Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe is one of Hollywood’s most promising up-and-coming talents, who continues to grow her body of work with diversity and charisma. One of Hollywood Reporter’s “TV Breakouts,” Waithe expertly taps into emerging cultural sensibilities with a sharp wit, speaking to myriad experiences from her unique perspective and challenging audiences to think outside of conventional norms.
Waithe first made headlines in front of the camera as Denise, friend to Dev (Aziz Ansari) in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Master of None, whose second season premiered in May 2017. In a role that was originally intended for a straight, Caucasian female, Waithe has made Denise’s experience as a queer black woman uniquely her own. Waithe co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode, for which she made history as the first African-American female to win an Emmy for Comedy Writing. She followed that historic moment with NAACP Image Award and Writers Guild nominations. The episode chronicles Denise’s coming out to herself and her family, through the lens of the Thanksgiving holiday over 3 decades. Directed by Melina Matsoukas, the episode is largely based on Waithe’s personal experience.
As a writer, Waithe is serving as Creator and Executive Producer of The Chi, a relevant, timely and distinctive coming-of-age story that follows six interrelated characters in Chicago’s South Side. The show premiered to rave reviews on Showtime on January 7, 2018, which was penned for Fox 21 Television Studios. Common also produces with Rick Famuyiwa directing. “The Chi” stars Jason Mitchell, Sonja Sohn and Jacob Latimore.
She will next be seen on the big screen in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which Warner Bros. will release on March 29, 2018. The film is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 science fiction novel, in which people can escape the harsh real world in virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS leaves his entire fortune to the first person to find a hidden Easter egg, it hurls everyone into a reality bending treasure hunt filled with discovery and danger. Waithe will appear alongside Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke.
As a producer, Waithe’s credits include Step Sisters, a comedic dance film that follows a black sorority girl who agrees to teach the art of Greek stepping to a house of white, party-obsessed sorority girls. The film released on Netflix in January 2018. She was also a producer on the Sundance darling Dear White People, and Tiffany Johnson’s short film Ladylike, which can be found on YouTube.
Waithe’s additional acting credits include Amazon’s Transparent and HBO’s The Comeback.
Currently in development is the television series, Twenties, for which Waithe serves as writer and producer. The project is loosely based on her turbulent twenties and how she navigated her first decade of Los Angeles living. TBS recently picked up Twenties for a pilot.
One of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch” in 2014, Waithe was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Los Angeles.