Lena Waithe’s star power is on the rise with her recent current hit Showtime series The Chi, her recent Emmy win, her upcoming role in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and her upcoming TBS pilot Twenties.  To add to her list of ground breaking accomplishments, Waithe graced the cover of the April 2018 issue of Vanity Fair, and shared her views with acclaimed writer Jacqueline Woodson on the black creative community, the importance of mentorship, and the impact that she hopes to make on the culture through her work.

“Here’s the irony of it all. I don’t need an Emmy to tell me to go to work,” she declares.  “I’ve been writing, I’ve been developing, I’ve been putting pieces together and I’m bullets, you know what I’m saying?”

Waithe made history by becoming the first black woman to receive an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for her and Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series, Masters of None, an award that has only pushed Waithe to achieve a level of greatness that most people can only dream about.

“I am tired of white folks telling my stories. We gotta tell our s**t,” she shared. “Can’t no one tell a black story, particularly a queer story, the way I can, because I see the God in us.”

In addition to sharing the need to tell our own stories, Waithe recognizes the shift that is taking place in the entertainment industry regarding Hollywood’s recognition of the importance of inclusive story-telling from diverse voices.

“It’s a symbolic moment when Issa Rae’s poster is bigger than Sarah Jessica Parker’s. Now the hands that used to pick the cotton can pick the next box office.”

The Chi creator also discussed black women writers, such as Yvette Lee Bowser, Mara Brock Akil, and Susan Fales-Hill, who paved the way for her to have the opportunities that she has now.

“They didn’t get their shine,” she said of many black female comedy writers from the 90’s. “They were constantly banging on the doors. I rolled up and all I had to do was tip it and walk through.”

The influence of her own mentors (Ava DuVernay, Mara Brock Akil, and Gine Prince-Bythewood), has inspired Waithe to focus on mentoring the next crop of young writers.

“I have a ton of mentees. They’re all people of color. Some of them are poor. And I’m just trying to help them learn how to be great writers. And for those that have become really good writers, I help them get representation; and those that have representation, I want to help get them jobs. That to me is a form of activism. I was doing this before Time’s Up was created. I am doing it now. Activism is me paying for a writer to go to a television-writing class.”

Waithe also addresses the allegations against Ansari in which an anonymous 23-year-old photographer claimed that she felt “violated” after a date with the Masters of None star that led to the two engaging in sexual activity.

“At the end of the day, what I would hope comes out of this is that we as a society educate ourselves about what consent is– what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like,” she says. “I think there are both men and women who are still trying to figure it out. We need to be more attuned to each other, pay more attention to each other, in every scenario, and really make sure that, whatever it is we’re doing with someone else, they’re comfortable doing whatever that thing is, and that we’re doing it together. That’s just human kindness and decency.”

Check out the full story at Vanity Fair.

 

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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