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In a recent interview with BET.com, comedian/actor/show host Wayne Brady discussed the criticism he often receives for not being “black enough”, why he’d be a great as James Brown, and many more things.
The criticism about Brady’s “blackness” has been so steep that Dave Chappelle featured a sketch on the “Chappelle Show” that made a mockery of it. In the sketch, Chappelle is seen believing Brady to be a pushover, easy going, gullible guy. Brady redeems his respect by engaging in a plethora of criminal activity and later bringing Chappelle to tears. The sketch was obviously a satire, but it revealed the reality of African-Americans revering Brady’s brand as one that appeals to a majority Caucasian audience.
Read excerpts from Brady’s interview below. You can read the full interview here.
On why he believes his “blackness” is challenged:
No one can be harder on Black people than Black people. And I understand that, we like to claim what’s ours — we are a very loyal audience. We like to call people out when we feel they’re not being what we want them to be. I get that too. What irks me is when the person who says, “Oh, Wayne Brady isn’t Black enough for this role,” is the 26-year old white screenwriter. Then, when the creative people cast the “Blackest” dude for the role it perpetuates that idea. If we just said there are a million ways to be Black that would be amazing. Just think how much we could get done.
On how to be himself despite pressure to be something else:
I don’t live to please people anymore and that’s very hard in a subjective business where part of your job is to have fans. I’ve always been very true to who I am. I can’t make everybody happy. I’ll either be too white for the people who don’t watch the game show, I’ll be too Black for people who see my live improv shows or I won’t be manly enough for the dude who is a thug.
On why he’d be a great pick for the James Brown biopic:
I’ve never been told that. But I was asked to honor him on Dancing With the Stars. I did a James Brown tribute and that was so dope. His family was there and to have them say, “No one else could have done this like you,” made my day. Then years ago Spike Lee was going to direct the James Brown story along with Tom Cruise and they were going to produce it together. Wesley Snipes was supposed to play James Brown and I was Little Richard. We did a table reading and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of in my life. I always kind of hovered around the James Brown legacy. So if I were ever given the opportunity [to play James Brown] I would jump at the chance. I think I could knock that role out of the park.
Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.