Keenen Ivory Wayans
Wayans in 2019
Keenen Ivory Desuma Wayans

(1958-06-08) June 8, 1958 (age 65)
EducationTuskegee University
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • filmmaker
Years active1979–present
Daphne Wayans
(m. 2001; div. 2005)
PartnerBrittany Daniel (2007–2014)
FamilyWayans family
Awards1990–Emmy Award Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
In Living Color (as executive producer)

Keenen Ivory Desuma Wayans (born June 8, 1958)[1] is an American actor, comedian, and filmmaker. He is a member of the Wayans family of entertainers. Wayans first came to prominence as the host and creator of the 1990–1994 Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color. He has produced, directed or written several films, starting with Hollywood Shuffle, which he cowrote, in 1987. Most of his films have included him and one or more of his siblings in the cast.

One of these films, Scary Movie (2000), which Wayans directed, was the highest-grossing movie 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.[2] Most recently, he was a judge for the eighth season of Last Comic Standing.

Life and career

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.[3] He was the second of ten children.[4] Genealogical TV show Finding Your Roots revealed that his paternal line traced back to Madagascar.[4] His father was a devout Jehovah's Witness.[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 to Los Angeles together when Wayans moved to Los Angeles in 1980.[8] Wayans worked there as an actor. He had a regular role as a soldier on the television series For Love and Honor[8] and appeared on Hill Street Blues as an NFL linebacker.

Townsend wrote, directed, and starred in the movie Hollywood Shuffle; Wayans was costar and cowriter.[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 before its debut.[10] Wayans created, wrote, and starred in the show, In Living Color, a sketch comedy television series that originally ran on Fox from 1990 to 1994.

Personal life

Wayans married Daphne Wayans in 2001, but the couple filed for divorce in 2004.[11]

In Living Color




Year Title Role
1983 Star 80 Comic
1983 For Love and Honor Duke
1986 Benson Clete Hawkins
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 Andre Shame
1996 Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood Mailman
1996 The Glimmer Man Lieutenant Jim Campbell
1997 Most Wanted Gunnery Sergeant James Anthony Dunn
2000 Scary Movie Slave (Amistad II)
2001 My Wife and Kids Ken
2009 Dance Flick Mr. Stache
2009 Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy Himself
2013 Happily Divorced Tony
2014 Last Comic Standing Judge

Writing/producing/directing credits

Year Title Director Writer Producer Note
1987 Hollywood Shuffle No Yes No
1987 Eddie Murphy Raw No Yes Yes
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Yes Yes No
1990-1992 In Living Color Yes Yes executive creator
1991 The Five Heartbeats No Yes No
1994 A Low Down Dirty Shame Yes Yes No
1996 Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood No No Yes
1997 The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show No No executive
1997 Most Wanted No Yes executive
2000 Scary Movie Yes No No
2001 Scary Movie 2 Yes No No
2004 White Chicks Yes Yes Yes
2006 Little Man Yes Yes Yes
2009 Dance Flick No Yes Yes
2017 The Boo Crew No Yes Yes creator
2020 The Last O.G. No Yes No episode: "Lookin' at The Front Door"


  1. ^ "Keenen Ivory Wayans". PBS. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Braxton, Greg (August 3, 1997). "Will 'Hip' Equal 'Hit'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  3. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 19, 2016, PBS
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Martin (January 18, 2016). "Finding Your Roots: Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph and Keenen Ivory Wayans Learn Shocking Facts About Their Families". The Root. G/O Media Inc. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  5. ^ Stein, Joel (September 11, 2000). "Marlon Wayans". Time. Archived from the original on November 4, 2007.
  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". Greensboro, North Carolina: Greensboro News & Record. Associated Press. April 12, 1990. p. B6.
  11. ^ "Keenen Ivory Wayans files for divorce". Today. NBC. May 7, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2024.