Damon Wayans

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Damon Wayans Sr.
Damon Wayans.JPG
Wayans in 2008
Birth nameDamon Kyle Wayans
Born (1960-09-04) September 4, 1960 (age 62)
New York City, U.S.
  • Film
  • stand-up
  • television
Years active1981–present
  • Family
  • marriage
  • American politics
  • everyday life
Lisa Thorner
(m. 1984; div. 2000)
Children4, including Damon Wayans Jr.
Relative(s)See Wayans family

Damon Kyle Wayans Sr. (/ˈdmən ˈw.ənz/;[1] born September 4, 1960)[2] is an American actor, comedian, producer, and writer. Wayans performed as a comedian and actor throughout the 1980s, including a year long stint on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.

His true breakthrough, however, came as writer and performer on FOX's sketch comedy show In Living Color (1990-1992), on his animated series Waynehead (1996-1997) and on his TV series Damon (1998). Since then, he has starred in a number of films and television shows, some of which he has co-produced or co-written, including Beverly Hills Cop, The Last Boy Scout, and Major Payne and the sitcom My Wife and Kids. From 2016 to 2019, he starred as Roger Murtaugh in the television series Lethal Weapon. He is a member of the Wayans family of entertainers.

Early life[edit]

Wayans was born in Harlem[3] in New York City, the son of Elvira Alethia (Green), a homemaker, singer[4] and social worker, and Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager.[5][6][7][8][9] He has five sisters—Elvira, Vonnie, Nadia, Kim and Diedra—and four brothers—Keenen, Marlon, Shawn and Dwayne. He was club footed as a child.

This attribute would also be given to his character in My Wife and Kids, and his character on the short lived cartoon series Waynehead. Wayans attended Murry Bergtraum High School.[10]


Damon started doing stand-up comedy in 1982. His earliest film appearance was a brief cameo as an effeminate hotel employee in the Eddie Murphy film of 1984, Beverly Hills Cop. From 1985 to 1986, he appeared on Saturday Night Live as a featured performer, before getting fired after just eleven episodes for improvising during a live sketch, playing his character as a flamboyant gay cop instead of a straight cop. (Damon continued this sketch character in his family created show In Living Color on Fox Television, in 1990, as the flamboyant gay character, Blaine Edwards, an obvious hat tip to Blake Edwards of movies starring The Pink Panther.) Wayans later claimed that he wanted to be fired due to lack of creative freedom and screen time. Wayans further explained that Lorne Michaels did not want Wayans to do too much too soon and begin drawing comparisons to Eddie Murphy who had just left the show.[11] He also appeared in the syndicated television series Solid Gold during the 1980s as a comedian.

With his brother Keenen, Wayans created the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color, which had a mostly African-American cast. The show went on the air in April 1990. It continued running until May 1994, although Wayans left the show in 1992 to pursue a film career.

After In Living Color, he starred in films such as Mo' Money, The Last Boy Scout, Major Payne, Celtic Pride, Bulletproof, and The Great White Hype, and wrote and starred in the film Blankman. He also appeared in Janet Jackson's video "The Best Things in Life Are Free" and was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (the role went to Jim Carrey, his co star from In Living Color and Earth Girls Are Easy).

In October 1996, he produced Waynehead, a short lived cartoon for The WB, loosely based on his own childhood growing up in a large family, starring a poor boy with a club foot. The show only lasted a season due to poor ratings. From 1997 to 1998, he was the executive producer of 413 Hope St., a short lived drama on the FOX network starring Richard Roundtree and Jesse L. Martin.

In March 1998, he starred in the short lived comedy television series Damon, in which he played a detective from Chicago. It aired on Fox. In 1999, his The New York Times bestselling book Bootleg, with co author David Asbery was published; it is a humorous compilation of his observations about family.[12]

In October 2000, he was the lead in Spike Lee's Bamboozled. Wayans starred in the ABC comedy series My Wife and Kids from March 2001 to May 2005. In the end of 2006, he produced and starred in the Showtime sketch comedy series The Underground, which also featured his son, Damon Jr. He also hosted the June 2006 BET Awards.

In 2011, he also added author of a serious fictional novel to his credits with "Red Hats" which is the story of a suicidal sixty five-year-old woman who finds friendship and happiness, when she joins the Red Hat Society. As of 2014, Wayans continues to perform stand-up comedy and has developed apps with his company of freelancers "MIMS" (Money in My Sleep).[4] The company created applications such as Flick Dat, Diddeo[13] and VHedz.[4]

On November 12, 2015, at the Irvine Improv, Damon Wayans announced his retirement from stand up commencing December 2015. In September 2016, he was cast as Roger Murtaugh in the television version of Lethal Weapon, a role originated by Danny Glover in the film series. On October 3, 2018, it was reported that Wayans would leave Lethal Weapon after filming of the first thirteen episodes of Season 3 wrapped.[14] Lethal Weapon officially ended in February 2019, after three seasons.

Damon Wayans is returning with a new project at ABC and is reteaming with My Wife and Kids co-creator Don Reo on the new family comedy, Let's Stay Together (working title). The project, now in development, will be produced by ABC Studios, a division of Disney TV Studios.

Awards and honors[edit]

Wayans received four Emmy awards nominations for his acting and writing in In Living Color.

For his role in My Wife and Kids, he won the 2002 People's Choice Awards for Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series,[15] and received four International Press Academy "Golden Satellite Award" nominations.

Personal life[edit]

Wayans was married to Lisa Thorner; they divorced in 2000. He has four children with Thorner: sons Damon Wayans Jr. and Michael Wayans and daughters Cara Mia Wayans and Kyla Wayans. He is also a grandfather.[4] He is the uncle of Damien Dante Wayans, Chaunté Wayans and Craig Wayans.

