Debra Wilson Reveals Why She Quit Madd TV

by Jamila Lizet White

February 25, 2021

Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Debra Wilson is widely known for her impersonations of Whitney Houston and Oprah Winfrey, and her several characters like ‘Kappa Kappa sorority sister Hayden Brooks,’ as one of the original eight cast members of Mad TV. 

In a recent interview, Wilson revealed why she departed the sketch comedy series 18 years ago stating that although she had been part of the tenured cast, “people were coming in after me making more than me.”

(L-R) Michael McDonald, Mo Collins, Debra Wilson, Nicole Sulivan, Pat Kilbane, Phil LaMarr, Aries Spears, Alex Borstein and Will Sasso attend the party for 100th Episode of MADtv on October 29, 1999 at Hollywood Center Studios in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Once the 58-year-old realized that her white male counterparts who had joined the cast after her were making more money than she was, she asked to have a discussion in which she revealed to The Comedy Hype News Show hosts that “the answer essentially was no.”

Wilson goes on to detail that although she did not hit a glass ceiling with what she wanted to create on the Emmy-award winning show, when she was told that her talent had a monetary value that’s when she decided to leave.

“So I’d hit essentially what I wanted to do and what I wanted to create on that show did not hit a glass ceiling,” shared the New York native. “But when I was told that all of the things that you want to create and be on the show has a monetary value and we don’t value it as much as the new people coming in, that’s when I left.”

When asked if she knew just how much more the other stars were making, Wilson said that it was irrelevant to her because “it’s not about just dollars and cents.”

“It’s devaluing or what I felt was being devaluing of what I’m bringing to the table and can continue to bring to the table,” she added. “Because eighth season was not a matter of ‘well we need to negotiate Debra’s contract or we’re going to let her go’ or ‘you know what we’re not thinking about bringing her back’ because at that point when I started Mad TV up until season 8, name another black woman on the show.”

“I’ll stop you right there because you can’t. I was the only Black woman,” she exclaimed.

Making note that although they had changed the white male and female cast members along with the black male cast members, she was still the only original Black woman on the show. To Wilson, this showed that she was a value to the show as there were “no other Black woman that do what you do” but that didn’t match her compensation.

You can watch the full interview below:

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