Wanda Sykes is always about her business. The no-nonsense funnywoman just wrapped up her second season as a producer on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. The production company she co-founded, Push It Productions, is negotiating and developing original programming with BET, MTV and LOGO.
Also still selling out stadiums and arenas coast-to-coast, Sykes’ relaxed yet unapologetic take on politics, pop culture, relationships, family and sex keeps her audiences in stitches. The Emmy award-winner took a brief moment to share a few success tips for aspiring (and established) comedians and creatives in general.
“Luck is big, but the work is what makes you stay in the business,” says Sykes in her recognizable nasal voice slightly pointing her index finger in mid-air. “Work on your craft, take it seriously, continue to work hard, be passionate about it and don’t show your ass.”
A native of Portsmouth, VA, Sykes was pleased to be one of the honorees at this year’s National Action Network Triumph Awards. The former co-star on the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine and former host of the defunct late night series The Wanda Sykes Show is an outspoken advocate for human rights, coming out herself in 2008.
A former National Security Agency specialist, Sykes, an alumna of Hampton University, made history in 2009 when she became both the first African-American female and openly gay entertainer to attend and speak at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The GLAAD award honoree even drafted letters on PETA’s behalf to support anti-dog chaining legislation.
Receiving her award from the National Action Network, one of America’s forerunning modern civil rights organizations founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, gives her full body of work more significance. “The award means a lot,” says Sykes standing next to writer and director Patrik-Ian Polk. “It’s one thing to have love and to be accepted, but when it comes from your own people, it runs deep.”
Sykes, who developed another all-female comedy series, Herlarious, for the OWN Network, is extremely busy these days. She’s returning to lend her voice over talents to the upcoming Ice Age 5. She is excited about developing a multi-camera series for NBC with Last Comic Standing’s season eight winner Rod Man. The comedic actress was tightlipped though about some other cameo appearances she’s making, affirming shows “you may have heard of.”
Even though she’s the first lady of comedy, Sykes, who’s happily married with two children, believes that becoming comfortable with herself is what she’s really proud of most. She’s starred in her self-titled sitcom, Wanda at Large, and was cast in various roles for film and television but reiterates that self-love is her greatest achievement.
“My biggest triumph is that I was finally able to accept and love myself,” says Sykes gripping her transparent Triumph Award with both hand. “Once you do that, you can pretty much deal with anything. We’ve come a long way, folks!”
This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for the Burton Wire. He is also contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.