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Why Ted White From Respect Looks So Familiar

"Respect" is the new Aretha Franklin biopic that set the Internet on fire earlier this year when it dropped its first trailer. Starring Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul, and directed by Liesl Tommy, the film tells the story of Aretha Franklin's life, beginning with her childhood as a singer in her minister father's (Forrest Whitaker) choir, continuing with her rise to fame, and then delving into Franklin's work in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

One of the more controversial parts of the film is the storyline about Franklin's abusive first marriage. The role of Franklin's first husband, Ted White, is also a dramatic one for the actor who plays him, Marlon Wayans, who's normally known for his comedic roles — he is a member of the legendary Wayans family, after all. But it's also not the first time that Wayans has appeared in a drama, either. Here's where you might have seen him before.

Marlon Wayans got his big break on In Living Color

Born in 1972, Marlon Wayans is the youngest of 10 Wayans siblings. Many of Marlon's older siblings, including brothers Keenen, Damon Sr., and Shawn, and sister Kim, pursued careers in show business, and Marlon followed in their footsteps. In 1992, he decided to leave college to take a role as a featured player in the cast of "In Living Color," the seminal sketch comedy show created and produced by Keenen and Damon Sr. (via Biography). "In Living Color" ran on Fox for five seasons from 1990 to 1994 and helped launch not just the Wayans family's careers, but also those of performers like Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, and Jennifer Lopez. 

Marlon's breakout role was Mr. Ugly Man, which was a parody of the 1991 reggae hit "Mr. Loverman" by Shabba Ranks. He spent one season on "In Living Color," which ended in 1994 after five seasons.

His next big project was the sitcom The Wayans Brothers

The success of "In Living Color" led to the classic sitcom "The Wayans Bros.," which Marlon Wayans co-created and co-starred in along with his brother Shawn. The show was about a fictional version of the real-life brothers, who were living in an apartment on Harlem's 117th Street and working at a newsstand. "The Wayans Bros." ran on the WB for five seasons, from, 1995 to 1999, airing 101 episodes. 

During this period, Wayans continued appearing in movies, with roles in films like "The 6th Man" and "Senseless." In 1995, he was supposed to play Robin in Joel Schumacher's 1995 film "Batman Forever" – he had been cast in the role in Tim Burton's 1992 movie "Batman Returns," but the part was written out so it could be saved for the next movie. He was then replaced by Chris O'Donnell. However, he was still paid $100,000 for the film (via Cinema Blend). 

His film career took off with Scary Movie

After "The Wayans Bros." made Marlon Wayans a star, his film career took off with "Scary Movie," the 2000 parody of horror movies like "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Wayans co-wrote and co-starred in the film, along with his brother Shawn. With a budget of just $19 million, "Scary Movie" grossed $278 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). That led to four "Scary Movie" sequels, the last of which premiered in 2013, although Marlon only starred in the franchise's first and second films.

Wayans went on to star in several more movies that were directed by his brother Keenan, including "White Chicks" and "Little Man." In 2009, he starred in both "Dance Flick," a dance movie parody directed by his nephew Damien, as well as the blockbuster "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," in which he played Ripcord. 

In the 2010s, Marlon Wayans' career branched into many directions

Marlon Wayans continued starring in high-grossing comedy films in the 2010s, like 2016's "Fifty Shades of Black," which he also co-wrote and co-produced. In 2017, he returned to his roots when he starred in the NBC sitcom "Marlon," which was loosely based on his real-life experiences as a co-parent with his ex-wife. He also has a standup special, "Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is," which airs on August 19, 2021 (via Deadline).

In addition to his comedy career, Wayans also continues to take on dramatic roles. This wasn't new for his career. He had previously starred in the 2000 drama "Requiem for a Dream" and the 2004 Coen brothers dramedy "The Ladykillers." But his performance as Ted White, abusive husband of Aretha Franklin, is one of the most complicated in his career to date. 

"Respect" premieres in theaters on August 13, 2021.