T Emmy Awards of their year saw a new wave of television makers collapse the annual party. The Handmaid's Tale gave Hulu an unexpected victory, new talent such as Donald Glover broke the glass ceiling and, amid the excitement over the diversity of awards, some unwanted records also broke.
Master of None star and screenwriter, Lena Waithe, became the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing. "Thank you for hugging a small Indian boy from South Carolina and a rare black girl from South Chicago," he said in an emotional speech that went viral and was reproduced in its entirety on the Time magazine website.
Thanksgiving, the episode he wrote that won him the award, was based on his own presentation process that took place over the course of a decade of Thanksgiving dinners. But Waithe almost did not write the episode. "I did not think my outing was so interesting," says the 33-year-old actor, screenwriter and producer.
Despite his claims, it is his own life and experiences in which Hollywood and television companies are investing. everything, is to play and write about her and her life, as in her new drama The Chi, which will premiere this Sunday in the United States, which has confirmed her status as one of the most intriguing new voices on television.
"You often see women's stories, but often you do not see women of color who are queers, and I think we need more of that," he offers as an explanation for his sudden demand. "I want to be as honest and vulnerable as possible so that we do not just have a corny black girl following stereotypes and tropes: like the black mother angry with the Bible, that was not my experience."
Your experience has always been atypical. While in high school, her mother did not allow her to work, but once she graduated and enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago, she found a way to get closer to the film and television industry. She worked in a movie theater, in the media department at Best Buy, and in a Blockbuster store. Requesting a transfer from the latter, she moved to Los Angeles in 2006.
Once there, she worked in the television industry, beginning as an assistant to the longtime comedy executive producer, very demure, Brides. But Waithe soon attracted attention in a way he did not intend. Previewed to become a screenwriter, she was surprised to be chosen for a small role in the cutting-edge drama of Lisa Kudrow HBO The Comeback. For 12 years, she wrote for Bones, but her great acting opportunity came when Aziz Ansari rewrote a role in her Netflix Master of None for the character, her best friend Denise, to resemble Waithe.
Ansari made it a fundamental part of the series; a senseless confidante who rose above the trope of the "best black friend", and instead became a completely rounded character. Exactly the kind Waithe is not used to seeing on television.
"There is no television program where the protagonist is a homosexual person of color, male or female," says Waithe. "We still have a long way to go to really show the breadth of the queer community, there are people like me who exist and deserve to be on the screen as well."
Growing up in South Chicago On the side, Waithe realized at the beginning that his face was not reflected in it from that screen. "If it comes from a poor environment and has a single mother, television becomes what she dreams of," she says. "It's really important for young browns to see other brown kids on TV because it's like you're watching a version of yourself that you expected to be"
. What seemed to be represented, however, was negativity. The south side was, still is, as is all of Chicago, represented as a violent, nihilistic and dangerous place. It was that one-dimensional narrative that provided the inspiration for The Chi. The drama begins with a literal blow that sets in motion a cycle of revenge, high stakes and often heartbreaking decisions that cause the lives of four characters to cross paths in unexpected ways. "People are excited about violence with guns, and [it] must be informed, but we want to do it from a very human point of view," says Waithe. "I want to tell a story about where I am from and the people who are there versus the headlines."
Companion of Chicago, actor and common rapper hired as executive producer, attracted by Waithe's goal of accurate representation. "I'm trying to humanize these people as much as possible," she says. "They act like it's a jungle or that young black males are the problem." Actually, I think it's the system. Many of these problems are way above our payment qualification. It is a complex city. There is a lot of beauty there. There is a lot of humanity there. Lots of light, lots of joy. "
An audition for Steven Spielberg is a highlight for most actors, but for Waithe it did not have the same weight:" I did it for shit and giggles, "she says. Master of None, in addition to rushing to pick up The Chi, meant that Waithe had neither the time nor the desire to attend auditions, but when the casting agents of Ready Player One saw his picture, they wanted her to read.
"I came out of respect and read my usual cadence," says Waithe, after a callback, his phone rang and he heard a phrase that perhaps a handful of actors, especially relative novices, once heard: "Steven saw your tape and he wants you to play this character "
booked a flight to London, where Ready Player One was filming, and dived into the role – which she still can not elaborate on." Steven is a giant who does not make people is sient to small He has many women in positions of power on the set. I appreciate it in this day and age, "he adds.
But that does not mean I did not ask him to work hard, which is why he resisted when Ansari asked him to write an episode about his departure. Ansari insisted, flew to London and wrote the script for Thanksgiving in three days. "Ninety-nine percent of what we write is what we filmed. When people say they like it, I feel very flattered because it's really me and the blood, sweat and guts of Aziz, "he says.
Still, he says, there's a long way to go, and it does not necessarily have to carry that burden alone. "I'm struggling to help fix that. Let's make a series of people who are intersex, asexual, and really break some glass roofs, "she says." Someone craves those characters and those stories. "
If anyone knows, a weird little black girl from South Chicago certainly he does it.
- Chi starts in the US, Sunday on Showtime, Ready Player One goes out on March 30 in the UK