Marlon Wayans: Family First…Always

(Photo credit: Marlon Wayans Instagram)

Marlon Wayans is so much more than a comedian and actor from one of the funniest families in history. Even though he can and has stood on his own, it was his family that he leans on, draws inspiration from and believes in. He and brother Shawn costarred in the WB sitcom The Wayans Bros., a largely autobiographical show based on the brothers’ real relationship and personalities.

The Wayans Bros., which ran from 1995 to ’99, helped transform Marlon Wayans into one of the most prominent members of his decorated family. Then, in 2000, he co-wrote and acted in his most popular film to date, the blockbuster horror spoof Scary Movie. The film, which cost only $19 million to make, earned an astounding $157 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film ever directed by an African-American (Keenen Ivory Wayans) before getting beat out by 2017’s Get Out.

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Marlon’s real-life father, Howell Wayans, was a supermarket manager and his mother, Elvira Wayans, was a homemaker. Marlon, being the youngest, was picked on and was the butt of many jokes growing up. Packed into a small apartment in the Fulton housing projects on the West Side of Manhattan, the family came up from very humble beginnings and struggled to get by.

“We called my dad an entre-poor-neur,” Marlon says.

Simply feeding all those mouths was difficult. After all, you had:
Keenan Ivory Wayans
Damon Wayans
Dwayne Wayans
Kim Wayans
Elvira Wayans
Nadia Wayans
Deidre Wayans
Vonnie Wayans
Shawn Wayans
…and Marlon Wayans.

Many mornings, breakfast was just puffed rice cereal bought in bulk. Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches with, as Shawn described it, “government cheese where the cheese don’t melt.” Sometimes, they ate ”peanut butter or jelly,” Marlon added. “We never had peanut butter and jelly.”

But with the success of older brother Keenan Ivory Wayans, he opened the doors for all the other members of the Wayans clan to show their talent as well and shine, each in their respective time, including Marlon. In addition to the spoof films he made with his siblings, Marlon also branched out into more serious films with other actors. “A lot of people just think I’m funny and crazy all the time,” he says, “but…