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Stars That Died

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who is Wanda Sykes?

Who is Wanda Sykes? The entertainment and acting world knows her as an American writer, stand-up comedian and actress. She earned the 1999 Emmy Award for her writing on The Chris Rock Show. In 2004 Entertainment Weekly named her as one of the 25 funniest people in America.[2]
She is well known for her role as Barb on The New Adventures of Old Christine and for her appearances on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. In November 2009 The Wanda Sykes Show, her own late-night talkshow, premiered on Fox, airing Saturday nights.[3][4][5] Sykes is openly lesbian, and has two children with her wife, Alex.[1]

Early life

Sykes was born March 7, 1964  in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised in the Washington, D.C., area. Her father served as a US Army colonel employed at the Pentagon, and her mother worked as a banker. She attended Arundel High School[6] in Gambrills, Maryland, and went on to graduate from Hampton University[6] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing. After college, her first job was as a procurement officer with the National Security Agency (NSA),[6][7] where she worked for five years.[8]


Not completely satisfied with her role with the NSA, Sykes began her stand-up career at a Coors Light Super Talent Showcase in Washington, DC, where she performed for the first time in front of a live audience in 1987.[8][9] She continued to hone her talents at local venues while at the NSA until 1992, when she moved to New York City.[8] Her first big break came when opening for Chris Rock at Caroline's Comedy Club.[8] In 1997, she joined the writing team on The Chris Rock Show and also made many appearances on the show.[9] The writing team was nominated for four Emmys, and in 1999, won for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. Since that time, she has appeared in such films as Pootie Tang and on TV shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2003, she starred in her own short-lived Fox network sitcom, Wanda at Large. The same year, Sykes appeared in an hour-long Comedy Central special, Tongue Untied. That network also ranked her #70 on its list of the 100 greatest all-time stand ups. She served as a correspondent for HBO's Inside the NFL, hosted Comedy Central's popular show Premium Blend, and voiced a recurring character named Gladys on Comedy Central's puppet show Crank Yankers. She also had a short-lived show on Comedy Central called Wanda Does It.
In addition to her film and television work, she is also an author. She wrote Yeah, I Said It, a book of humorous observations on various topics, published in September 2004.

In 2006, she landed a recurring role on the sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine; she became a series regular in the second season. She also guest starred in the Will & Grace episode "Buy, Buy Baby" in 2006. She provided voices for the 2006 films Over the Hedge, Barnyard, and Brother Bear 2. She had a part in My Super Ex-Girlfriend and after playing in Evan Almighty, had a bit part in License to Wed. Sykes' first HBO Comedy Special, entitled Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired, premiered on October 14, 2006; it was nominated for a 2007 Emmy Award.[10] In 2008, she performed as part of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour for LGBT rights.
In October 2008, Wanda Sykes appeared in a television ad for the Think Before You Speak Campaign, an advertising campaign by GLSEN aimed at curbing homophobic slang in youth communities. In the 30-second spot, she uses humor to scold a teenager for saying "that's so gay" when he really means "that is so bad."[11][12]
In March 2009, it was announced that Sykes would be the host of a new late-night talk show on Saturdays on Fox, The Wanda Sykes Show which was scheduled to premiere November 7, 2009.[13][14] In April 2009, she was named in Out magazine's Annual Power 50 List, landing at number 35.[15]

In May 2009, Sykes was the featured entertainer for the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, becoming both the first African American woman and the first openly LGBT person to get the role. Cedric the Entertainer had been the first African American to become the featured entertainer in 2005. At this event, Sykes made controversial headlines as she responded to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh's comments regarding President Barack Obama. Limbaugh, in reference to Obama's presidential agenda, had said "I hope he fails". In response, Sykes quipped: "I hope his [Limbaugh's] kidneys fail."[16]
Sykes' third comedy special, Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me premiered on HBO in October 2009.[14] November 2009 saw the premier of The Wanda Sykes Show, which starts with a monologue and continues with a panel discussion in a similar format to Bill Maher's shows Real Time with Bill Maher and Politically Incorrect.
Sykes will be appearing as Miss Hannigan in a professional theatre production of "Annie" at The Media Theatre in Media, PA, a suburb 25 minutes southwest of Philadelphia. Sykes will be appearing from November 23-December 12, 2010, and again from January 12-23, 2011. This will be Sykes' first appearance in a musical.[14]


