Fresh off her work in Ready Player One, Emmy winning powerhouse Lena Waithe is ready to take on another role – this one as a mentor. Waithe, a writer on Master of None and creator of Showtime’s The Chi, will be participating in AT&T Hello Lab’s filmmaker mentoring program. The program is aimed at supporting the creative voices of those underrepresented by Hollywood.  Waithe will mentor alongside Academy Award and Emmy Award Winner Common, producer Shelby Stone, Emmy Award Winner Cary Fukunaga, director Taika Waititi, Creed actress Tessa Thompson, and Black Panther cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

The participants will consist of six filmmakers; five women and one man, who will debut their short films on the Hello Lab channel on AT&T’s DirecTV and DirecTV Now streaming service later this year.

The films will be 10-20 minutes in length, and while the mentees all have some experience in the entertainment industry, they are all new to directing. AT&T and the filmmakers together will put together a marketing plan based on genre of film and filmmakers background and social profile.

Waithe is mentoring filmmakers Sean Frank Johnson and Casallina Kisakye, who wrote the short film, Further Away. The story is about a black woman who is institutionalized in a psych ward meets God.

Waithe released a statement saying, “The only way change can happen is by helping to create it, and it’s exactly why I’ve invested in this mentorship program.”

In addition to the AT&T Hello Labs, Waithe has partnered with MACRO founder and CEO Charles D. King, The Black List’s Franklin Leonard, and Eva Longoria to launch The MACRO Episodic Lab Powered by The Black List, which will cater specifically to episodic storytellers of color.

Waithe is the creator and executive producer of Showtime’s breakout new drama series The Chi, which was renewed for a second season.  Last year, Waithe made history and became the first black woman to win an outstanding writing for a comedy series Emmy for the Thanksgiving episode of Netflix’s Master of  None.  This specific episode was based on her own personal experience, the episode chronicles her coming out to herself and her family, through the lens of the Thanksgiving holiday over three decades.  Recently she made a guest appearance on the NBC hit series This Is Us, and received a pilot green light by TBS to her upcoming single-camera comedy Twenties.  Waithe was recently seen on the big screen in the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One, and also made an appearance in the hit Netflix series Dear White People.



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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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