How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (2024)

The Wayans family is an American show business family that has been delighting audiences for generations. Originally coming to prominence in the late 1980s, today’s members are comprised of a diverse group of comedians, actors and actresses, comedy writers, and script doctors.

Chaunté Wayans — whose mother, Elvira, wasn’t as prominent in the entertainment industry as the rest of the Wayans family — is best known for appearing on MTV’s “Wild N’Out.” Meanwhile, Damon Wayans Jr. — whose father, Damon Wayans Sr., was a groundbreaking comedian — has had starring roles on such mainstream shows as “New Girl.”

But none of their careers would be possible without the groundbreaking work of the original five: Keenan Ivory, Damon, Kim, Marlon, and Shawn. The actual family, though, consists of ten siblings — helmed by Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager, and his homemaker late wife, Elvira — but only five of them are in the entertainment industry today.

Keenan Ivory Wayans is at the core of this legacy: he was the first to venture into show business and subsequently built an empire for his siblings — and future generations — to build upon. According to Cheatsheet, Keenan Ivory Wayans’ hard work created a lasting empire that has grossed more than $1 billion at the box office and has created an overall net worth of more than $300 million for the family empire.

Let’s take a look at how the originators set the groundwork for the Wayans family of today.

Editorial note: The net worths listed in this piece are speculative estimates drawn from a variety of online sources.

Keenan Ivory Wayans

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (1)

Net Worth: $65 Million

The eldest of the Wayans family in show business (though Keenan is the second child of the Wayans family, overall; the family’s oldest son, Dwayne, is a film and television composer), Keenan Ivory Wayans set the tone for the rest of the family. After a chance meeting with Robert Townsend, Wayans was the first to break through into the mainstream with the 1987 film, “Hollywood Shuffle.” From there, he got funding for his cult comedy classic, “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” which was released in 1988. Wayans’s growing popularity drew the attention of the then-fledgling Fox Network, and they approached him to star in his own comedy show. The end result was the now-legendary, and groundbreaking, comedy sketch show known as “In Living Color,” which ran from 1990 until 1994. Though “In Living Color” would only last for four years, it created a lasting impact on the pop culture zeitgeist that’s still felt to this day, and cemented the Wayans family’s place in the entertainment industry. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Keenan Ivory Wayans has a net worth of $65 million.

Damon Wayans

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (2)

Net Worth: $35 Million

Damon Wayans has made most of his money from his successful acting, writing, directing and comedy career, which began in the early 1980s. His first role was in the classic Eddie Murphy film, “Beverly Hills Cop.” However, he really came into his own when “In Living Color” debuted on the then-fledgling Fox network.

Additionally, Wayans Sr. also has some of his net worth tied into real estate. In 2005, he paid $3 million for a condo in Santa Monica, CA. According toVariety,he listed the condo for rent in 2018 — at a $20,000 per month asking price.

As AfroTech previously reported, he has a net worth of $35 million.

Kim Wayans

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (3)

Net Worth: $8 Million

Though not as popular as her brothers, Kim Wayans has still made waves in the comedy industry. But before starring on “In Living Color” with the rest of her family, Kim Wayans had starring roles in “A Different World” and the Vietnam-era drama “China Beach.” These days, she makes her money behind the scenes, specifically as the author of the successful children’s book series, “Amy Hodgepodge.” According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kim Wayans has a net worth of $8 million.

Shawn Wayans

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (4)

Net Worth: $30 Million

Like the rest of his family, Shawn Wayans got his start on the comedy series “In Living Color” — but he was known as a DJ, who went by the name SW-1. Often seen alongside his brother and comedy partner, Marlon, Shawn Wayans has made a successful career with shows like “The Wayans Brothers” and films like “White Chicks.” According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shawn Wayans has a net worth of $30 million.

Marlon Wayans

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (5)

Net Worth: $40 Million

The youngest member of the Wayans family, Marlon Wayans’ presence wasn’t as prominent on “In Living Color” as the rest of his siblings (He was too young, at the time — he was only 18-years-old when “In Living Color” debuted). However, thanks to teaming up with his older brother, Shawn, Marlon Wayans made his own way in the entertainment industry. In addition to his success with “The Wayans Brothers” and “White Chicks,” Marlon Wayans has appeared in “Scary Movie,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “Dungeons and Dragons,” and more. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he has a net worth of $40 million.

Bernadette Giacomazzo

Bernadette Giacomazzo is the SEO Manager at Blavity, Inc. She is also a NYC-based editor, writer, photographer, and publicist with a career spanning more than two decades in the entertainment industry. Her work has been featured in People, Teen Vogue, BET, HipHopDX, XXL Magazine, The Source, Vibe, The Los Angeles Times, and more. Giacomazzo is also the author of The Uprising Series and is the CEO of G-Force Marketing & Publicity, which has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter and has obtained film, television, radio, and print placements for blue-chip clients all over the world. She will release "In Living Color: A Cultural History" on Rowman & Littlefield Press in February 2023, and "The Golden Girls: A Cultural History" on Rowman & Littlefield Press in August 2023.

See more materials by Bernadette

As an entertainment industry expert with a deep understanding of the Wayans family legacy, I can provide valuable insights into the concepts discussed in the article. My expertise stems from a comprehensive knowledge of the family's history, contributions to show business, and the impact they've had on the entertainment industry.

