Long before Larry Wilmore came under the tutelage of Jon Stewart and eventually landed his own late-night panel, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, he was just another comedian trying to make it in the TV biz.
The 53-year-old host’s earliest gigs including writing for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sister, Sister, and the sketch comedy series, In Living Color. The latter featured a cast that included then unknowns, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Lopez as a dancing ‘Fly Girl’.
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“I had no clue. Absolutely not,” Wilmore tells The New York Times when asked if he could have imagined how big Lopez or Foxx would become. “There was no way to predict that.”
“Not only J. Lo; I would never have guessed Jamie Foxx would win an Oscar,” Wilmore adds, noting Foxx’s Academy Award win for Best Actor a decade after leaving the show. “Not from those days.”
The actors weren’t the only success stories. Wilmore himself went on to earn multiple Emmy nominations for his work on The PJs, the animated series he created, and a writing win for The Bernie Mac Show. The comedian has also written for The Office and is the executive producer of ABC’s Black-ish.
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Despite all that, Wilmore has only recently enjoyed success in front of the camera thanks to his corresponding gig on The Daily Show before landing his own late-night series. “Jon has been great. He has not only championed me but also John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, everybody that’s come through there,” he says of his former boss, who recently announced he was stepping down as host of satire news program.
The Nightly Show airs Mondays through Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.