- because America has changed. Just look at the sitcoms of the 1950s and '60s: The moral tone of families has changed.
THR: The most talked-about comparison to your series is "The Cosby Show." How do you feel about that association?
Wayans: It's an honor to be compared to "The Cosby Show" -- I still use it as a reference. Bill Cosby raised the bar. That's the one thing I did walking into this show, is make sure that it's not about me being a black man but about me being a man with a wife and children -- let's find stories about that.
Reo: I absolutely welcome it; to be compared with one of the best shows of all time is pretty good. We actually made a concerted effort and specifically decided, before we started the pilot, to ignore race -- we were only going to write a show about a family. Obviously it's a black family -- we figured that people would recognize that right away -- but we wanted to do stories about family that everybody could relate to.
THR: The show has consistently brought in viewers since the pilot aired in 2001. Why do you think "My Wife & Kids" appeals to such a wide audience?
Reo: The central thing that it takes to get a hit television show is a charismatic star; you have to have that person who America wants to see and fall in love with, and Damon certainly was and is that. That's the key thing toward a hit show. We've also got such fantastic actors.
Wayans: We have such a wonderful cast, and I think my irreverent style of comedy works for the show. I also think there's a great chemistry between these family members because we're doing real stories; I think people are relating to its realness.
THR: How does 100 episodes feel?
Reo: You never think you're going to hit 100; it seems to be an impossible goal. You have to take it a piece at a time.
Wayans: We just go out there and do our show and let people know that we're doing our show. I know what an accomplishment it is to have a good show, but I really won't be able to pat myself on the back until we're done.
Damon Wayans' comedy show ''My wife and Kids''
Popular film and television star Damon Wayans plays Michael Kyle, a man on a tragically funny quest for a "traditional" family. He's a not-so-modern man living in a very modern world. Can you relate?
His stay-at-home bride (Tisha Campbell-Martin) became a stock market trailblazer. His only son idolizes gangster rap stars instead of him. His moody, adolescent daughter's two favorite hobbies are asking him for money and giving him grief. And his youngest daughter rarely lets her daddy have the last word.
Perhaps after all of the chaos is over, he will realize that his dream of having a normal American family came true a long time ago.
Damon Wayans and Don Reo are co-creators and executive producers of My Wife and Kids. David Himelfarb is an executive producer, and Eric Gold is a co-executive producer of the half-hour comedy series from Touchstone Television. The series premiered March 28, 2001.