Wayne Brady, 51, is ready to start wheeling, dealing and entertaining audiences once again. As host of the popular CBS game show Let’s Make a Deal — which kicks off Season 15 on Sept. 25 — the multitalented performer showcases his improv, acting, dancing and singing skills. He shares his tips for staying quick on his feet, his next Broadway endeavor and why he’s finally ready to write his own story.
Who are some of your comic inspirations?
All my life, I have been a fan of Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, John Leguizamo. What they all have in common is they are brilliant actors who do whatever is required of them, because they have this vast skill set that can make you laugh, that can make you cry. They can do characters. They can be straight. They can make you feel something. Those are my influences without me realizing that I even had them as influences, because I’ve always loved them. In hindsight, Robin is probably one of the biggest influences in terms of someone who has done improvisation onstage — watching someone be able to move on a dime. Definitely Robin.
How are you so quick on your feet?
A bit of it is natural. It’s how your mind is wired sometimes. But it’s also the way that you live your life. I love to read. Some of the mental acuity comes from being curious. You should never lose your curiosity. Don’t be one of those people that just because you’ve lived past 50 [you think], I’ve seen it and I’ve done it, kid. No, no. Find other things that you haven’t seen that you haven’t done. Curiosity is going to be the thing that moves us forward.
Are your priorities changing as you age?
All the time. If nothing changes for you, then I think you’re doing something wrong. I’ve had a huge personal paradigm shift in terms of the things that make you happy. In fact, even doing this interview, I was freaking out because I’m like, Why am I doing an interview with AARP? That’s the mindset that a kid has when they think about age, because they’re like, Oh man, I remember when somebody who was 25 was old. Or then somebody who was 30 was old, and then holy crap, 51. The beautiful thing is my paradigm shift is, Wow, why am I being interviewed by AARP? Well, Wayne, you know why? Because you win. You win. You’re 51. You’ve won another year. You’ve won another year of experience. You’ve won another year of being on this planet. I truly embrace that now. I love the fact that I’m getting older, that I can.