- NAME: Wanda Sykes
- OCCUPATION: Comedian
- BIRTH DATE: March 07, 1964 (Age: 50)
- 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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Next up was Wanda Does It on Comedy Central, which was a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style fictionalized look at Sykes' life; only six episodes were made before the show was cancelled. Finally, The Wanda Sykes Show, a late night talk show, ran for only the 2009-10 season on Fox. Sykes says she prefers supporting roles, in which she gets to play a "variation" of herself: "There's times when I'm really shy, so these roles that I get to play,
they're how I would love to really be."
Although she's spent significant time on television, stand-up is still in Sykes' blood, and she doesn't intend to let it ever fall by the wayside. She performed her first HBO special, Wanda Sykes: Sick and Tired, in 2006. In 2009, Sykes released another stand-up special, I'ma Be Me. That one earned her Emmy nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
Even with all of her visible roles, Sykes has succeeded in staying highly protective of her family and personal life. She and her wife, Alex, have twins, Olivia and Lucas, but Sykes won't go so far as to give her wife's last name or even her job. This is Sykes' second marriage; she married record producer David Hall in 1991, just before her move to New York, and they remained married until 1998. Raised in a traditional, religious community, Sykes knew that she was gay, but felt compelled to live life as a straight woman. She experienced the end of her marriage to Hall as a "liberating moment" and began dating women.
Sykes had married Alex, who is French, during the brief period in which California allowed same-sex marriage; the couple held a small ceremony for close family and friends in Palm Springs. But after California's Proposition 8 passed in the November 2008 election, banning same-sex marriage, Sykes decided to lend her celebrity to the cause of marriage equality. After discussing it with her wife, Sykes came out in a speech at a rally in Las Vegas. Since then, Sykes has stayed involved in the political effort to restore same-sex marriage rights in California.
In May 2009 Sykes was selected to perform at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in the first year of Barack Obama's presidency. In addition to being the first African-American woman to fill the role, she was also the first openly gay person, either male or female. There seems to be in no danger of Sykes giving up her biting, personal style of comedy any time soon: "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," she said.
© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
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From the early comedy of Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to the contemporary routines of Steve Harvey, Mo'Nique, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, Craig Robinson, Maya Rudolph and Dave Chappelle, black comedians have often used their wit to become the voice and face of the African-American experience. These legendary comedians have also set a very high bar—not only for African Americans, but for all comics trying to make it in show business. Learn more about these famous jokesters, from their early days to their comic beginnings, to their side-splitting performances and more.
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