The Wayans family, a prominent American show business dynasty, has been captivating audiences since the late 1980s. The article focuses on the original five members—Keenan Ivory, Damon, Kim, Marlon, and Shawn—whose groundbreaking work paved the way for the family's success.

Keenan Ivory Wayans, the eldest of the siblings in show business, played a pivotal role in establishing the family's entertainment legacy. His journey began with the 1987 film "Hollywood Shuffle," followed by the cult comedy classic "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" in 1988. Keenan's popularity led to the creation of the legendary comedy sketch show "In Living Color," which ran from 1990 to 1994. The article cites Keenan Ivory Wayans' net worth at $65 million, showcasing his significant impact on the family's financial success.

Damon Wayans, following in his brother's footsteps, achieved success through acting, writing, directing, and comedy. His breakthrough came with "In Living Color," and his diverse career contributed to a net worth of $35 million, including investments in real estate.

Kim Wayans, though not as widely recognized as her brothers, made notable contributions to the comedy industry. Before "In Living Color," she had starring roles in "A Different World" and "China Beach." Kim transitioned to behind-the-scenes work, becoming the author of the successful children's book series "Amy Hodgepodge," with a net worth of $8 million.

Shawn Wayans, known as SW-1 during his "In Living Color" days, built a successful career alongside his brother Marlon. His net worth is estimated at $30 million, and he achieved success with shows like "The Wayans Brothers" and films like "White Chicks."

Marlon Wayans, the youngest member of the family, made his mark in the entertainment industry with notable projects such as "The Wayans Brothers" and "White Chicks." Despite his youth during the "In Living Color" era, Marlon's collaboration with Shawn contributed to his net worth of $40 million.

The article concludes with information about the author, Bernadette Giacomazzo, highlighting her role as the SEO Manager at Blavity, Inc., and her extensive career in the entertainment industry. Additionally, it mentions her upcoming releases, "In Living Color: A Cultural History" and "The Golden Girls: A Cultural History," showcasing her expertise in cultural analyses.

In summary, the Wayans family's enduring legacy in the entertainment industry, from Keenan Ivory's groundbreaking work to the diverse accomplishments of each sibling, is a testament to their collective impact on show business.

How The Wayans Family Went From 'In Living Color' To A $300M Empire - AfroTech (2024)

FAQs

Who is the richest of the Wayans? ›

Marlon Wayans – $15 Million. Shawn Wayans – $30 Million. Damon Wayans – $35 Million. Keenan Ivory Wayans – $65 Million.

How did the Wayans family get into show business? ›

Of four actor/producer/comedian brothers, the eldest, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and his groundbreaking television show In Living Color got his siblings a start in show business. Damon has appeared on Saturday Night Live and a number of other television shows while maintaining a successful stand-up comedy career.

Why did In Living Color get canceled? ›

The show was immensely popular in its first two seasons, capturing more than a 10-point Nielsen rating; in the third and fourth seasons, ratings faltered as the Wayans brothers fell out with the Fox network's leadership over creative control and rights.

How much does Marlon Wayans make? ›

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Marlon is worth a staggering $40 million, which is a direct reflection of his accomplishments as an actor and entrepreneur. Marlon became famous after he appeared as a cast member in the sketch comedy series In Living Color in the early 1990s with his siblings.

How much money does the Wayans family have? ›

According to Cheatsheet, Keenan Ivory Wayans' hard work created a lasting empire that has grossed more than $1 billion at the box office and has created an overall net worth of more than $300 million for the family empire. Let's take a look at how the originators set the groundwork for the Wayans family of today.

What does Michael Wayans do for a living? ›

He is an actor, known for Blankman (1994), Dance Flick (2009) and My Wife and Kids (2000).

Do all the Wayans brothers get along? ›

Shawn and Marlon Wayans are so close that they named their sons after each other. “We promised each other when we were little kids that if we had sons, we would name them after each other,” Wayans said. All of the Wayans brothers work together.

Who is Marlon Wayans married to now? ›

Is Damon Wayans married now? ›

Are Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans friends? ›

Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey quickly became buddies on the set of the 1988 film Earth Girls are Easy. These two funny friends also went on to co-star on In Living Color.

Why did Jennifer Lopez leave In Living Color? ›

Hollywood Starlet - Lopez quit In Living Color to pursue acting in 1993 and began receiving low-profile supporting roles (Money Train, Blood and Wine, Jack).

When did Jim Carrey leave In Living Color? ›

From 1990 to 1994, Carrey was a regular cast member of the ensemble comedy television series In Living Color. While the series was short-lived, its popularity helped him to land his first few major film roles.

What religion is Marlon Wayans? ›

His family were Jehovah's Witnesses.

How many times has Marlon Wayans been married? ›

Marlon Wayans doesn't have a wife, and he has never been married. This comes as a surprise to many people who assumed that he was married to his long-time girlfriend, Angela Zachary. In an interview with Essence in 2021, the actor stated that he never married because he knew his mother needed him.

How much is Kim Wayans? ›

She has carved a unique niche in the entertainment industry. Her dynamic career, spanning acting, comedy, and writing, emphasizes her versatile talent and enduring appeal. According to Net Worth Post, by 2024, Wayans has accumulated a net worth of $8 million.

Who is Marlon Wayans current wife? ›

How many brothers does Damon Wayans have? ›

He has five sisters—Elvira, Vonnie, Nadia, Kim and Diedra—and four brothers—Keenen, Marlon, Shawn and Dwayne.

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