The Emmy-winning writer of Master of None and The Chi discusses the Hollywood pipeline and joining Time’s Up.
Lena Waithe has had one hell of a year.
The writer, producer, and actor co-wrote one of Master of None‘s best episodes to date with season two’s “Thanksgiving,” an ambitious retrospective of her character’s life over several holidays in which she struggles to get her mother (played by Angela Bassett!) to accept that her daughter is gay. The episode went on to win Waithe an Emmy for Comedy Writing — making her the first black woman to do so, ever.
Meanwhile, Waithe was developing her own drama. In creating, writing, and producing The Chi — premiering tonight on Showtime — Waithe has made an empathetic love letter to the South Side of Chicago, the place she grew up that has become a frequent target of oblivious disdain.
And when the new year rolled around, Waithe was announced as one of the 300 women in Hollywood who’ve come together to form Time’s Up, an initiative to combat sexual harassment and workplace abuse across multiple industries that has already raised $15 million to act as a legal fund for victims who want to fight back against abusive situations, but are unable to do so on their own.
The supportive structure of Time’s Up goes hand in hand with Waithe’s personal ethos. As she told me in an interview at Showtime’s press tour for The Chi — held the day before the Golden Globes, where Waithe and many other attendees will be wearing black in support of the #MeToo movement — she has no interest in basking in her own success without offering a ladder to other marginalized voices who need help in order to get where she is now.
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