Shawn M. Wayans was born in New York City to Howell Wayans, a supermarket manager, and Elvira, a homemaker. The future star grew up in an apartment in Manhattan's Fulton housing project along with siblings and fellow entertainers Keenen, Damon, Kim, and Marlon. While attending New York's Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities, Wayans made his feature film debut with a minor role in "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" (1988), a film that his older brother Keenen wrote, directed and starred in. The film, a "blaxploitation mockumentary," also featured his brother Damon, as well as comedian Chris Rock and musician Isaac Hayes. A few years later, Keenen created the Fox comedy and variety series "In Living Color," for which he cast several of his siblings, including brothers Damon, Dwayne and Marlon, and sister Kim. Wayans began as the show's musical director, DJ SW-1, spinning music for the featured "Fly Girl" dancers. He was eventually promoted to series regular until his departure at the end of the show's third season.In 1995, Wayans teamed up with his brother Marlon for The WB sitcom "The Wayans Bros." The talented siblings played mischievous and romantically clueless brothers who share a New York apartment with their father (John Witherspoon). Their pairing also proved comedic gold on the big screen with "Don't Be A Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" (1996), a film that skewered coming-of-age "gangsta" movies that often portrayed life in poor, urban communities and starred hardcore rap artists. Wayans played the film's lead, a young man named Ashtray. The actor gave serious acting a try with a starring role in "New Blood" (1999), before reuniting with his brothers Keenen and Marlon for a series of successful movies that spoofed the horror genre. "Scary Movie" took on teen slasher flicks such as "Scream" (1996), while the sequel "Scary Movie 2" (2001) parodied the supernatural themes of films like "The Exorcist" (1973). In the blockbuster series, Wayans played Ray Wilkins, a high school football star who often harbored hidden homosexual feelings for his male friends.Proving that nothing was scarier than grown men dressed up as blonde socialites, Wayans and his brother starred in "White Chicks" (2004), playing FBI agents who disguise themselves as spoiled, Paris Hilton-inspired heiresses. Wayans teamed up with older brother Keenen and youngest sibling Marlon once more with the critically panned film "Little Man" (2006), where he played a baby. The audiences did not find the awkwardness of an adult man digitally made to appear like an infant very funny either, and the film flopped. With "White Chicks" and "Little Man" receiving less commercial and critical success as his previous efforts, Wayans took a short break from acting to raise a family with his wife, Ursula. After doing voice work for the Wayans-created, children's animated series "Thugaboo" (Nickelodeon, 2006), the actor returned to the big screen with 2009's "Dance Flick," a film he co-wrote and starred in as Baby Daddy. His nephew, Damon Wayans, Jr., played the lead in this spoof of teen dance movies like "Step Up" (2006).
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