Who is Damien Dante Wayans?
Damien Dante Wayans is a popular American actor, screen writer, producer and director of African origin. It is not an exaggeration to say that art and performance runs in his blood, as he belongs to the Wayans family who, for two generations, have been in the field of acting. In fact, a majority of his body of work either by way of acting, script writing, directing or producing has been in projects that involved his uncle, Damon Wayans Sr., prominent examples of which include the movie, ‘Major Payne’ and sitcom, ‘My Wife and Kids’. He made his movie debut at the age of seven, where he got to rub shoulders with the best and brightest African American artists of that time. While he did get his share of recognition being in the spotlight, he received a lot more success working behind the scenes. He has, to his credit, more than a dozen projects (both film and TV shows) where he was either the director, writer and/or producer.
Early Life & Family
Damien Dante Wayans was born on April 29, 1980 in New York City, New York. His mother, Elvira Wayans is sister of the famous first generation of ‘Wayans family’ of movie and TV artists, that consists of Damon, Keenen, Shawn, Kim and Marlon Wayans.
He has one sister, Chaunté Wayans, who is also an actress, and two cousins, namely Michael Wayans and Damon Wayans Jr. who too are in the showbusiness.
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Damien Dante Wayans’ acting career began in 1987 with the concert-film, ‘Eddie Murphy Raw’ when he was just seven-years old. The movie was a comedy drama in which he played the sketch of child running in the house.
With cast members like Samuel L. Jackson, Tatyana Ali and Eddie Murphy himself, ‘Eddie Murphy Raw’ became a runaway success and went on to make upwards of $50 million in box-office collection.
In 1991, he got the chance to play his part in the American variety show, ‘In Living Color’. Produced by his uncle, Keenan Ivory Wayans, the series was thematically similar to ‘Saturday Night Live’ but it had an African-American cast and took a lot more chances with its content.
Damien appeared in the 1995 comedy flick, ‘Major Payne’, which was directed by Nick Castle, and written by his uncle, Damon Wayans who was also the main lead. Bearing a loose likeness to the 1955 war movie, ‘The Private War of Major Benson’, Major Payne’s cast also included the likes of Steven Martini, Michael Ironside and Karyn Parsons, and raked in roughly $30 million in the box-office.
Between 1996 and 2000, Damien featured in several TV series such as ‘New York Undercover’, ‘413 Hope St.’ (where he played himself), ‘The Norm Show’ and ‘NYPD Blue’. In this period, he also acted in two made-for-TV movies, namely ‘Passing Glory’ (1999) and ‘Freedom Song’ (2000). While the former was a basketball drama film, the latter is a biographical drama chronicling true events from the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.
As Writer, Producer & Director
Until 2002, Damien Dante Wayans’ major involvement as an actor in movies and TV shows had mostly been limited to bit part roles. However, all that changed with the 2003 comedy flick ‘Malibu’s Most Wanted’.
Starring Jamie Kennedy (who also wrote the script!), the movie’s cast included the likes of Regina Hall, Damien Dante Wayans, Blair Underwood, Kal Penn, Snoop Dogg and many others. ‘Malibu’s Most Wanted’, through parody, attempted to explore the concepts such as cultural exploitation and pressures to act in line with certain cultural expectations.
Around that time (2002-2005), Damien began flexing his creative prowess behind the camera when he took up the responsibility of writing, directing and producing for the hit ABC sitcom, ‘My Wife and Kids’, and even turned producer for the series (2004-2005). He wrote nine episodes for the series, directed 18 episodes and produced a total of 26 episodes.
Damien’s other projects as a writer, director and producer include ‘The Last Meal’ (2004), and ‘Dance Flick’ (2009). His acting career too was on a roll, and he has acted in ‘Edison’ in 2005 (6) and ‘Man About Town’ , ‘Little Man’ and ‘House M.D.’ in 2006; multiple roles as guest actor for contestants on ‘Internet Icon’ (2012), and 2013 action-comedy TV series, ‘Second Generation Wayans’
Personal Life & Rumors
Damien Dante Wayans has successfully managed to keep his personal life away from the prying eyes of the public. While his status remains unmarried, he was in a four-year relationship with a mysterious woman. Not only has he never revealed the identity of his ex-girlfriend, he also never presented any clarifications after the two separated. This obviously got the rumor mills buzzing, and certain sources even pointed towards Damian’s sexual orientation being a reason behind the break-up.