Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe

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Image result for LENA WAITHE

Image result for LENA WAITHE
Lena Waithe
170918-lena-waithe-emmys-rd-111a 33a6982d018ce6492634dd902f8202b6-e1505764042600.jpg

Waithe kissing her first Emmy at the 69th Primetime Emmys Awards after making history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Writing.
Born (1984-05-17) May 17, 1984 (age 33)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Education Evanston Township High School
Alma mater Columbia College Chicago
Occupation Actress, producer, screenwriter

Lena Waithe (born May 17, 1984)[1] is an American actress, producer, and screenwriter, best known for her role as Denise on the 2015 Netflix series Master of None.[2][3][4][5] Waithe made history at the 2017 Emmys when she won an award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series on Master of None, becoming the first black woman to do so.[6] The “Thanksgiving” episode for which she won the Emmy was partially based on her personal experience coming out to her mother.[7] She is the creative force behind the Showtime series The Chi.[8]

Early life[edit]

Waithe was born in Chicago, Illinois.[9][10] Though acting was not originally among Waithe’s ambitions,[4][11] she knew from the age of seven that she wanted to be a television writer, and received strong family support for her writing from her single mother and grandmother.[2] Her parents divorced when she was three. Waithe and her sister grew-up on the South Side of Chicago until Waithe was age 12 and attended there a mostly African-American Elementary magnet school, Turner-Drew.[8] She graduated from Evanston Township High School and earned a degree in Cinema and Television Arts[12] from Columbia College Chicago in 2006,[3][11][13] praising faculty playwright Michael Fry for his teaching and encouragement.[13][14]


Waithe has been a writer for the Fox television series Bones,[4] a writer for the 2012 Nickelodeon sitcom How to Rock, and a producer on the 2014 satirical comedy film Dear White People.[15] Waithe wrote and appeared in the YouTube series “Twenties” which was produced by Flavor Unit Entertainment and optioned in 2014 by BET.[16][17] In addition to writing and directing the short film “Save Me”, which was shown at several independent film festivals,[18] Waithe wrote the 2013 web series “Hello Cupid” and the 2011 viral video Shit Black Girls Say.[15]

In 2014, Variety named Waithe as one of its “10 Comedians to Watch”.[16] In August 2015, Showtime network commissioned a pilot for an upcoming series, The Chi, written by Waithe and produced by Common, which tells a young urban African-American man’s coming-of-age story.[19] As the show’s creator, Waithe’s goal was to bring her experience growing up on the South Side and experiencing its diversity to craft a story that paints a more nuanced portrait of her hometown than is typically shown.[20]

Waithe was cast in Master of None after meeting creator and lead actor Aziz Ansari who, with Alan Yang, had originally written Denise as a straight, white woman with the potential, according to Waithe, to evolve into one of the main character’s love interests: “For some reason, [casting director] Allison Jones thought about me for it, a black gay woman.”[2] Ansari and Yang rewrote the script to make the character more like Waithe: “All of us actors play heightened versions of ourselves.”[2] She said, “I don’t know if we’ve seen a sly, harem pants-wearing, cool Topshop sweatshirt-wearing, snapback hat-rocking lesbian on TV.”[4] She also said, “I know how many women I see out in the world who are very much like myself. We exist. To me, the visibility of it was what was going to be so important and so exciting.”[4]

In 2017, Waithe and Ansari won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the season 2 episode “Thanksgiving”.[21] She became the first black woman to win the award.[21][22][23] Waithe described the episode as based on her coming-out experience as a lesbian.[24] In her Emmy speech, she sent a special message to her LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual)[25] family discussing how “The things that make us different—those are our superpowers.”.[26] She ended her speech by recognizing her journey as a minority saying “thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago.” [27] She is also developing an autobiographical drama series called The Chi.[28][29] Out Magazine named Waithe the Out100: Artist of the Year on November 8, 2017. [30]

Personal life[edit]

Waithe has been in a relationship with Alana Mayo, a content executive,[31] for three years.[32] She attended the Emmys with her longtime girlfriend and mentioned Mayo during her Emmy speech, saying “I love you more than life itself.”


Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2017 Master of None (Episode: “Thanksgiving”)
(shared with Aziz Ansari)
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Won

Other awards[edit]

In 2017 Out named her as its Artist of the Year, and The Advocate named her as a finalist for its “Person of the Year”.[33][34]



Year Film Credited as Role Notes
2011 Save Me Director, Writer
2014 Dear White People Producer
2014 Ladylike Co-producer
2018 Ready Player One Actress Aech Post-production
2018 Step Sisters Producer


Year Show Credited as Role Notes
2000-2008 Girlfriends Assistant to Executive Producer 2 episodes
2005, 2014 The Comeback Actress Summer 1 episode
2005-2017 Bones Writer 15 episodes
2012- M.O Diaries Writer
2012 How to Rock Writer 2 episodes
2013 Hello Cupid Writer 7 episodes
2014- Transparent Actor Jane Episode: “Elizah”
2015–2017 Master of None Actor, Writer Denise 2 seasons
2018 The Chi Creator, Writer

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