Shawn Wayans: Seriously Though

    The Wayans family started their movement in the ‘80s with work on memorable films like I’m Gonna Get You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle, and in 1990 they premiered the classic comedy sketch show In Living Color. Even though the content was humorous, the Wayans were able to keep a conscious edge to much […]



The Wayans family started their movement in the ‘80s with work on memorable films like I’m Gonna Get You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle, and in 1990 they premiered the classic comedy sketch show In Living Color. Even though the content was humorous, the Wayans were able to keep a conscious edge to much of their work.


While Keenen Ivory Wayans may have set the pace for maintaining creative control of their projects, it wasn’t long before younger brothers Shawn and Marlon took their own path. The duo flexed their directing and producing skills with their own series The Wayans Bros. from 1995 to 1999, and moved into the new millennium with bigger goals. As actors, writers, directors, producers and consultants, their collective legacy grew with the highly successful Scary Movie series and other feature films like White Chicks and Little Man.


Although it’s been nearly two decades since Hollywood Shuffle debuted, there are still a lot of issues with African-American actors getting good roles in Hollywood. We took a brief time out with the forever-busy Shawn Wayans to find out what is coming up for the family, and discussed why it is so important for them to maintain creative control with every project they touch. Alternatives: You have a new movie coming out at Christmas that you’re promoting right now. Tell us about that film and what inspired you to get involved with it.


Shawn Wayans: Yes, it’s actually a children’s animated special called A Boo Crew Christmas, which is the second follow up to our Sneaker Madness special that we did for going back to school. The Boo Crew Christmas is a throwback to the old school Charlie Brown Christmas specials in a sense. The Boo Crew is a group of kids growing up in the hood of Boo York City who go through the trials and tribulations of everyday life, universal themes like never giving up on your dreams and blood is thicker than water, your everyday standard universal stuff.


It’s a multi-ethnic group of kids hanging out and getting along. When you look at the landscape of television there’s a lot of crazy, funny shows out there, but there’s nothing that connects with kids everyday experiences. So we wanted to do something to make kids laugh and have a good time, but we also wanted to educate them in a fun way. Also, for A Boo Crew Christmas there is a soundtrack on iTunes to go along with it. It’s a cute little kids Hip-Hop Christmas album. No cursing, just nice feel good music. Do you plan on moving into the more dramatic things, or are you more comfortable in the comedy realm?


Shawn Wayans: I’m completely comfortable in the comedy realm, and I don’t really have plans of doing the dramatic thing. We definitely have plans of expanding our brand and branching off into other areas such as animation and things like that, but my thing is keeping it comedic. I’m not saying I’ll never do [drama], it just doesn’t excite me. Do you feel there’s still a challenge in Hollywood for Black actors to get the bigger and more serious roles?


Shawn Wayans: I definitely think it’s challenging for African-Americans to get roles of substance in Hollywood still. That is one of the reasons why we choose to write the stuff that we do, because if we didn’t write then we wouldn’t have any roles either. So I think that one of the things that African-Americans getting into this business actually have to start thinking about is getting into the behind-the-scenes as well as just being actors. What kind of stuff do you feel people have to do to get into the behind-the-scenes world? Aside from going to school, what are some important steps that people can take?


Shawn Wayans: Well, a part of it is going to school and educating themselves in that area. The same way they would go to acting class, they would take writer’s and producer’s course and kind of see the business in a complete form. So that it’s not just trying to act, but knowing how to direct, write and produce so that you can do all of that. It’s a lot of work – don’t get me wrong it’s hard as hell. But it’s also hard as hell and frustrating trying to get a role that actually allows you to get off. When you guys write your movies and sketches, who do you bounce the material off of to see if it’s really funny or it really clicks?


Shawn Wayans: Each other. Over the years we’ve all developed a really good sense of humor and our skill set to the point where we know what’s gonna get a laugh and what isn’t. We’re out there in the comedy clubs every night getting out laughs. I know what’s gonna be funny and what’s not for the most part.  There’s always a few that hit and a few that miss, but for the most part you kinda know what’s gonna get a laugh. Do you guys feel you’re your own harshest critics?


Shawn Wayans: Yes we are. If we can get each other to laugh, then for the most part the audience is laughing. How do you guys go about picking projects to produce?


Shawn Wayans: People who we trust come to us with stuff and we’ll go yay or nay. If we go “yeah,” then we help them shape and develop it so that they are able to go off and execute that. Do you still DJ?


Shawn Wayans: I never DJ’d, [laughs] I was an actor on a sketch show [SW-1 on In Living Color]. I do standup comedy though. Right now as far as the landscape of television is concerned, is there anything you’d like to see more of?


Shawn Wayans: On TV? I don’t even watch TV anymore, there’s nothing for me on there. It’s like all reality shows now. I wanna see more original content and stuff that’s written. What upcoming projects do you have for next year?


Shawn Wayans: Right now me and my brothers are writing a couple of movies, one to [act] in and two to produce. One I can’t really speak on, the other one we’re taking the TV show The Munsters and making that into a feature film, but we’re not in it, we’re just writing and producing it. For TV we have a show that we sold to VH1, kind of in the vein of Entourage but set in the world of Hip-Hop.