During a brief interview with Variety during the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual grants banquet on Thursday, actress, producer, and screenwriter Lena Waithe discussed her new haircut and the significance behind her decision to cut off her hair.
Waithe, who starred in the Netflix series Master of None, said that she had been wanting to cut her hair for a while, but felt held back by societal expectations of womanhood and femininity.
At first, Waithe joked, “I’ve gotten gayer, guys,” but then went on to tell Variety, “I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am.”
“I think I thought for a long time,” Waithe continued, “‘Oh, if I cut my hair, I’ll be a stud, I’ll be — in the gay world, there’s a lot of categories — I’ll be a stud or I’ll be a butch,’ and I’ve always thought, ‘Well, no, I’m not that, I’m still soft,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I gotta put that down ’cause that’s something that’s outside of me.'”
Referring to her newly shaved head, Waithe noted that cutting her hair made her feel “so free and so happy and so joyful,” adding that she now feels that she has really “stepped into” herself.
“If people call me a butch or say ‘she’s stud’ or call me sir out in the world — so what? So be it,” she continued. “I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of makeup, and a haircut — I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?'”
After posting a picture of her haircut on Twitter with the caption “no more filters,” one user commented, “This is stupid she’s not even the first female celebrity to have a shaved head no one except her really care,” proceeding to name a list of various female actresses who had previously shaved their heads to play certain roles.
Waithe just simply replied, “All the white women you mentioned did it for movies. The women of color did it for freedom. Bye.”
Waithe, who recently became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for creating the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, is currently in the process of producing a comedy series for HBO from Kid Fury and is also working on the second season of her Showtime drama The Chi.