Actor and producer Marlon Wayans is currently being sued for racial discrimination and harassment by a man who claims Wayans’ treatment of him made it impossible to work as an actor. The man is seeking unspecific damages.
Pierre Daniel says that he was cast in a role for the film A Haunted House 2, the sequel to the original comedic film that spoofs the film genre of thrillers, such as The Devil Inside and the Paranormal Activity series. The second film was written and produced by Wayans himself, although he plays a lead role in both films. The lawsuit claims that in September of 2013, the 42-year-old New York native took to social media to share a side-by-side comparison picture of Daniel and the popular animated comedy character Cleveland Brown from FOX’s Family Guy. The picture was followed by a caption detailing his amusement at how he thought the two looked the same, along with two uses of the N-word to describe the actor he had cast in his film.
Although Wayans appeared to make the picture and comparison seem as though he felt the idea was comical rather than offensive, Daniel did not see it that way. He gave the statement that he feels as though the post was a form of cyber-bullying rather than a harmless joke. He feels as though the comment was racially motivated and targeted at his appearance, most specifically his hairstyle. The documents go on to state Daniel’s feelings that Wayans openly mocked him on set, going as far as to leer at him and roll his eyes whenever Daniel was around. The lawsuit does not give any specific time frame for when the alleged on-set harassment occurred.
Daniel says that the picture comparison in question caused him multiple forms of suffering; these are listed as pain, shock, discomfort and/or anxiety. He also says that, due to these afflictions, he has no longer been able to search for work as an actor. He is also suing the movie’s production company for the aforementioned damages.
Wayans is best known in his career for comedic roles, which began with the 1988 film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, which is a parody of blaxploitation films (blaxploitation being an ethnic subgenre of exploitation films). He built up an audience for this typecast, with leading roles in such highly reviewed films as Scary Movie, White Chicks, and Dance Flick. In the year 2000, however, the actor took a break from comedy to appear in the critically acclaimed psychological drama film Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky. Lead actress Ellen Burstyn, also known for her role in the 2006 adaptation of The Wicker Man, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. As well as appearing in the first two Scary Movie films, he also produced both films and helped write the script. His brother, Shawn Wayans, is also a well-known actor and producer and shared the aforementioned credits in the Scary Movie films.
Wayans recently came under public scrutiny for comments made surrounding the nature of late actor Robin Williams’ death. He made a public statement giving his view that depression was not what killed the actor, but rather the use of antidepressants. There was much outrage concerning this remark, as many thought it was incredibly disrespectful and in bad taste considering the actor had died by taking his own life. There is also no current evidence that he was even taking antidepressants before his death. Wayans was unapologetic, expressing his feelings that the opinion was something he was allowed to have.
The outcome of the lawsuit against Marlon Wayans remains to be seen. Neither the actor nor his representatives have yet given any statement surrounding the matter.
by Rebecca Grace