Multiple Emmy Award winning actress, writer and comedienne Wanda Sykes was the first-ever African American and openly gay featured entertainer invited to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2009. Forever quick with a quip or two, Sykes came barreling out of the proverbial closet in 2008 while speaking at an LGBT conference in support of marriage equality in Las Vegas, NV. She surprised the attendees at the rally by boisterously sharing, “I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman and I’m proud to be gay.”
Sykes was born on March 7, 1964 in Portsmouth, VA and was later raised in Washington, D.C. by her military dad and banker mom. Sykes toyed with the idea of entering the Armed Services herself when she enrolled in the National Security Agency and served for five years before moving on to trying her hand at stand-up comedy in New York City. Her big break came when she was asked to open for Chris Rock at New York’s famed Caroline’s Comedy Club (she would later be signed to Chris Rock’s writing team when he created his very own television show called The Chris Rock Show).
Numerous television show and film guest starring appearances would follow including: Pootie Tang, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Wanda at Large, Tongue Untied, Premium Blend, Wanda Does It, Evan Almighty, The Wanda Sykes Show, and most recently, The New Adventures of Old Christine. In addition to film, television and stage appearances, Sykes published a book titled, “Yeah, I Said It” in September 2004 through the Atria publishing group. Her writing credits are furthered by her literary participation in the 74th Annual Academy Awards presentation.
Throwing herself into the tenacious fight for equality, Sykes joined musician Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour as a performer in 2008 and, in that same year, offered her face and likeness to a television ad for the group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network).
Sykes is married to longtime partner Alex and the two women share the same legal last name. Their twins, named Olivia Lou and Lucas Claude, were born on April 27, 2009.
* Photo of Wanda Sykes at 2010 GLAAD Media Awards by Greg Hernandez.