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If a female version of Martin Lawrence floated about the comedy world, Gabrielle Dennis says it’d be her for sure. Regarding her journey to becoming an award-winning comedian, Dennis spoke to ABC Audio about a few people who inspired her earlier years, including the comedy king.

“I thought I was Martin Lawrence growing up,” the 40-year-old actress said. “I could know all of his characters to recite. I could recite some ‘Jerome in the house’ right now. I just love, love Martin.”

On a personal level, Dennis said her sense of humor comes from her father, who often cracked her up when she was a child.

“He is — class clown,” she said. “I mean, they’re dad jokes now, but like, back in the day, he was funny.”

Characters played by Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans on the iconic ’90s show, In Living Color, helped motivate Dennis to pursue comedy professionally. And although most of her earlier auditions were for roles of characters that were “always sad” or “depressive” — an assumption connected to Dennis’ identity as a Black woman — she went on to star in hit TV shows like BET’s The Game and in major films like, Girls Trip and A Madea Homecoming.

Special shout-out to the inspiring women in Dennis’ life: her mom, who jokes her daughter has “always been a ham,” In Living Color cast member Kim Wayans, with whom Dennis recently reunited on her latest comedy gig and A Black Lady Sketch Show, and that show’s creator, Robin Thede.

Expressing gratitude to Thede for personally inviting her to join the Emmy-winning sketch series, Dennis said, “Having known Robin for so many years and her hitting me up because she remembers me from back when I used to do stand-up comedy…it’s such a testimonial of never giving up on your dreams.”

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