Debra Wilson

Nov 23, 2008 by     Comments Off on Debra Wilson    Posted under: Comedian, Female Black Comedians

debrawilsonDebra Renee Wilson Skelton (born April 26, 1962) is an American comedienne and actress. Wilson is notable for being one of the original cast members on the sketch comedy series MADtv and for once being the longest-serving cast member on the show. (That record was tied by fellow cast member Aries Spears in 2005 and broken by Michael McDonald in 2006). She has also done voice work for the animated series The Oblongs, American Dad, Family Guy, Gary and Mike, The Proud Family and Clone High.


Wilson was born and raised in New York City, in the neighborhood of Ozone Park, Queens. Wilson attended the New York City High School of the Performing Arts. After graduation, she continued her studies at Syracuse University, working in television and radio broadcasting. Her acting debut was on the television pilot The Apollo Comedy Hour. Following this success she became a series regular on The Uptown Comedy Club and co-hosted Can We Shop? with Joan Rivers. She was hosting various programming on the TV Guide Channel until October 2006. Wilson married writer/director Cliff Skelton in April 2006.



Wilson was one of the original eight cast members of MADtv when the series aired in 1995. Wilson came to the show with a background in sketch comedy, improv and television. MADtv was her third TV series, although she had done stand up in New York for one year. Wilson was credited for creating some of the most popular recurring characters on the show. Among her characters were Cloret, Latina bimbo Melina (Lida and Melina), Reality Check’s Tovah McQueen, Stick Chick Autumn, Kappa Kappa Kappa sorority sister Hayden Brooks, Alexis Dubane (Prehistoric Glamazon Huntresses), blaxploitation actress Cocoa Latite (Son of Dolemite), Lowered Expectations Host and Ms. Not Nice (Jenny Jones). Perhaps her best known character was the fast talking “Black American Princess” Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson. The character quickly accuses other characters’ most basic assertions as being motivated by racism.
Debra Wilson as Whitney Houston.

She frequently appeared as Oprah Winfrey, often paired up with Michael McDonald as supposed lover Dr. Phil McGraw, or with Aries Spears as long-time companion Stedman Graham. The character would be reprised in Scary Movie 4, which spoofed the Tom Cruise couch-jumping incident in 2005, on E! Entertainment and on Comic Relief 2006 on HBO and TBS.

Her most well known impersonation was of R&B diva Whitney Houston. Wilson would parody Houston’s reported frequent fights with her husband Bobby Brown (played by Aries Spears), and her reported drug use (in the Christmas 2002 episode, Wilson portrayed Houston with frequent seriousness and smiles as to mimic her interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC.

Other impressions included BeyoncĂ© Knowles, Brandy, Chris Tucker, Condoleezza Rice, Jada Pinkett Smith, Downtown Julie Brown, Lil’ Kim, Macy Gray, Mariah Carey, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tisha Campbell.

When Nicole Sullivan left MADtv in 2001, Wilson became the last original cast member on the show. After eight seasons as a cast member, Wilson left in 2003. She and Sullivan were the only cast members to be given special recognition during their last appearance. At the time of her departure, Wilson held the record for the longest serving MADtv cast member. Wilson, along with fellow former cast members Sullivan and Will Sasso, would reappear in the 2004-2005 season, both reprising some of their famous characters.

After three years away from MADtv, Wilson returned for the 300th episode on November 17, 2007 (where she was credited as “Debra Wilson-Skelton” during the opening credits) doing her famous impression of Whitney Houston.

Television projects

Since her debut on MADtv, Wilson has done voice acting on episodes on numerous television shows, landing some recurring roles on such shows as Clone High, Family Guy, and The Mr. Potato Head Show. She voiced Captain Lisa Cusak in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Sound of Her Voice”.

Wilson has made numerous independent films, including Jane White Is Sick and Twisted, Skin Deep (in which she performed in her first frontal nude scene) and Soulmates. She was also in an episode of Without a Trace as a nurse. She and Sullivan have done commercials for Pepsi’s Sierra Mist. She appeared as herself on the February 15, 1999, episode of WCW Monday Nitro accompanying MADtv castmate Will Sasso in his professional wrestling match against Bret Hart.

She was the co-host of TV Guide Channel’s TV Watercooler with John Fugelsang, until she was replaced by Teresa Strasser in October 2006. She also participated in VH1’s Celebrity Paranormal Project, where she was the first celebrity to make direct emotional contact with a spirit.

Theater projects

Wilson performed off-Broadway with the improvisational comedy troupe Noo Yawk Tawk directed by Richmond Shepard at The Village Gate (1988-1991).

Personal life

Wilson has two cats and an Emperor scorpion. She often volunteers as an actress with the Young Storytellers Program. Wilson plays the Aboriginal didgeridoo and collects slide puzzles. Her favorite subjects are forensics and the paranormal.

Official Homepage: N/A

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