Damon Wayans Jr
Damon Wayans, Jr. was born at his grandmother’s home in Vermont in November 1982. His father, Damon Wayans, Jr., and mother, Lisa Thorner, raised the future star in Los Angeles, where the young boy watched as numerous family members changed the face of television with the hit sketch comedy series “In Living Color” (Fox, 1990-94). The young Wayans made his feature film debut at the age of 11, playing the younger version of his dad’s character, Kevin, in the disabled superhero movie “Blankman” (1994), based on one of Damon, Sr.’s “In Living Color” characters.
After high school, Wayans attended the Otis School for Art and Design, where he trained in acting. He landed a recurring role as Kevin on his father’s series “My Wife and Kids” (ABC, 2001-05). Wanting to expand his palette, Wayans also began writing for the show at the age of 20, making history as the youngest staff writer on television. He worked with his father again on the Showtime sketch comedy series “The Underground” (2006), a raunchier version of “In Living Color” that once prompted Damon, Sr. to say “We decided to test the limits” during an opening monologue.
Even with a surname that could have helped launch his career, Wayans opted to enter the world of stand-up comedy on his own. He performed under the pseudonym Kyle Green and worked the comedy circuit all the way to a featured stint on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” (1992- ). The actor also wrote, directed, and starred in sketches for “Way-Out TV,” a website launched in 2007 that his father helped him create. Damon, Sr. spoke out how proud he was that his son had taken reign of his own career as well, but humorously added, “I’ll create opportunities for him to make his own way, but I won’t write checks for him.”
In 2009, Wayans starred in his first major film “Dance Flick,” directed by his cousin Damien Wayans, and co-written by uncles Keenen Ivory, Shawn, Marlon and Craig. He played Thomas Uncles, a street dancer who falls in love with a former ballerina. The film spoofed the tired teen dance genre exemplified with movies like “Step Up” (2006) and “Save the Last Dance” (2001). Two years later, Wayans, Jr. hit paydirt and effectively made a name for himself outside of a family project on the quirky sitcom, “Happy Endings” (ABC, 2011- ), starring as Brad Williams, one of six buddies living in Chicago who navigate various romantic misadventures, including hook-ups within the group. Flying under the Nielsen radar at first, the show – often compared to a modern, edgier take on the seminal sitcom “Friends” (NBC, 1994-2004) – became a breakout hit during its first year.