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5 businesses owned by Marlon Wayans

The business side of Marlon Wayans: Exploring his ventures in entertainment and beyond

by Adenike Adeodun

Marlon Lamont Wayans, born July 23, 1972, is a distinguished American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. His films have collectively amassed over $736 million in the domestic box office and exceeded $1 billion globally. As a stand-up comedian, Wayans enjoys widespread popularity, consistently selling out shows across the United States and frequently adding additional performances due to high demand.

Born in New York City to Elvira Alethia (Green), a homemaker and social worker, and Howell Stouten Wayans, a supermarket manager, Marlon is the youngest of ten siblings. His family includes notable figures such as Nadia, Shawn, Keenen Ivory, Damon, Dwayne, and Kim Wayans. Raised in the Fulton Houses, a housing project in NYC, he attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts—immortalized in the movie “Fame.” Marlon’s introduction to screen acting came before graduating from high school, with a role in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (1988), directed by his brother Keenen Ivory Wayan.

After completing high school, Wayans pursued higher education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while also appearing in films like “Mo’ Money” (1992), written by his brother Damon, and “Above the Rim” (1994). Concurrently, he contributed as a performer and writer to the sketch comedy series “In Living Color” (1990–1994), created by Keenen Ivory Wayans. Wayans dropped out of Howard University after two years.

Initially considered for the role of Robin in “Batman Returns” (1992), he was later signed for the same role in “Batman Forever” (1995) to star alongside Billy Dee Williams. However, a directorial change led to the recasting of both roles, with Wayans receiving compensation despite not appearing in the film.

Wayans and Shawn Wayans co-created “The Wayans Bros.” (1995–1999) and co-wrote “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” (1996). He also took on a significant dramatic role in “Requiem for a Dream” (2000), showcasing his range as an actor. That same year, he returned to comedy with “Scary Movie” (2000) and its sequel, which he co-wrote and starred in alongside Shawn.

His filmography includes roles in “The 6th Man” (1997), “Norbit” (2007), “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009), “The Heat” (2013), “A Haunted House” series, “Naked” (2017), “Fifty Shades of Black” (2016), “Sextuplets” (2019), and “On the Rocks” (2020). Marlon co-founded What the Funny, an online platform for urban comedy, and launched “Funniest Wins” on TBS in 2014. He also toured the U.S. with his brothers in “The Wayans Brothers Tour” and starred in the NBC sitcom “Marlon” (2017–2018). His first-ever stand-up comedy special, “Woke-ish,” premiered on Netflix in 2018.

“Sextuplets” (2019), a Netflix movie, features Wayans in the lead role as Alan, embarking on a journey to find his birth mother and discovering he is one of six siblings—all portrayed by Wayans. In August 2021, DC Entertainment began publishing “Batman ’89,” a comic book adaptation using Wayans’s likeness for the character Robin, now named Drake Winston, with his permission.

Wayans has built an empire that extends far beyond movie sets. His entrepreneurial journey is proof of his relentless spirit and business acumen. Here, we delve into five of his successful business ventures.

  1. Wayans Brothers Entertainment

Wayans Bros. Entertainment is a production company associated with the Wayans family, Marlon Wayans and his brothers; Keenen Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, and Shawn Wayans, among others. This dynamic production company has been at the forefront of delivering groundbreaking content, infused with the family’s signature blend of satire, parody, and pointed social commentary.

Central to its acclaim, Wayans Bros. Entertainment birthed the iconic “Scary Movie” franchise, a series that redefined genre parody and solidified the company’s influence within the industry. Beyond this blockbuster success, the company has been instrumental in producing a variety of celebrated projects. “White Chicks” (2004) saw Shawn and Marlon Wayans in a daring comedic twist as FBI agents undercover as white women, while “Little Man” (2006) featured Marlon Wayans in an unforgettable role as a pint-sized thief, showcasing the company’s creative versatility and fearless approach to comedy.

Through Wayans Bros. Entertainment, the Wayans family has left an indelible mark on the entertainment landscape. Their adeptness in writing, directing, and performing has not only entertained global audiences but has also enriched the industry with a distinct and enduring comedic legacy.

