Kicking off her career as a standup comedian, Wanda Sykes later had TV audiences laughing for her roles and self-written materials in “The Chris Rock Show” (1997-2000), where she won an Emmy and three other Emmy nominations. Sykes, who in 2001 netted an American Comedy Award, strengthened her reputation as a gifted comedienne with her performance in the sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2001-2005, had the recurring turn of Wanda) and the self-created/produced “Wanda at Large” (2003, starred as Wanda Mildred Hawkins).
For silver screen viewers, Sykes may be famous for her scene-stealing portrayal of personal assistant Ruby in the romantic comedy Monster-in-Law (2005), in which she brought home a BET Comedy Award. The actress recently took part in several movies, such as the animated feature Barnyard (2006, voiced Bessy the Cow), the sequel Clerks II (2006, as the wife) and the new sitcom “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (show began in 2006, played Barb).
Off screen, the 70th comedian in Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time” authored “Yeah, I Said It” (2004), a collection of humorous observations on various topics. Sykes is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She was once married to a man five years younger than herself.
Childhood and Family:
Wanda Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 7, 1964, and grew up in the Maryland-Washington, DC area. She graduated with a B.S. degree in Marketing from Hampton University in Virginia.
Hooked on comedy, Wanda decided to go pro by joining the Coors Light Super talent Showcase in Washington, DC, in 1987, where she performed standup for the first time.
The comedienne was once credited as Wanda Sykes-Hall after marrying a man five years younger than her. In 1998, the marriage ended up in divorce.
Wanda at Large
Wanda Sykes made her entrance in show business as the guest comedian for VH1’s “Stand-Up Spotlight” (1988). It was ensued by her appearance in “HBO Comedy Showcase” (1995), which apparently introduced her to comedian Chris Rock.
Soon, Sykes was enlisted as a member of the writing staff and cast member of the popular HBO late night show “The Chris Rock Show” (1997-2000). For her brilliant writing contribution to the show, Sykes won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program and earned three other Emmy nominations for the same category.
While performing with Rock, she also wrote material for “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” talk show (1997-1998) and made her movie debut in the low budget comedy Tomorrow Night (1998), which was directed and written by one of “The Chris Rock Show” co-writers, Louis CK. She next played various characters in the TV special Best of Chris Rock (1999) before having a minor role as Chantal in the sequel Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000).
The recipient of the 2001 American Comedy award for Funniest Female Stand-Up Comic was also busy carrying out the recurring role of Wanda in the sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2001-2005, received two Image award nominations). Still in 2001, she took on various roles in the replacement sketch series “The Downer Channel” (2001, also wrote materials) and played Biggie Shorty in the motion picture Pootie Tang (2001).
Sykes, who wrote special material for The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002) and standup material for “Premium Blend” (2002-2003), starred as Wanda Mildred Hawkins in her self-created sitcom for FOX, “Wanda at Large” (2003, also produced). Before long, her hilarious performance earned three Teen Choice, a Golden Satellite and a BET Comedy award nomination. Within a year, she entertained TV audiences with another comedy series, “Wanda Does It” (2004), in which she served as the executive producer and actor.
Joining director Robert Luketic, Sykes presented a much-celebrated portrayal of Ruby, the long-suffering personal assistant, in the romantic comedy Monster-in-Law (2005) and took home a BET Comedy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film. The accomplishment brought the humorist several screen projects the next year, such as the animated movies Over the Hedge (2006, voiced Stella the Skunk) and Barnyard (2006, voiced Bessy the Cow). The same year, Sykes also appeared as the wife in the sequel Clerks II (2006), played Carla Dunkirk in the Uma Thurman-starring My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) and took the role of Barb in the newly aired sitcom “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (show began in 2006).
Sykes is set to have the supporting part of Rita in the sequel of Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty (2007), for director Tom Shadyac. She will also revive her animated character of Bessy in the upcoming TV series version of “Barnyard,” scheduled for release in 2007.
- BET Comedy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film, Monster-in-Law, 2005
- American Comedy: Funniest Female Stand-Up Comic, 2001
- Emmy: Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program, “The Chris Rock Show,” 1999