Black History Month 20 for 20: The Wayans Family - Keep the Family Close
Monday January 30th I was shooting the shit on Twitter as usual, and turned my attention to the love I have for Master P. My friend Courtney with a K inspired me to start this series (as you can see below). For every weekday in February, I will profile Black persons in celebration of Black History Month. #BHM20for20 Why only 20? Y’all too busy sinning on the weekend to read (I’m joking but not really). Thank you Kourtnee.
“MY SON HAS COOKIES!” – Dash Dash
While the cookie may have crumbled for Dame Dash, his heart is in the right place, albeit, delivered wrong. In that same spirit, Keenen Ivory-Wayan and the Wayans Family have let the chips for where they lay (I know it’s may but lay like Lay’s; chips/Lay’s, you see it?) Do yourself a favor and read the following names in the rhythm of What They Really Want: Dwayne, Keenen, Damon Sr., Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Nadia, Elvira, Damien, Cahunté, Dierdre, Craig, Summer, Gregg, Jamel, Justin, Brandee, and Vonnie. That’s JUST immediate family, now peep the branches from their family tree & some careers they helped launch; read the following in Mannie Fresh’s voice on Project Chick: Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, Kim Coles, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, and Laurie Ann Gibson to name a select few.
Since the 1980’s, Keenen Ivory Wayans has worked to secure his family’s legacy in Hollywood; co-writing/starring in Hollywood Shuffle, alongside Robert Townsend; another Black person who doesn’t get the recognition they deserve, especially since he was/is Keenen’s partner/mentor. The cult classic I’m Gonna Git You Sucka furthered the Wayans family name & its prestige because while Keenen Ivory wrote, directed, and starred in the film, we cast his family members in it as well. Kim, Nadia, Marlon, Shawn, and of course Damon Wayans Sr. all played roles in this classic. With that same energy, and intention to keep it in the family, Keenen took the family business to TV with the groundbreaking sketch-comedy show In Living Color.
Groundbreaking for it’s diverse cast, the use of slang as part of its regular vernacular, and obvious Hip-Hop influence, In Living Color helped launch the careers of everyone who was a part of the show. Shawn Wayans wasn’t even a comedian per se but Keenen made sure he was included as he provided the music for the show under the name DJ SW1. The show served as a career launching pad, as it showcased the Wayans family members in various skits alongside future Hollywood heavyweights, the aforementioned Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey (known then as James) and Jennifer Lopez as part of the dance troupe, The Fly Girls. “This mon don’t got no job mon, I work 15 job mon” and the family had them all. Damon Sr. & Marlon would go on to star in Mo’ Money, with former Black woman turned white man “nigger bitch” Stacey Dash. Damon Sr. kept the ball rolling with Last Action Hero, Blankman, & Major Payne. Keenen starred as Shame in A Low Down Dirty Shame, and every single last one of us had a crush on Peaches (Jada Pinkett-Smith). Please always remember this Biggie line, “Major Payne like Damon Wayans, low down dirty even, like his brother Keenen...”
Shawn, and Marlon Wayans would go on to have amazingly successful careers starting with their sitcom Wayans Bros., and continued with their comedy spoof films, Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, the Scary Movie & A Haunted House franchises; Marlon in fact is still going, starring in 2016’s 50 Shades of Black, a spoof of 50 Shades of Grey (Gray?). Damon Sr. would also continue his career but in television with the hugely popular My Wife & Kids; Damon Sr.’s legacy would be furthered by his son Damon Wayans Jr. who has been building up quite the résumé for himself. Damon Jr. starred alongside his dad in Blankman as the younger version of his father, and would also guest star on his father’s sitcom My Wife & Kids. In 2009, Damon Jr. starred in the comedy spoof film Dance Flick, which was directed by his cousin Damien Wayans, while written, and produced by his uncles Keenen Ivory, Shawn & Marlon Wayans. We are family indeed!
Keenen Ivory Wayans is a top 5 real nigga ever, and has shown us Black nepotism exists, works if the talent is there, and there’s nothing wrong with taking care of the family that you came with; word to SYD. Much love, and respect to the Wayans Family aka The First Family of Black Comedy.
See you back here on Monday & remember, don’t ever trust a Black New England Patriots fan; think about it.