Comedian and actor Marlon Wayans uses laughter to connect with his family—both his real-life one and the TV version on his new family-friendly sitcom.
As the father of two teenagers and the youngest of 10 siblings, actor and comedian Marlon Wayans knows a thing or two about finding the humor in life, especially when it comes to family. So the star of Scary Movie, White Chicks, and "The Wayans Bros." is bringing that funny perspective to his newly announced family-friendly TV show "Marlon," set to premiere this fall on NBC. What does he want parents to know? That it's OK to relax and, most importantly, laugh.
Parents.com: Your new sitcom "Marlon" is a bit different from your previous TV shows and movies. Why did you decide to create a family-friendly show?
Marlon Wayans: I wanted to talk about the truth of my life as a dad. It's a family show but I'm a different kind of TV dad, and it's a different kind of TV family. I give my kids off-the-wall advice that other parents might not give—I keep it real—and that's the fun of the show. In my household, I'm the biggest kid. In the show, my ex-wife and I are shown as really good friends. So many families in this country are divorced, so we're asking how you raise a family when you're separated. Other shows feature divorced parents who hate each other, and that's not always the case. You can have a family that works together, because at the end of the day, family is all you have.
Were any scenes inspired by something that happened in your own life?
MW: One episode is about my TV daughter getting bullied, which happened to my actual daughter in real life. I told her she had to fight, but that's when Mom stepped in. I compromised and said you don't have to fight, but you do have to act tough. The whole episode is about bullying and explaining how sometimes it's fine to stick up for yourself and say something rather than just walk away.
How has your career as a comedian shaped you as a parent?
MW: Being a comedian allows me to have a lot of flexibility in who I am. My kids always see me with a smile, and I've always got a funny solution to problems. I'm pretty entertaining—a little inappropriate—but that's what make me, me! I'm a lot of fun as a father and embarrassingly loving. I don't have those moments where I'm stressed out. If you put an image into your kids' minds that you're perfect, they're going to grow up and see your imperfections. I want my kids to see me as a human being and understand my acceptance and love.
Happy Mother's Day Ang, what can I say besides everything! How awesome of a human being are you? I'm blessed. You're a constant reminder that God loves me. To have you as the mother of my children is an honor. The simple way you conduct yourself... Like a lady. Respect yourself as a woman. Your quiet strength. The things you instill in our children with your everyday practice of being you. Representing yourself and them and in turn me. I'm a hot mess thank God for you. True balance, the structure, the focus on academics. Getting up everyday and taking them babies to school, running errands, taking their lil ass to games, practices, plays, tutoring... Nigga I see you! You're an incredible mother but more importantly an incredible human being. You're an amazing person and I'm blessed to share my greatest gifts from God with you. Thank you for your unconditional love for them but especially me, lord knows I need it. I appreciate you and love you. Best choice I ever made was having children with you. Through the ups and downs we remain friends and family. We are bonded and forever in the blood. You're a true example of a WOMAN. That's beautiful for my daughter to see and my son to understand. Love you always... This mess of a nigga ME happy mommy day
What's your biggest parenting fail?
MW: I don't know yet. I don't think you know that you failed until you see your kids go through something difficult as an adult. The journey of life makes everybody different, and there is no bad within that journey. As parents, you have to allow yourself some space to alleviate guilt. As long as you love your kids and have the best intentions for them, that's all that matters.
How do you use humor to get through those tough parenting moments?
MW: I've only had two unhappy days my entire life, because I always try to find the funny in every situation. If you can smile your way through a difficult moment and find a new perspective it'll be hard to get stressed. There's always something funny. You just have to look at life and find something to smile about.
You're the youngest of 10 siblings. What's the best and worst parenting advice your brothers and sisters have ever given you?
MW: We don't give each other advice as parents; we just give each other love and acceptance. We allow each other to raise our kids how we want, then we jokingly compare and see who was really right. Sometimes we mentor each others' kids. When kids hear something from their dad they might ignore it, but when they hear the same thing from their uncle they actually hold onto that advice.
What have you learned as the parent of two teenagers?
MW: Sometimes you have to back off and give them advice as a friend rather than a parent. They might talk about things that upset you, but you need to learn to step away, love them unconditionally, accept them for who they are, and really listen to what they have to say.