She was one of the break-out stars from the hit comedy series, In Living Color. Kim Wayans, the comedic sister of Keenan, Damon, Shawn, and Marlon, made us laugh with characters such as Benita Buttrell, L’il Magic, and Ceephus and Reesie.
She’s starred in Dance Flick, Don’t Be A Menace In South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood, and A Low Down Dirty Shame. But, in 2011, it was her dramatic performance in the film, Pariah, that got us talking again.
Now, Kim Wayans is taking her acting chops to the stage in the new play, Barbecue. Written by Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara and directed by Kent Gash, the play is about the family the O’Mallerys,’ who have gathered in their local park to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister Barbara, whose spiral of drugs and recklessness has forced her siblings to stage an open-air intervention. But, the event becomes raucous and unpredictable as familial stereotypes collide with hard realities, and racial politics slam up against the stories we tell—and maybe even believe—about who we were and who we become. Kent Gash directs this new play that proves family can be a bigger vice than any other addiction.
Photos courtesy: Joan Marcus
The play is currently playing in New York City at The Public Theater until November 1. Member tickets are available now, and single tickets, start at $50. Or, tickets can be accessed by calling (212) 967-7555, or by visiting their website: www.publictheater.org.
We were able to catch up with the funny actress and find out more about her character, and what she’s been up.
Bossip: What was is it about the script and the characters that drew you to the play, Barbecue?
Kim Wayans: I thought the script was brilliant and took me on a wild and unexpected ride. It also had a lot of interesting things to say about a host of important subjects and I found that very provocative.
Bossip: What is it about your character in Barbecue that resonates with you?
K.W.: Lillie Anne is a leader and chief organizer in her family. I hold a similar role in my family, so I related to that strongly.
Bossip: What influences, or inspirations, helped you to prepare for your character in Barbecue?
K.W.: Honestly, Lillie Anne was created based on the information and facts that were provided about her in Robert’s amazing play.
Bossip: What is it about the stage that you feel differs, or is the same, as television and film?
K.W.: The biggest difference is the live audience. That instant and direct connection is amazing to experience night after night. Also, in television and film you only have a few takes to get it right. With theater you have the opportunity to grow deeper and richer with each performance.
Bossip: You had a break-out performance in the film, Pariah. As audiences are inclined to think of you as a comedic actress, based on your earlier comedic work in film and television, this dramatic role solidified your range as an actress. Do you plan or wish to do more dramatic roles? Do you feel more comfortable and at home in comedic roles? Who inspires you, and where do you get your inspiration for the various roles you play as an actress?
K.W.: PARIAH was a tremendous experience for me. I’ll be forever grateful to Dee Rees, the writer and director, for taking a chance and trusting me with the role of Audrey. I really love doing it all – drama and comedy. I feel equally comfortable with both, and hope that more dramatic opportunities come my way. Depending upon the role, my inspiration comes from various sources. Sometimes it comes from people I’ve met along the way, or a family member, and then other times I just create a character based on what’s in the text I’m giving. It really depends. Another source of inspiration is fabulous actresses whose work I admire.
Bossip: Were you always a comedian? Have you ever thought of, or ventured into the stand-up arena?
K.W.: I’ve always gotten a kick out of making people laugh since I was a kid. Actually, when I first started out in the business, it was as a stand-up comedian. I did stand-up for a couple of years before I started booking gigs on television and in film. While I really enjoyed being on stage with my mic and an audience to express myself, I didn’t like having to be out late at night hanging out in clubs, nor did I enjoy living out of a suitcase on the road, so I stopped doing stand-up many years ago.
Bossip: You have a huge fan-base, and many people know you from your break-out sketches on In Living Color. Which character would you say was your favorite to play, and have you thought about reviving any of the characters from the show?
K.W.: I had two favorite characters: Benita Buttrell (the gossip lady) and L’il Magic (the desperate child actress). I loved doing those characters. I do think about reviving some of my characters every now and then. Maybe I’ll do another one-woman show and incorporate them in there. Who knows.
Bossip: What can your fans look forward to in the future from you?
K.W.: I’m always writing and developing stuff I’d like to do. Currently, I’m developing a one-camera comedy based on my one-woman show A HANDSOME WOMAN RETREATS. Now, if I could just sell it, I’d be in business!