WATCH: Lena Waithe Shares her Experience Pitching ‘The Chi’ to “Non-Black” Execs

There’s no denying that the Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe is a force to be reckoned with, and her star power is quickly on the rise with her recent current hit Showtime series The Chi, her role in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, her appearance in Dear White People, and her upcoming TBS pilot Twenties.  To add to her list of ground breaking accomplishments, Waithe also graced the cover of the April 2018 issue of Vanity Fair.

Recently, Waithe took a seat at the table at the roundtable for The Hollywood Reporter where she shared her experiences sitting down to pitch black stories in a room filled with “non-black” executives.  When asked a question about a previous quote that she made, “the hardest thing about being a black writer is having to pitch your black story in white executives,” Waithe shared,  “Usually it’s predominately white execs or the poor black exec who is a token that they bring into the room….Or whoever they can find in the office to say ‘come on we have a black person in the office, we got to look good.'”  She continues, that black exec can either be a friend or a foe.  They don’t want to come off as ‘oh I’m only vying for the black show.’  They don’t want to be the “black exec.”  Also, if their experience is different from yours….they will go ‘well that wasn’t my experience.'”

Waithe continued, “Going in to pitch is hard period.  But what I think people don’t realize when you are someone who is “other” that you are sitting with people, and that’s not their experience….If you have something that is phenomenal, and they can kind of relate and get it, they will do it, but often times, there’s a level of not understanding, and not being able to relate.”

“That’s why I tell people when you are “other,” you better come in there with something so phenomenal, and so amazing that even though it’s from a world that isn’t ‘theirs, there’s something about it that they can connect to.  It has to be the universal law where it’s about a person who’s trying to survive or trying to live, and even if those people don’t look like them or come from the same walk of life, they can still say ‘I get it.'”

Check out the entire clip above!



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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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