Also Credited As:Wanda Sykes Hall
About Wanda Sykes
Born in Portsmouth, VA on March 7, 1964 and raised in the Washington D.C. area, Sykes enjoyed the comfort of a middle-class home afforded by her Army colonel father, who was employed at the Pentagon, and her banker mother. She attended Arundel High School, where she discovered that she had a knack for bringing the funny, then like the sensible person she was, moved on to Hampton University to earn a bachelor's degree in marketing. Following her father into government service, Sykes took a job at the National Security Agency as a procurement officer and immediately became bored with the routine - one made more irritating because of the guilt she felt for having to frivolously spend taxpayers' money. In 1987, Sykes decided to make a change and performed a five-minute stand-up routine at a talent competition sponsored by Coors Light. Though she lost, Sykes killed that night, finally realizing her serious love of performing and making people laugh.
Sykes spent the next five years honing her whip-smart, cynical material and matter-of-fact delivery in D.C.-area clubs until she was confident enough to quit the NSA in 1992 - a move which her parents understandably found crazy. After moving to New York City, Sykes caught her first break opening for Chris Rock at Caroline's Comedy Club. The two worked well together, prompting Rock to hire Sykes as a writer and occasional performer for "The Chris Rock Show." Although the show did not make her a household name, Sykes did earn four Emmy nominations - including a 1999 win - along with her fellow writers, opening an untold number of doors. In 1998, she made her feature debut in Louis C.K.'s "Tomorrow Night," a dark comedy about a mean-spirited photo shop clerk (Chuck Sklar) and his bizarre relationship with an elderly woman (Martha Greenhouse).
After a small part in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" (2000), she reunited with Rock in two uninspired comedies, "Down to Earth" (2001) - a remake of "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" (1941) - and "Pootie Tang" (2001), a spin-off of the crime fighting, Ebonics-spewing pimp from "The Chris Rock Show." As her presence on screens both large and small became more frequent, Sykes began earning wider recognition, including a win for Outstanding Female Stand-Up at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards. Sykes then landed the hostess job on "Premium Blend" (1997-2006), a live comedy showcase on Comedy Central, for the 2002-03 season. In an unusual turn, she began doing correspondent bits on HBO's "Inside the NFL" (1977- ), a gig she landed after heckling executive producer Rick Bernstein at a wrap party. Bernstein wanted a humorous report on steroids and called in Sykes for the job. Though no team wanted a funny report on such a serious issue - they refused to talk to her - Sykes nonetheless developed a humorous segment that became a regular feature on the show, earning the comedienne Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2004.
Continuing to up her profile, Sykes made a multi-episode arc on "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC, 1995-2004) as a demanding efficiency expert who has crush on Carey. In 2001, Sykes made the first of several appearances on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), playing a caricature of herself in a hilarious episode where she accuses Larry of obsessing over her ass.
Sykes continued to work as a memorable supporting or guest performer when possible, but by 2003 she was a big enough star to receive headlining offers. Her first series, "Wanda at Large" (FOX, 2003-04), featured Sykes as a former stand-up comic hired as a correspondent for a political talk show - a premise loosely culled from her own life. Designed to highlight Sykes' acerbic, skeptical self, "Wanda at Large" managed to last only a brief time before being cancelled. Her next effort, "Wanda D s It" (Comedy Central, 2004), a fictionalized take on her own life similar to "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was even more short-lived, surviving a scant six episodes before getting chopped off at the knees.
Sykes was hesitant to return to regular television work after experiencing the headaches induced by networks - particularly Fox, which shuffled "Wanda at Large" around the schedule like an unwanted foster child. Though largely absent from the scene for much of 2004-05 - sans her usual stints on "Curb" and "Inside the NFL" - Sykes returned to the big screen with a long string of appearances, including voicing characters in two animated features, "Over the Hedge" (2006) as Stella the Skunk, and "Barnyard: The Original Party Animals" (2006) as Bessy the Cow. She then costarred in "Monster-In-Law" (2006), playing the wary secretary of a famous news sportscaster (Jane Fonda) who reluctantly helps sabotage the relationship between her boss' son (Michael Vartan) and his fiancée (Jennifer Lopez). Though the movie received generally scathing reviews, both Fonda and Sykes came out smelling like roses, having received the best notices of all involved - one critic going so far to say the only thing in this movie worthwhile was Sykes.
After visible supporting roles in "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006) and "Clerks 2" (2006), Sykes finally returned to television, landing a recurring role on "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 2006- ), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sykes then enjoyed a major comedic breakthrough with her first HBO special, "Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired" (2006), a stand-up performance in which she covered politics, gay marriage, race, abortion and other timely issues that was taped in Seattle during the spring of 2006. Meanwhile, the comic continued to liven up feature comedies, filming the big-budgeted "Evan Almighty" (2007), the follow-up to the Jim Carrey hit, "Bruce Almighty" (2003), while starring in her first comedy special, "Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired" (HBO, 2006). A few years later, she returned to the stage for her second comedy special, "Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me" (HBO, 2009), which featured more of her stand-up act. Both specials earned her Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
|David Hall. Married in 1991; divorced in 1998|
|Alex Sykes. Married on Oct. 25, 2008 in California, prior to the passage of Prop. 8|
|Olivia Lou Sykes. Born April 27, 2009; twin of Lucas; mothers are Wanda and Alex Sykes|
|Lucas Claude Sykes. Born April 27, 2009; twin of Olivia; mothers are Wanda and Alex Sykes|
|Hampton University, Hampton , Virginia|
|Guest starred on Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva"|
|Voiced the character of Chloe the Goose in the animated feature "Rio"|
|Starred in HBO comedy special "Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me"; earned an Emmy (2010) nomination for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special and Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Special|
|Hosted the short-lived talk program "The Wanda Sykes Show" (Fox)|
|Cast opposite Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty," a sequel to the 2003 comedy "Bruce Almighty"|
|Starred in first HBO Comedy Special titled "Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired"|
|Landed a recurring role on "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS); became a series regular in the second season|
|Cast as Jane Fonda's long-suffering personal assistant in the comedy "Monster-in-Law"|
|Penned a book of humorous observations on various topics titled Yeah, I Said It|
|Starred in her own short-lived Comedy Central show "Wanda Does It"|
|Appeared in the hour-long Comedy Central special "Tongue Untied"|
|Cast in her own Fox sitcom "Wanda at Large"|
|Voiced a recurring character named Gladys on Comedy Central's puppet show "Crank Yankers"|
|Played a recurring role on Larry David's HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm"|
|Was a regular on the NBC midseason replacement series "The Downer Channel"|
|Re-teamed with Rock in "Pootie Tang" (based on a sketch from Rock's show) and "Down to Earth"|
|Acted in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"|
|Made film debut in "Tomorrow Night"; directed by "The Chris Rock Show" co-writer Louis C.K.|
|Joined the writing staff and cast of the HBO series "The Chris Rock Show"|
|Began stand-up comedy career after entering a Washington, DC area talent competition|