Sykes was nominated for three Primetime Emmys and in 1999 won the Emmy for "Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special." In 2001, she won the American Comedy Award for "Outstanding Female Stand Up Comic". She won three more Emmys, in 2002, 2004 and 2005 , for her work on “Inside the NFL” for “Outstanding Studio Show - Weekly- Inside The NFL" followed by a Comedy Central Commie Award for "Funniest TV Actress in 2003."[17]
Wanda Sykes officially came out of the closet on Saturday November 15, 2008. The Comedienne revealed that she married her long-time partner Alex Sykes shortly before the passage of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in the state of California.


Year Film Role Notes
1998 Tomorrow Night

2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Chantal
2001 Down to Earth Wanda
Pootie Tang Biggie Shorty
2005 Monster-in-Law Ruby
2006 The Adventures of Brer Rabbit Sister Moon Direct-to-video
Over the Hedge Stella Voice
Clerks II Angry Customer
My Super Ex-Girlfriend Carla Dunkirk
Barnyard Bessy the Cow Voice
Brother Bear 2 Innoko Direct-to-video
CondomNation Linda
Hammy's Boomerang Adventure Stella Direct-to-video short film (from the Over the Hedge DVD)
2007 Evan Almighty Rita
License to Wed Nurse Borman uncredited
2011 The Muppets[18][19] Herself Cameo
Rio Flora


Year Title Role Notes
1997–2000 The Chris Rock Show Various Characters 7 episodes
1999 Best of the Chris Rock Show TV special
2001 The Downer Channel Various First 2 episodes
The Drew Carey Show Christine Watson Episode: "Eat Drink Drew Woman"
Episode: "Mr. Laffoon's Wild Ride"
Episode: " Drew and the King"
2001–2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm Wanda Episode: "Thor"
Episode: "The Massage"
Episode: "The Benadryl Brownie"
Episode: "The Terrorist Attack"
Episode: "Krazee-Eyez Killa"
Episode: "The Surrogate"
Episode: "The Bowtie"
Episode: "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister"
2002, 2003 Crank Yankers Gladys/Wanda/Gladys Murphy 3 episodes
2003 MTV: Reloaded The Oracle TV film
Wanda at Large Wanda Mildred Hawkins All episodes
Chappelle's Show Herself Episode: "The Best of Chappelle's Show: Volume 2 Mixtape"
MADtv Season 9 episode 903
2006 Will & Grace Cricket Episode: "Buy, Buy Baby"
2006–2010 The New Adventures of Old Christine Barbara 'Barb' Daran 42 episodes
2007–2010 Back at the Barnyard Bessy the Cow 45 episodes
2009 Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me[14] Stand-up HBO comedy special
2009 The Wanda Sykes Show Herself; also creator, and writer Talk show


Year Title Role Notes
1997-98 The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show Writer 11 episodes
1997-00 The Chris Rock Show Writer Wrote 33 episodes
Co-produced 14 episodes
1998 Comedy Central Presents Herself and writer (as Wanda Sykes-Hall) Episode: "Wanda Sykes-Hall"
2001 Best of the Chris Rock Show: Volume 2 Writer TV special
The Downer Channel Writer Wrote the first 2 episodes
2002 The 74th Annual Academy Awards Special material written by Award show
2002-03 Premium Blend Writer 4 episodes/Stand-up
2003 Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied Writer Documentary
Wanda at Large Creator, writer and producer 19 episodes
2004 Wanda Does It Creator, writer and executive producer Episode: "Wanda Does Repo"
Episode: "Wanda Does Vegas"
Episode: "Wanda Does the Sky"
Episode: "Wanda Does the Night"
Episode: "Wanda Does the WNBA"
Episode: "Wanda Does Photos"
2006 Wanda Sykes: Sick and Tired Writer Stand-up
2009 Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me[14] Writer Stand-up


Year Title Label
2007 Sick & Tired[20] Image Entertainment


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