Keenen Ivory Wayans, Sr. (born June 8, 1958) is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, and a member of the Wayans Family of entertainers. He first came to prominence as the host and co-creator of the 1990–1994 Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color. He has produced, directed and/or written a large number of films, starting with Hollywood Shuffle, which he co-wrote, in 1987. A majority of these films have included him and one or more of his brothers and sisters in the cast. One of these films, Scary Movie (2000), which Wayans directed, was the highest-grossing movie ever directed by an African American until it was surpassed by Tim Story’s Fantastic Four in 2005. From 1997 to 1998, he hosted the talk show The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show. Most recently, he was a judge for the eighth season of Last Comic Standing.
Wayans was born in New York City, son of Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager, and his wife Elvira Alethia (Green), a homemaker and social worker. His father was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. He grew up in Manhattan’s Fulton housing projects. Wayans attended Tuskegee University on an engineering scholarship. He entertained his friends at college with made-up stories about life in New York. One semester before graduation, he dropped out of school to focus on comedy.
During his first set performing at The Improv in New York, Wayans met Robert Townsend, who helped him learn about the comedy business. Wayans moved to Los Angeles in 1980, where he worked as an actor. He had a regular role as a soldier on a television series named “For Love and Honor”.