Date of Birth: September 4, 1960
For actor, writer, producer Damon Wayans, the path to film stardom comes with a price tag that he feels may be a bit too high. "I don't ever want to be Number One because once you become Number One, you start to change. You get
scrutinized on everything you do and you're suddenly afraid to take chances. I need to take chances. I need to work. I don't want to be a superstar."
Wayans spent his childhood feeling scrutinized. Growing up poor in the Fulton Housing Projects of New York and born with a misshapen foot, Wayans was ostracized by other children. Being one of 10 children (brothers Keenen, Marlon, Shawn and Dwyane and sisters Kim, Evonnie, Deirdra, Nadia and Elvira) meant he had built in playmates
and protectors from the harshness of other children. Coming from a large family wasn't the answer
to everything though. Many times Wayans' parents were unable to provide enough food for their brood and he often went to school hungry and unable to concentrate. As a result, he was labeled difficult and dropped out
of high school in the ninth grade.
Surgery eventually fixed his foot, but the severe shyness that had developed as a result was sometimes debilitating. He found that he was able to cope by relying on his comedic skills. Wayans eventually landed a job at the American Express mailroom. In an effort to impress his sister's boyfriend, with whom he was working, Wayans followed him in a scheme to steal credit cards and got caught. It turned out that he was turned in by the man he was trying to impress, the one who taught him the scam in the first place. After that, Wayan's confidence took another nosedive. "I was devastated by the
experience. I was humiliated and went right back into my shell. I became an introvert again and never trusted another man. To this day, I can trust a woman but I will never trust a man."
Following in another man's footsteps was ironically what got him into the show business world. His older brother Keenen was doing stand-up in the comedy clubs and Wayan's girlfriend Lisa, who later became his wife,
convinced him that he could be just as good as his older brother. In 1982, he wrote a routine and performed it in a club and his career was launched. After touring the circuit he landed a gig with Saturday Night Live and from there, made his debut in films. His first feature was the successful Beverly Hills Cop, with Eddie Murphy. He followed that up with a number of
supporting roles in films including, Punchline, Colors, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka and the action film The Last Boy Scout, in which is co-starred with
After the success of his pairing with Willis, Wayans was able to get his own screenplay for the film Mo' Money made. He wrote, produced and starred in
the film. In 1992 he joined his family on the television series In Living Color and created memorable characters with Homey the Clown and the regular
skit Men on Film.
After three seasons the show was cancelled and Wayans went on to have a successful film career and happy home life with his wife and their four children. "I already am successful; I believe anyone who is married and
raising children is successful. Everything else is just gravy."
In August 2000, Wayans' wife of 16 years divorced him.
Harlem Aria (1999)
The Great White Hype (1996)
Celtic Pride (1996)
Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
Major Payne (1995) (actor, writer, producer)
Blankman (1994) (actor, writer, producer)
Last Action Hero (1993)
Mo' Money (1992) (actor, writer, producer)
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Look Who's Talking Too (1990) (voice)
Earth Girls Are Easy (1989)
I'm Gonna Get You Sucka (1988)
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)