Edwards's stand-up comedy career took off after a six-year stint in the US Army Reserves. He began to get both live action and voice roles, leading to a successful audition on Saturday Night Live. He didn't have any recurring characters on the show but did develop a number of impressions, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Michael Jackson, and Billy Ocean. After his second season on the show, he and the more established Tracy Morgan, the only two African-American cast members, both left. The next season would see the debuts of Finesse Mitchell and Kenan Thompson.
Since leaving SNL, Edwards has voiced Donkey in two Shrek films, replacing Eddie Murphy. He also voiced the character in a video game around the time of his start on SNL. Other projects have included the films A New Wave—co-starring with John Krasinski and Lacey Chabert—and Chris Rock's Top Five.
Dean Edwards appearances:
- 2003 Marci X: Audience Member
- 2004 Tony And Tinas Wedding: Father Mark
- 2006 A New Wave: Rupert
- 2007 Universal Remote: Serious Black Man
- 2007 Spider-Man 3: Newsstand Patron
- 2008 Goyband: Ty
- 2010 Aprils Fools: Now Later
- 2014 Top Five: Himself
- 1996 Melrose Place: Process Server (1 episode)
- 2001-03 Saturday Night Live: Various/self
- 2004 The Sopranos: Charles (1 episode)
- 2014 Deadbeat: Gucci Man (1 episode)
- 1998 Celebrity Deathmatch: Scottie Pippen/Spike Lee (2 episodes)
- 2006 Where My Dogs At: Various Celebrities (6 episodes)
- 2010 Scared Shrekless: Donkey
- Same role in 2011 short Thriller Night. Previously voiced it in video game Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown.
- 2011 Robotomy: Robot (1 episode)
- 2019-20 Our Cartoon President: Sen. Cory Booker and others.