At the 69th Emmy Awards on Sunday, writer, producer and actress Lena Waithe became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. Waithe, who plays Denise in the Netflix series, Master Of None, won for penning the series’ acclaimed coming-out episode “Thanksgiving.”
During her acceptance speech, Waithe acknowledged and thanked her “LGBTQIA” family. “I see each and every one of you,” said Waithe. “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.” Here are five things to know about Waithe.
This Is Her Second First
Not only is Waithe the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, but her nomination made history too. She was also the first woman of color to have ever been nominated for the “Outstanding Writing In A Comedy Series” category.
She Reps Chicago
Waithe, 33, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and grew up on the Southside of the city.
She’s Hella Funny
Waithe was named one of Variety’s “10 Comedians to Watch’ in 2014.
She’s Known For Her Work Behind and In Front Of the Cameras
While Waithe is best known for playing Denise on Master Of None alongside creator and lead actor Aziz Ansari, she’s also stacked up plenty of receipts as a screenwriter. Waithe has written for Nickelodeon’s sitcom How to Rock and FOX’s Bones. She worked as a producer on the set on the film Dear White People and she wrote and appeared on YouTube series Twenties. Waithe also penned the web series Hello Cupid in 2013 and viral video Shit Black Girls Say.
She Has A New Show Coming Soon
In January, Waithe signed a production deal with Showtime. Waithe has created a new show titled The Chi that was picked up by the premium network. And some big names––like Common and Dope writer/director Rick Famuyiwa––have been attached to the project. Straight Outta Compton star Jason Mitchell will be part of the coming-of-age series that follows half a dozen characters navigating the South Side of Chicago, where growing up can be a matter of life and death.
She Stays Humble
Waithe worked as an assistant on the set of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Secret Life of Bees, where she says she learned a memorable lesson from Bythewood. “Always maintain your composure,’’ Waithe said on ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast, explaining that Bythewood’s attitude under pressure was always relaxed. “She’s never rattled, like, I never saw her rattled. I never saw her raise her voice, she’s always super polite even to people who aren’t always being polite to her, which is a thing I definitely learned that, I think, a lot of Black women have.”
Listen to Waithe’s full Yes, Girl! interview below.