Marlon Wayans recently sat down with fellow actor and New York native Kerry Washington to talk about his upbringing in the city that never sleeps. Marlon is part of a large family, and in this telling interview, he opens up about the perks and drawbacks of being raised with nine other siblings in a New York City Housing project. He also discusses how his mother and father were able to put a stop to their ever expanding family. Marlon was the youngest of 10. His parents are Howell Stouten Wayans (born 1936) and Elvira Alethia (1938-2020). The family was raised in Chelsea, NY, in the Fulton projects on 9th Avenue and W 16th Street.
The actor reveals to Kerry that they had a four-bedroom apartment with one and a half bathrooms. Marlon’s mother and father slept in separate rooms. According to Marlon, his mother claimed his father was too fertile, and she did not like the way his feet smelled, so they did not share a bedroom.
Marlon recalls fond memories of his time growing up, even though they did not have much. He claims his mother was “classy” and tried to maintain the house in a way that made them seem more well off than they were. He and his siblings shared bunk beds and always had adventures. According to the White Chicks actor, having ten other kids always meant that there was someone to play with and someone to lean on.
Having a large family came with drawbacks as well. According to Marlon, the family went through toilet paper so fast that they would often have to use the newspaper. He revealed they would also cut their toothpaste open to get every little bit of paste out and made their glasses out of the bottom of jelly jars. Marlon believes that having so many siblings came in particularly handy recently when his mother passed. He says having them all around makes it easier to cope knowing she left such a large legacy. Recently the actor did a show in Vegas and was able to fly out 25 of his nephews and nieces to come see him. His goal was the educate the new generation of Wayans on how they can contribute to the family legacy and to one another now that they are all young men and women.
Marlon takes particular pride in being the “linchpin” for his family. Kerry pointed out that his position in the family seems to be as the one that can communicate between generations. Marlon agrees, claining that because he is the youngest, it’s his job to be the bridge for his generation and that of his kids. His eldest nephew Craig Wayans is only three years younger than him and was raised with them in the house because Craig’s mother was on 16. Marlon and his siblings have often made jokes about how large their family is and how it impacted them. In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Marlon and his sibling’s joke that he was born “desperate” and fought hard for attention. Sister Kim jokes that Marlon looked crazy in all their childhood pictures. “See me! See me!” she joked.