“If you can’t embrace your past, you can’t fix your future,” he continues. “Instead of looking back on any part of our past and hating it, we should embrace it and go: that’s who we were; here’s where we are today; now where do we want to go? I think it’s a disrespect to all those guys who we call minstrels and coons and queens – it’s disrespectful to their legacy…I don’t think they’re coons and buffoons, they’re pioneers; and that should be what they are perceived as. They did what they could do in their time the best they could.”
Furthermore, in terms of his colleague Tyler Perry, an entertainment mogul who has followed in the Wayans family path towards film and television monarchy, Wayans believes a lot of similar criticism has been misdirected. In fact, he considers Perry an innovator, one who may have initially shadowed the Wayans’ trail, but who blazed a larger one in the process.
“I also feel like he’s opened a door for us,” Wayans observes. “It’s good to have these different people of color, your peers, in some capacity outshining you because then you look and go – ‘Oh! That’s the way.’ Tyler has a great business model, and so he’s a pioneer in his own right. He’s actually inspired us.”
Wayans comments that his admiration for Perry’s work even extends to the Madea franchise.
“I don’t agree with if you put on a dress, that’s coon-ism or whatever,” says Wayans. “There’s no vanity in comedy. I put on a dress; I’ll shrink myself down to size; I don’t give a f***. If it’s funny, I don’t care. Don’t tell me what’s funny because you don’t dare to have the balls to go be funny. So, let me do what I need to do to evoke laughter.”
Wayans’ only critique for Perry is that perhaps he should take more time to nurture his craft. Fewer films, richer content, and a trademark that remains consistent. It’s something the Wayans family has managed to accomplish in their many decades navigating comedy, and something they continually strive for today. No holds barred, truthfulness, all-inclusivity – that’s their take on humor. Even with a new generation of sons, daughters, nephews, and cousins joining the ranks, their passion and penchant for funny remains unequivocally entrenched.
And while A Haunted House has granted Wayans new tools to volley, he says he has no ambitions to direct films anytime soon, maybe in ten years or so. He’d rather wait, as Wayans take careful steps to achieve great heights.
“We’re all at a new beginning,” he notes. “We rode away for while, had a certain amount of success as a band, now we’re a bunch of strong individuals…By everybody going on and doing their things individually, what’s going to happen is when we come back together, it’s going to be like a really strong fist. But we will definitely come back together.”
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter at @courtgarcia