Crowned one of America’s funniest comedians, Wanda Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on March 7, 1964. She is 56 years old today.
Sykes grew up in a middle class family in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, she landed a job at the National Security Agency, but working for the government was not her calling.
Sykes performed her first comedic stand-up performance in 1987 at the age of 28 and immediately fell in love with telling jokes. Sykes took her talents on the road, moving to New York City. Sykes met Chris Rock and the rest was history. She opened for him at Caroline's Comedy Club, and soon joined The Chris Rock Show as a writer. The writing team won an Emmy in 1998.
Then, Sykes tested her acting skills. She appeared in feature films such as Tomorrow Night and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Her connections with Chris Rock led to her next two parts, in Down to Earth (2001) and Pootie Tang (2001). Sykes played recurring characters on several television shows, including The Drew Carey Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Her witty puns and ability to poke fun at anything from race, politics and sex caught the nation’s attention. She landed her own show, The Wanda Sykes Show, a late night talk show, which ran from 2009 to 2010 on Fox.
One of her biggest accomplishments came in 2009 when she became the first Black woman to perform at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.
Happy birthday to the legendary Wanda Sykes.
(Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
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