Episode 68: Lena Waithe | Hollywood Is Life

Justin and Joy sit down with Lena Waithe to discuss her recent Emmy nomination, relationship with a Hollywood executive, and the importance of having television content reflective of black culture.

Elevator Pitch

  • Lena’s recent Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.
  • The importance of representing black culture in Hollywood.
  • The story behind Lena’s coming out story in Master of None’s “Thanksgiving” episode.
  • Being her current partner’s first girlfriend and dating a Hollywood executive.
  • Working with Steven Spielberg in the upcoming film, “Ready Player One”.
  • Her upcoming series with Showtime, “The Chi”, and the the motivation behind its inception.
  • Why it’s critical to have more black executives in Hollywood.
  • Fish Bowl: Are you holding onto something you should let go of? What big lesson can people learn from your life?
  • And much more!

Lena Waithe

More About Lena

Lena Waithe is one of Hollywood’s most promising up-and-coming talents who continues to grow her body of work with diversity, charisma and comedy. One of HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s “TV Breakouts,” Waithe expertly taps into emerging cultural sensibilities with a sharp wit, speaking to myriad experiences from her unique perspective and challenging audiences to think outside of conventional norms.

Waithe first made headlines in front of the camera as Denise, friend to Dev (Aziz Ansari) in the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Master of None,” whose second season premiered in May 2017. In a role that was originally intended for a straight, Caucasian female, Waithe has made Denise’s experience as a queer black woman uniquely her own. This season, Waithe co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode, which chronicles Denise’s coming out to herself and her family, through the lens of the Thanksgiving holiday over 3 decades. The episode, which was directed by Melina Matsoukas, is largely based on Waithe’s personal experience and has been regarded of one of the best episodes of the series.

She will next be seen on the big screen in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which Warner Brothers will release in the Spring of 2018. The film, which is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 science fiction and dystopian novel, follows the players of virtual reality simulator OASIS, who are pitted against each other in the search of fame and fortune that will save them from their declining world. Waithe will appear alongside Ty Sheridan and Olivia Cooke.

Waithe’s additional acting credits include Amazon’s “Transparent,” HBO’s “The Comeback,” and Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Life of Bees.

As a writer, Waithe is serving as Creator and Executive Producer of “The Chi,” a relevant, timely, and distinctive coming-of-age story that follows six interrelated characters in Chicago’s South Side. Showtime will premiere the show in January, which was penned for Fox 21 Television Studios. Common and Elwood Reid will produce, with Rick Famuyiwa directing. “The Chi” will star Jason Mitchell, Sonja Sohn, Jacob Latimore, and others yet to be announced.

Waithe’s producing credits include the upcoming Charles Stone III film Step Sisters, a comedic dance film that follows a black sorority girl who agrees to teach the art of Greek stepping to a house of party-obsessed sorority sisters. She was also a producer on Netflix’s popular Dear White People, and Tiffany Johnson’s Ladylike.

At her core, Waithe is a writer whose credits include Fox’s “Bones,” Fox Searchlight’s Notorious, Alloy Entertainment’s “How to Rock”, and Issa Rae’s “M.O. Diaries.”

One of VARIETY’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch” in 2014, Waithe was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Los Angeles.

Connect with Lena

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