Pretty much. I think they've all taken classes, but I went to a performing arts high school. I'm theatrically trained.
Why do you think you're the only one who had the interest to get that training so early on?
You know, I think it was just me looking ahead of the curve. My brothers did what they had to do in terms of doing comedy—that was the means to their end. I had a little bit more time to understand and go, "You know what? I want to add this performing arts high school to my repertoire because it will help me as a performer. That way, if I choose to do stand-up like my brothers, it will help me excel at a more rapid pace because of the skill-set I'll have as an actor-performer." I knew that having that in my back pocket was going to help me all around.
Don't get me wrong—Damon is a really strong dramatic actor. My sister Kim rocked this movie she did called Pariah. Keenen has done a lot of action-comedy, which requires you to really play your moments well. Shawn, even, did a movie called True Blood where he showcased his acting. We all can act—I just went a little deeper into my studies. I guess it's a cheat because I'm younger.
When you were writing A Haunted House with Rick Alvarez, was it liberating to know that you could get all of your jokes and ideas in? As opposed to the past scripts written alongside you brothers, where it must've been more competitive to get your own ideas into the finished products.
At the end of the day, when we do our projects together, somebody has to be the decision maker, and that's going to be [Keenen] Ivory. We all collectively pitch thousands of jokes, and it's ultimately Ivory's decision. We let him do it because that's what he does and what he's great at, but on this one, I got to be the Ivory. I got to be the guy making the decisions. Mike [Tiddes, the director] and Rick were my counsel. We worked together as a committee, but, ultimately, somebody has to make a decision, and that was me this time.
Did you speak to Ivory for any specific advice when assuming that role for A Haunted House?
I always go to Ivory for advice. He's the Godfather, so you're a fool if you don't go to him and ask for his opinions. Whenever I have any problems, Ivory gives me his opinions and oftentimes I apply them. Now I may not listen to everything, but I listen to whatever works for me in that time and in that situation. For this project, he schooled me on the value of pre-production, and making sure that you hire the right team.
Continuing your new Ivory role, you're also the executive producer of the new BET series Second Generation Wayans, starring your nephews Craig Wayans and Damien Dante Wayans and showing their struggles trying to make it in Hollywood.
Yeah, it's basically their rise to fame and a look at how hard it is for them to make in the shadow of their uncles. It's a really good, scripted show.
The thing is, for me as the exec producer, I allow them to do their vision. It's their vision of themselves, and it's a different complexion of the Wayans humor, so I invite it. It's not that same in-your-face style that I have—theirs is more laid-back in the cut, and they've got some really funny stuff in there.
I'd imagine that you can relate to the element of trying to succeed in family members' shadows, being the youngest in your family.
Absolutely. It was hard for me and Shawn to step out of the shadows of Keenen, Damon, and Kim. And now, for my nephews, it's even harder for them. Shawn and I were Tito and Jackie, and my nephews are Tito's sons. [Laughs.]
It's interesting how everything comes full circle, and now you're in the Keenen Ivory role after 20 years.
But the thing is, I'll never really be in the Ivory role. Ivory is always going to be the Godfather. I just hope Fredo makes him proud.
So A Haunted House isn't the start of a full-blown solo Marlon phase?
No, man. This is New Edition—Bobby isn't smoking crack. [Laughs.] We're family. We're always going to keep doing stuff together. I'm thinking about the next thing already for us. I miss working with Ivory and Shawn. We make a lot of really great music together, so I'll never stop doing that, man. But I will always go off and do my own thing, too. As a grown-ass man, I'm able to do that. When the fingers get stronger, so does the fist.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)