Wayans is a close personal friend of both NBA legend Michael Jordan and fellow In Living Color star Jim Carrey.

Wayans was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in January 2013.[16]

In September 2015, Wayans defended American comedian Bill Cosby from his sexual assault accusations, stating, "It's a money hustle". He continued, saying, "Forty years – listen, how big is his penis that it gives you amnesia for 40 years? If you listen to them talk, they go, 'Well, the first time...' The first time? Bitch, how many times did it happen? Just listen to what they're saying and some of them really is unrape-able. I look at them and go, 'You don't want that. Get outta here.'"[17][18]

In Living Color[edit]


  • Whiz (Homeboy Shopping Network)
  • Homey D. Clown
  • Blaine Edwards (Men on...)
  • Handi-Man
  • Reverend Ed Cash
  • Anton Jackson
  • Head Detective
  • Tom Brothers (w/Keenen Ivory Wayans)
  • Oswald Bates




Year Title Role Notes
1984 Beverly Hills Cop Banana Man
1986 Triplecross Ornery Character No. 1 TV Movie
1987 Hollywood Shuffle Body Guard No. 2 / Willie
Roxanne Jerry
1988 Colors T-Bone
Earth Girls Are Easy Zeebo
Punchline Percy
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Leonard
1990 Look Who's Talking Too Eddie (voice)
1991 The Last Boy Scout Jimmy Alexander Dix
1992 Mo' Money Johnny Stewart
1993 Last Action Hero Himself
1994 Blankman Darryl Walker / Blankman
1995 Major Payne Major Benson Winefred Payne
1996 Celtic Pride Lewis Scott
The Great White Hype James 'The Grim Reaper' Roper
Bulletproof Detective Jack Carter / Rock Keats
1999 Harlem Aria Wes
Goosed Dr. Steven Hemel
2000 Bamboozled Pierre Delacroix
2003 Marci X Dr. S.
2004 Behind the Smile Charlie Richman
2006 Farce of the Penguins Hey, That's My Ass! Penguin (voice)
Legends Bells Himself TV Movie
2008 Never Better Keith TV Movie
2009 Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy Himself
2011 Herd Mentality Jimmy Crowder TV Short
2023 Cinnamon Wally


Year Title Role Notes
1985–86 Saturday Night Live Himself/Various Characters Main Cast: Season 11
1987 Sweet Surrender Ray Episode: "The Holdens Go to Dinner"
A Different World Marvin Haven Episode: "War of the Words"
1989 One Night Stand Himself Episode: "Damon Wayans"
1990–93 In Living Color Himself/Various Characters Main Cast (seasons 1-3); recurring guest star (season 4)
1998 Damon Damon Thomas Main Cast
2001–05 My Wife and Kids Michael Kyle Main Cast
2006 The Underground Himself/Various Characters Main Cast
2011 Happy Endings Francis Williams Episode: "Like Father, Like Gun"
2016–19 Lethal Weapon Roger Murtaugh Main Cast
2018 Happy Together Mike Davis Episode: "Like Father, Like Son"
2021 Live in Front of a Studio Audience Willis Drummond Episode: "Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life"[19]


  1. ^ You nay it how? Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Damon Wayans Biography: Film Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Director, Producer (1960–)". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on November 5, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  3. ^ Tucker, Ernest (April 14, 1989). "Militant Wayans is mellowing out". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 9.
  4. ^ a b c d "Triangulation 175 Damon Wayans – TWiT.TV". TWiT.tv. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014.
  5. ^ "Keenen Ivory Wayans' Interactive Family Tree". PBS. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  6. ^ "Shawn Wayans Biography (1971–)". filmreference.com. Archived from the original on April 28, 2008.
  7. ^ Stein, Joel (September 11, 2000). "Marlon Wayans". Time. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008.
  8. ^ The Movie Chicks – Interview – Marlon Wayans Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 19, 2016, PBS
  10. ^ "Damon Wayans Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Archived from the original on June 28, 2011.
  11. ^ McCarthy, Sean L. (September 8, 2015). "What Damon Wayans said in 2015 about getting fired at SNL, In Living Color, Kevin Hart, social media, and yes, Bill Cosby". The Comic's Comic. Archived from the original on October 13, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "Chatpage – Books – Damon Wayans". CNN. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008.
  13. ^ Interview: Damon Wayans Sr. Archived August 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Joonbug.com February 14, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  14. ^ Munroe, Jill (October 3, 2018). "Damon Wayans Shockingly Quits 'Lethal Weapon' with Exclusive Announcement to EUR". eurweb.com. Retrieved October 3, 2018. An emotional and clearly hurting Damon Wayans went on to explain that as a 58-year-old diabetic, working 16-hour days had become too much. He also felt the strain that his current job was putting on his personal life. His mother and daughter recently underwent surgeries that the actor said he missed because he was working.
  15. ^ "PCA Winners – People's Choice". peopleschoice.com. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  16. ^ Devores, Courtney (May 22, 2014). "Damon Wayans Sr. confronts diabetes with a fork and a laugh". Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on December 7, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Kenneally, Tim (September 4, 2015). "Bill Cosby Scandal Blasted as a 'Money Hustle' by Damon Wayans (Video)". Yahoo. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  18. ^ Chen, Joyce (September 6, 2015). "Damon Wayans Defends Bill Cosby, Calls Accusers "Bitches" and "Unrapeable"". US Weekly. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  19. ^ Rose, Lacey (November 19, 2021). "Kevin Hart, John Lithgow, Ann Dowd, Damon Wayans to Star in ABC's Live 'Diff'rent Strokes'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 30, 2021.

External links[edit]