Although Larry Wilmore first blipped on most people’s radar as a correspondent on The Daily Show and host of The Nightly Show, his career stretches well back into the early ’90s as a writer, producer, and showrunner for iconic series like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sister Sister, and The Bernie Mac Show. It was actually a somewhat lackluster stint as a standup comic that propelled Wilmore into his spinning-plates act that he’s kept up ever since.
“At a certain point, I realized I had to take control of my career. I was a black comic that did political humor, and Hollywood didn’t view a black comic like that as something that was marketable,” Wilmore said during a live episode of Fast Company‘s podcast Creative Conversation at the magazine’s fourth-annual Innovation Festival. “I felt that I needed to be able to craft my own path. And I was really inspired by things Spike Lee was doing at the time [and] Keenen Ivory Wayans. And I used that as a model to create a space for myself.”
At this point in his career, Wilmore is focused on helping the next generation blaze their own trails. He helped Issa Rae develop Insecure from its humble origins as a web series, and he’s executive producing the upcoming CBS comedy Quinta & Jermaine with young actors Quinta Brunson and Jermaine Fowler.
“Sometimes it’s not so hard to break in,” Wilmore said. “The harder part is having a career that lasts.”
In this live episode, Wilmore explains what he’s looking for in young, up-and-coming creators, comedy’s role in politics, and how he fought through one especially sticky bout of writer’s block and wound up with an Emmy.
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