  1. Marlon Wayans Youtube Channel

In 2018, Wayans took a significant step towards digital expansion by launching his YouTube channel in collaboration with Shots Studios. This venture aimed to deliver weekly doses of laughter through sketch-comedy videos, leveraging Wayans’ established comedic talents while introducing his humor to the YouTube sphere. By aligning with Shots Studios, Wayans joined ranks with other prominent digital influencers like Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Hannah Stocking, and Anwar Jibawi, thereby broadening his reach and bringing his unique comedic style to a new audience online. This channel reflects his strategic effort to engage with audiences in innovative and captivating ways, utilizing the digital platform to showcase his distinct brand of comedy.

When the channel was unveiled, Wayans shared his excitement, remarking, “I’m thrilled to launch my YouTube channel. Partnering with Shots Studios—an entity known for its exceptional work and extraordinary talent—is truly exciting. I eagerly anticipate bringing my unique comedic style to the YouTube space.” This declaration underscores his eagerness to delve into fresh creative paths and engage with a broader audience digitally.

John Shahidi, co-founder of Shots Studios, shared his admiration for Wayans’ work, saying, “I’ve always loved Marlon’s work. He’s created a lot of movies that make you laugh just as hard your tenth time watching them as it did when you first saw them.” This comment underscores the lasting impact and appeal of Wayans’ comedic creations, which have entertained audiences time and again. Since the launch of the channel, it has amassed over 260,000 subscribers.

  1. Runa

Marlon Wayans, along with prominent figures such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Rodriguez, and professional athletes John Isner and Steve Johnson, has invested in Runa, a startup based in Brooklyn known for its innovative organic teas and energy drinks. Established in 2009 by Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie, two students from Brown University, Runa was born out of a transformative trip to the Amazon rainforest that left the founders inspired and determined to share the unique energy source they discovered there with the world.

The founders’ journey led them back to Ecuador, where they embarked on creating the world’s first supply chain for Guayusa, a native Amazonian tree leaf. Guayusa is celebrated for its clean energy properties, distinct from traditional teas and energy drinks, offering a blend of caffeine, antioxidants, and amino acids that promote a balanced energy boost without the adverse effects often associated with other caffeinated products.

In a strategic move to widen its market reach, Runa shifted its focus solely to energy drinks in Jan. 2018, honing in on the growing demand for healthier, more natural alternatives to conventional energy beverages. This pivot caught the attention of All Market Inc. (AMI), the company behind the popular Vita Coco coconut water brand, leading to Runa’s acquisition in June 2018. However, despite the promising trajectory and the backing of high-profile investors, Runa’s journey took an unexpected turn. All Market Inc. has announced that they won’t continue with the production of Runa products.

  1. What The Funny

What The Funny served as an urban comedy digital media company. It was established by Wayans alongside Randy Adams, co-founder of Funny or Die in 2013. The studio made its home on the premises of Sunset Gower Studios. It formed partnerships with notable personalities such as Todrick Hall, a former American Idol contestant turned YouTube sensation, and Trae tha Truth, a rapper from Houston.

  1. Real Estate

In 2016, Wayans sold his longtime residence in Sherman Oaks for $1.5 million. This two-story Mediterranean-style home, constructed in 2005, boasted open-plan living areas, marble and hardwood flooring, and French doors leading to a backyard with a swimming pool and spa.

Fast forward to 2022, Wayans made a significant purchase in the San Fernando Valley, acquiring a stunning home for $5.3 million. Initially listed at $5,395,000 in November 2021, Wayans managed to get a modest discount on the property, a notable feat given the competitive Los Angeles-area real estate market known for its frequent bidding wars that can push prices above the listed rates. The home, a complete demolition and reconstruction, was previously bought for $1.6 million in October 2020. The rebuild was finished in 2021, resulting in one of the most exquisite homes north of Ventura Boulevard.

The property, located in the prestigious Amestoy Estates in Encino, is celebrated for its comprehensive range of features and amenities. Carol Wolfe from Rodeo Realty described it as embodying everything one could desire or require in a home. JoAnne McKenzie of Sotheby’s International Realty represented Wayans in the transaction.

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