People. America. The World.
I sincerely advise that you do not sleep on the creative genius that is the baseball cap rockin’, sporty spice of life, Lena Waithe. If just the name is not enough for you, then allow me to slap your ridiculous memory upside the head for a quick second. Do you remember people making a necessary and well-deserved fuss over some female writer winning an Emmy last year with Aziz Ansari? Yes, you do. At least pretend like you do. Did you binge-watch Master of None like every other person in the world stealing their friend’s Netflix account? If you answered yes, you’re blessed and well-informed. Pat yourself on the back and eat two cookies. If you answered no, you need to get your life all the way together and pay your therapist over time. I’ll pray for you. But, before you do all that, allow me to gracefully educate you.
Lena Waithe is a phenomenal woman of many talents. Her most prominent mode of badassery is a television screenwriter. That’s right, not all screenwriters look like the Unabomber living in his mom’s basement. You probably don’t even know what a screenwriter looks like in the first place. Screenwriters, whether for television or film aren’t necessarily the most popular kid on set. Realistically, we’re probably not on set at all. In most cases, writing a screenplay is like the pre-production for the actual pre-production process. When it comes to awards shows, red carpets, and late night show appearances, nobody’s really checking for the writers. This was my entire life at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
The game is changing. The writers are emerging into the forefront of the industry with the rise of narrative television and new representation. Leading the charge are women like Lena Waithe, Ava Duvernay, Issa Rae and many other black, female writers. They are dousing the industry in black girl magic, and I love every single drop of it.
Where does this magical, writing unicorn, Lena, hail from? Waithe is a Chicago-born screenwriter. This is the same city that blessed the world with game-changing talents like Chance The Rapper, Jennifer Hudson and Common. Let’s give a round of applause to the windy city for fostering these gems of genius. In addition to screenwriter, Waithe is a producer and actress well known for her role as Denise on the Netflix comedy series, Master of None starring Aziz Ansari. The character, Denise, was initially intended to be a straight, white woman but the character was instead rewritten as a black, lesbian woman for Lena Waithe. Pause. This should shock you to your core because this is a rare character to see on anybody’s television.
This is one of the most unusual cases of a triple-minority in the world of film and television having the game literally changed for her benefit.
100+ points to Lena Waithe.
What is a triple-minority? She’s a black, lesbian woman.
If Waithe’s portrayal of the character alone wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Lena Waithe manifested a historical moment when she became the first black woman to ever win Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. This is not a drill. Lena Waithe starred in and wrote for Master of None at the same time. The Emmy-winning episode was the eighth episode of season 2, Thanksgiving, based on Waithe’s own coming out story.
master of thanksgiving. waithe and the legendary angela bassett serving a meal of pure talent
The Emmy-award winning episode was just the beginning for the queen because, on January 7, 2018, The Chi premiered on Showtime. The Chi, a drama series created by Lena Waithe is a devastatingly, beautiful portrayal of life in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. In only a matter of months, Waithe was writing episodes and starring in a Netflix show, winning awards, making history and creating television shows on premium cable networks. You can also catch her starring in the new film adaptation of 2011 Ernest Cline novel, Ready Player One and a guest role on season two of Dear White People. She can’t stop, won’t stop and we don’t want her to ever stop.
Don’t worry. It’s never too late. It’s time to get your life together and catch up on the literary greatness of Lena Waithe. To give you a perspective of the importance of Lena Waithe’s emerging influence, take a moment to remember the film and television industry twenty years ago and think of the stories being told within our mainstream media and think of now. Here’s what you need to watch. Get to work.
watch her rise to fame with your own eyes
it’s real world poetry on the screen
video game nerds rejoice
she’s more than just a producer this time