Kim Wayans has enjoyed over 25 successful years in the film industry, and at the fabulous age of 50, she is still putting on a show.
This time, she is trading in her usual wacky comedy roles for a dramatic one in the new film “Pariah” (in theaters December 28th), in which she plays a religious mother to a teenage girl, (played by actress Adepero Oduye), who is struggling with her sexuality as a lesbian.
Although the transition was a huge challenge, Kim says she’s thankful. In an interview with ESSENCE.com, the comedienne shares her thoughts on what we can all learn from “Pariah,” her excitement for the return of “In Living Color,” and how she still manages to feel youthful at 50.
ESSENCE.com: Happy belated birthday! You recently turned 50 years old. Do you still feel youthful?
KIM WAYANS: Totally, I feel like I’m 16! The heart stays the same, the body changes but the spirit stays forever youthful. I’m so thankful and so blessed to be here. Life is a process of change, everything is changing: your relationship, your behind, everything is always in flux, so if you get attached to what you looked like at 20, then you’re in for a really rough ride. Just embrace the changes, take care of yourself and be happy and thankful.
ESSENCE.com: People still associate you with comedic roles, was it hard transitioning to a dramatic one?
WAYANS: It was difficult to get into a dark [dramatic] space for this role because you have to put yourself into that kind of emotional space. This character is so different from me, I really had to create her, I really had to keep combing the text and the script, it was like putting together a puzzle, asking the director questions about her background.
ESSENCE.com: What do you hope viewers take from “Pariah”?
WAYANS: I hope they take the message of tolerance; we just need to love and accept people as they are and not try to impose our value system them. I read the script and it just broke my heart, it’s so beautifully written. The fact that a mom could give up a child over something like this just broke my heart. You see it happen all the time, I just hope a movie like this can hold up a mirror to people who might be experiencing something like this and might be having a difficult time embracing their sexuality.
ESSENCE.com: The revival of “In Living Color” has new and old fans impatient! Will you be appearing on the show?
WAYANS: I don’t think so, unless Keenan asks me to do a guest appearance, but this is a fresh new cast, he’s re-booting it! But I am very excited, I think about all the funny things “In Living Color” could’ve been doing over the years, all the crazy things that have gone on in our society, there’s so much to poke fun at. I think it’s really great, it’s coming back at a really good time.
ESSENCE.com: You’ve always maintained your natural hair. Why are you happy to be nappy?
WAYANS: Natural hair is so liberating, you’re most beautiful when you’re not hiding. I’ve never had a perm; I used to have it straightened with a hot comb, back in my “A Different World” days. My mom never let us get perms — she said if you wanted to alter your hair like that, you can wait until you’re grown and you are out of this house!
Catch Kim Wayans in “Pariah,” opening in theaters nationwide on December 28th.