Lena Waithe believes Hollywood needs more black, queer creatives to work on its projects.
The Chi creator was a part of Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter‘s virtual Pride Summit and Prom event.
During the event, E! News reports that Waithe and Jonica T. Gibbs, who stars in Waithe’s show, Twenties, had a conversation about representation in the film and television industry. They both said they would like to see more black and queer actors on the big and small screen.
Gibbs, who identifies as a masculine-presenting lesbian woman, said she didn’t feel that she is seen on television, and wanted to see that change when it was her time to start acting. Her Twenties character, Hattie, is someone she said she would’ve liked to know growing up.
“I think representation in all regards is so necessary, and right now, we’re fighting for so many different causes,” Gibbs said. “Not just Black lives or Black male lives but Black trans lives, gay Black lives. I find that Hattie… is a very transitional character in that she can be relatable to a lot of different people.”
Waithe shared that Twenties was inspired by her own life. The series captures Waithe’s climb as a television writer as well as her experiences as a black, masculine-presenting lesbian woman. She said the show was difficult to get done and it took years to pitch. Her show was eventually picked up by BET in 2019 following the success of The Chi and her Emmy-winning work in Master of None.
“A lot of work had to be done for Twenties to exist in our world, in our society, in our nation, for people to embrace that,” Waithe recalled. “They were like… we can show Black men in the human light, but to see a queer Black woman was such a mindf–k for some people.”
During the conversation, Waithe also shared how some people deem masculine-presenting lesbian women as people who don’t express their emotions often. She confirmed that she doesn’t have that experience and can be “soft” and “vulnerable” at times. The writer also said she is working on being the best version of herself she can in all of her relationships. Waithe and her wife, Alana Mayo, filed for separation earlier this year. They secretly tied the knot in October of 2019.
While Waithe hasn’t discussed her breakup publicly, CNN reported that the reason behind the split was buzzed about on social media. The couple was subjected to cheating rumors, though neither party has confirmed that was the case. In their joint statement, they only shared that they will continue to be there for one another.
Earlier this month, Waithe also appeared during the class of 2020’s graduation event, Graduate Together. The star-studded event also included Barack Obama, Beyonce, and LeBron James.