When Lena Waithe teamed up with the visionary director and producer, Melina Matsoukas, the duo’s mutual respect for the richness of Black culture helped bring to life Queen & Slim. It’s an unexpected love story that displays hope, legacy, freedom and most importantly, the resiliency of Black love. And they made it art.

Queen & Slim is Waithe’s words with Matsoukas’ vision working in tandem, the same way the film’s namesakes, Queen (played by ESSENCE November cover star Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya), become allies then lovers in order to survive. Waithe told ESSENCE, “I think that’s why the film hits the way it does; it’s not put through a White filter.”

The film, in theaters November 27, is a very beautiful example of art that is not only for us, but by us as well. “Not one single note by a White person was taken or given. They were aware of the situation when I walked into Universal, which was: I would not take any notes from anyone that was not Black,” Waithe boldly shared.

While ESSENCE sat down with the prolific writer and producer, the Emmy Award-winning writer opened up about her own legacy, the trauma that exists behind Black excellence and Black people’s search for freedom.

Check out the interview above for more.