Lena Waithe Was Inspired To Write New Show ‘The Chi’ After Watching Another Chicago Gun Violence News Report
Antoine Antoniol/

Lena Waithe is preparing for the debut of her new show “The Chi,” a Showtime drama that explores life in the South Side of her hometown Chicago. And she tells the New York Daily News that inspiration for the show came to her after watching another news report about gun violence in the city.

“That’s where I’m from, and I want to tell our story in a really good way and show the humanity,” Waithe told the New York Daily News.

“They were walking through the neighborhoods that I lived in, been around,” the Chicago-born producer and actress told the publication. “I didn’t know the people the guy was interviewing but I felt like I knew them and I felt like I wanted to tell their story.”

The coming-of-age drama was executive produced by Waithe and Common, and has the likes of  Dope writer/director Rick Famuyiwa involved. Straight Outta Compton star Jason Mitchell will be part of the cast of a dozen characters navigating this seminal part of the city.

“I was born and raised in Chicago, and my city is really under duress at this moment. It has become a war zone,” Chicago-native Waithe told Vogue.com about the show last year. “It was not that violent when I grew up there. It was never a peaceful place, mind you, but it was not this bad. And my family still lives there. It’s something I think about often—those headlines aren’t just background noise to me.”

Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017. 

“The Chi” debuts Sunday, Jan 7 at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime.

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