Kim Coles is a staple of the 90’s black comedy scene. The hilarious lady was a breakout star on In Living Color before going on to star opposite Queen Latifah in Living Single. While on paper it looked like Coles was going from one win to the other, the truth is she was actually fired from In Living Color. Over the years she’s speculated on why she might have been axed from the sketch comedy show, and it has a lot to do with the Wayans trying to help their sister Kim Wayans get more shine.
In Living Color was an American sketch comedy series that originally aired on Fox from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994. Created by Keenen Ivory Wayans, he used it as a vehicle to showcase comedians with a little more “culture.” It helped introduce the world to such massive stars as Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Damon Wayans and Jennifer Lopez. It was a also a place for other Wayans to cut their teeth, with siblings Shawn and Marlon popping up in background roles and leading their skills to the writers room. Sister Kim Wayans was also a lead cast member opposite Kim Coles.
Cole sat down with ET during their series titled Leading Ladies of the ’90s, to give a full recap of her career. Coles was part of In Living Color’s original cast and was only there for one season. She recalled the audition process being “the most grueling” one she’d ever had. She said Keenen wanted people who could do stand-up, sketch comedy and writing. Despite the immensely talented group of people he was able to assemble, they show was not immediately picked up and they sold bootleg copies of the pilot in New York to generate buzz. Fox finally decided to give them a shot and the show took off.
They discussed the Wayans family dynamic on set. Coles recalls the siblings really looking out for each other, something that kind of alienated other cast members. “It was tight for some, not really tight for others” she said of the casts chemistry. Keenen was clearly looking to make his siblings stars and gave a lot of the work to sister Kim Wayans over Kim Coles. Because of this, Coles felt that a lot of her ideas were not acknowledged or encouraged.
She said that she was told to not come back to work one day by her agent, completely out of the blue. “I got a call saying don’t come to work Monday.” Coles said she eventually spoke to the Wayans family and got a “great apology and explanation.” She recalls Keenan telling her that he had to let her go, but he knew she’d be ok.
The actress reveals that she was heartbroken but felt it was a blessing in disguise. Her role on Living Single was one she felt truly fit her and her experience. Coles describes her time on it as nurturing and fostering. She also says that Living Single went on to make her more money and last longer, something she was grateful for.