From ''In Living Color'' to black-and-white ideology in a Dee Rees' heart-wrenching indie

By Dave Karger
December 30, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Fans of the early-’90s sketch-comedy show In Living Color may be surprised to learn that the woman who so memorably lampooned Tracy Chapman and Oprah Winfrey two decades ago is now taking on one of the year’s most dramatic roles. In the Sundance hit Pariah, Kim Wayans gives a startling performance as the disapproving mother of a lesbian teen. ”As I got into my 30s, I started thinking about wanting to do drama and knowing that I had it in me,” Wayans says. ”But I was denied the opportunity because I got typecast.” Wayans’ manager had to fight even to get his client in a room with director Dee Rees for an audition. Now the 50-year-old actress hopes that Pariah — which earned Rees the Breakthrough Director prize at the Gotham Independent Film Awards — will broaden her career options as well. ”I don’t want to give up comedy to do drama. I want to be like Robin Williams and Barbra Streisand and move through both worlds.” Her dramatic side, she says, ”was just laying there, waiting to hatch. Hey, that could be the name of my autobiography: Waiting to Hatch!”