Lena Waithe Talks People Learning About LGBTQIA+ Community: I Can’t Educate You About Every Letter
Lena Waithe has been an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community on and off the screen, but she made it clear she’s not the one to educate everyone on each aspect of the acronym.
In a new interview, “The Chi” creator first talks, in part, about sharing more stories in terms of queer representation on TV,
“The bisexual community still doesn’t have a ton of representation on television. There are still people whom we haven’t explored–people who identify as asexual, nonbinary, gender queer, trans. It’s important that people of a queer experience help tell those stories. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Hey, Lena, so you gay. I want to be educated about the trans community.’ Well, you should speak to a person who is of the trans experience. Just because we fall under the same LGBTQIA+ umbrella doesn’t mean that I can educate you about every single letter.”
Lena Waithe has already begun to tell some of these stories, such as her semi-autobiographical series Twenties that has been picked up for season 2 on BET, centering around a masculine-presenting woman who’s character is “silly and warm,” according to Waithe.
“Because of how she presents, they [people] think she’ll be more aggressive–not listening to Whitney Houston while watching Youtube videos.”
Lena Waithe, throughout her work as an actress and writer, has always been unapologetically black and gay, and has represented this through the stories she tells. Though Twenties was written first, six years ago, her hit series, The Chi, was easier to sell. She claims of The Chi,
“It was gritty, it was dark, it was Black. But I remember, with The Chi’s character of Brandon [Jason Mitchell], I was like, ‘He’s a Black boy with a dream.'”
Lena Waithe continued,
“It was hard to have that conversation. For some reason, it just felt foreign [to executives]. That’s no one’s fault. I don’t think anyone was trying to be racist. They just didn’t have the understanding. That’s the reckoning that’s happening right now. Black people have always had hopes and dreams. And I think that has been very difficult sometimes for white execs to understand and to allow us the space to write stories about that. I remember being so frustrated on those calls. I was like, “What is so hard to understand?”
On the topic of opportunities for Black people, Lena Waithe touched on having a white man as the showrunner for her show, The Chi. She stated that it’s “always my preference” to have a Black showrunner on a Black project with a Black point of view.
“Luckily, I found that it is not as hard a conversation now as it was maybe three or four years ago. Networks and studios don’t want to be the place that a Black or person of color says, ‘I was forced to have a white showrunner on my show.’ Even though people did think that it was weird to have a white guy as a showrunner on [The Chi], it wasn’t.”
“Now it is a little taboo. It goes back to Black writers not getting promoted quickly enough.”
“I want a Black person, and they can learn on the job. Often a Black person and white person have been in the business for the same amount of time, but the white person is at EP level and the Black person is still a supervising producer.”
Having thoroughly established herself in the business, Lena Waithe who claims “I like what Issa [Rae] said: ‘I’m rooting for everybody Black,'” is well on her way to proving it.
Recently it was announced that Lena Waithe wrote ‘Talent Show’, a new musical drama starring her rumored boo, Cynthia Erivo.
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