- NAME: Wanda Sykes
- OCCUPATION: Comedian
- BIRTH DATE: March 07, 1964 (Age: 49)
- Did You Know?: Wanda Sykes was the first African-American woman and the first openly gay comedian to perform at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner.
- EDUCATION: Arundel High School, Hampton University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Portsmouth, Virginia
- ZODIAC SIGN: Pisces
Best Known For
Comedian Wanda Sykes became famous for her intelligent, sometimes political, stand-up comedy and television appearances on shows including The New Adventures of Old Christine.
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Born in Virginia in 1964, comedian and actress Wanda Sykes started out doing stand-up on the road. She went on to make numerous appearances on the big and small screens, and won Emmy nominations for her own stand-up special. In 2010, she brought her intelligent, political humor to the White House, becoming the first African-American woman, and first openly gay comedian, to perform at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.
"I love doing stand-up, because it gives me the freedom to say what I really want to say. I think that's why it's my favorite thing to do."
Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 7, 1964. She grew up in Gambrills, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. Her father, a colonel in the United States Army, worked at the Pentagon, while her mother was a banker; Sykes also has an older brother, Harry. Sykes enjoyed a comfortable middle-class childhood and attended Arundel High School. She went on to get a bachelor's degree in marketing from Hampton University in Virginia before moving on to a government job in the D.C. area. Her position as a procurement officer at the National Security Agency didn't particularly suit her.
As it turned out, Sykes was much better suited for the stage than for government bureaucracy. In 1987, she performed at the Coors Light Super Talent Showcase. She didn't win the contest but it didn't really matter; the audience loved her. More importantly, Sykes had found something that she loved. At 28, she was finally on the road to becoming one of the most recognizable comedians of our day—someone who presents the world as she sees it, with intelligence and likeability instead of abrasiveness.
The next big step in her life was a move to New York. After five years of playing comedy clubs in the D.C. area, Sykes was ready to quit her day job and make a life in comedy. In the Big Apple, Sykes got her big break when she met the popular comic Chris Rock. She opened for him at Caroline's Comedy Club, and soon joined The Chris Rock Show as a writer, sometimes also stepping into screen roles. Her writing team won a 1998 Emmy for the show, and earned three additional nominations.
From there, it was on to more visible parts in both the movies and television. Sykes first appeared in a feature film in 1998's Tomorrow Night; two years later, she won a role in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Her connections with Chris Rock led to her next two parts, in Down to Earth (2001) and Pootie Tang (2001). More recently, Sykes has appeared in My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), Clerks II (2006), Monster-in-Law (2006) and Evan Almighty (2007), while also voicing characters in the animated features Barnyard (2006) and Over the Hedge (2006).
Sykes has played recurring characters on several television shows, including The Drew Carey Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The New Adventures of Old Christine. She also did a humorous regular segment on Inside the NFL. When trying to make it on her own in a leading role, however, none of Sykes' projects has had much staying power. In 2003, she tried out a sitcom on Fox called Wanda at Large, which ran for two seasons.
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