Lena Waithe is the woman of the moment.
On Thursday, she was one of the honorees at ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood. Her hit show The Chi has been renewed for a second season on Showtime. And, she recently inked a deal with Sight Unseen Pictures to bring projects to the big screen.
This week, Waithe dropped by ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! to talk about being a Black woman in Hollywood and shared that one of the ways she uses her success to help others is by suggesting talented Black creatives for jobs in the industry.
Describing what it’s like to be a Black creative in Hollywood, Waithe dished that, of course, there are issues, but what it always comes down to is money. However, as films and TV shows like Get Out, Atlanta, and The Chi have proved, quality Black entertainment is hard to duplicate and now the industry is scrambling to bring in Black talent.
“What they now know is content is king and queen,” Waithe told ESSENCE. “So, we gotta go to the kings and queens and ask them for their content and say can you help us.”
According to Waithe, Hollywood execs often approach the same short list of Black creatives like Issa Rae, Donald Glover, and Jordan Peele, to name a few, but sometimes the projects don’t fit.
“Now, my mission is to lengthen the list. To add to it,” she said. “To go, ‘No, that’s not for me, but Cathy could slay it.’ Or, ‘No, that’s not me, but this new writer would be dope.’ That needs to be our job, which a lot of us are already doing. Issa’s been doing it. Justin’s doing it. A lot of us are trying to introduce these cats to the new class.”
“There’s a million Ryan Coogler’s and Justin Simien’s, we just got to find them. They’re out there. It’s not a fad this time.”