Lena Waithe on the making of 'Queen & Slim'

The writer talks to Peter Travers about her inspiration for the new romantic thriller, "Queen & Slim."
24:56 | 11/27/19

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Transcript for Lena Waithe on the making of 'Queen & Slim'
Called queen and flam. Written. By my guest today and you can't wait so we welcome to the show thank you found me well please come on this is exciting back. I didn't I didn't do the the whole thing that everybody in true view with which is basically she acts. You're the first African American woman to win it any yet for outstanding common. Right else Atlanta comedies here here yeah why don't want the likes sketch comedy and and the began with the first woman of color and every nominated category and the first black woman renowned in obviously for too long and you meet. We each time physical friendly with both of them which is that why great goodness that he has great it's great here is it through just think being a first. And that way down a feel. Honored but also humbled by and I mean because. I know that there's no way that on the first black woman ever write as script worthy of winning and Emmy acting. Sometimes. Hollywood has the ketchup and times change and I'm grateful that I could sort of be. That vessel that to have known. We'll make it happen again and it was good it would defeat it beat you gave what this means is that river. ME way to thank you. You know scary thing be up there are differences are steel group now. Yeah you know that's kind of the great thing to say to anybody thank you I think that's not bill and other thing that you do it is. You're sort of out there helping. For people you get it there's a lot. That goes on in this this is where it's all about me rye. And EU good I had to struggle so basically you just do it on your own but you're always out there in and now I'm mapping from me. I acted a lot of attention and south on a TV show up in a movie and won an award it collapse had to do was use that attention has shifted. On other artists who are worthy of it and who acting. People should be paying attention to. And so for me with the greatest thing about my legacy will be his how many people can use to the American public because there's so many great. Black women what artists of color directors writers. It's a Renaissance and I want an extra people know that is not just three of us it's easy to sell Donald Lee in Isa got it as life I won't allow that. And I think that's that the new thing it's not just about. What can I do for myself what kind of you're movies coming out again. At around Thanksgiving and I think that's pretty great too because that was the Thanksgiving episode of after nine rapidly paying with the holiday now yeah that. Well house proposed on Thanksgiving for the 1000 Tokyo and I don't work because he's and it worked out yet it's really. The one that the propose yes I propose O ring and the whole thing anything I think it down and leave but assets relief romantic words I believe you are who are willing. You know. I better have regular rider that it lacked a high bar. She goes it was like she knew it was coming and in no way and but yet as though a proposal things here obviously the things that an episode and then you know when Donna Langley she knew that she thought this movie will be special in addition come out. During the fall she says. Christmas or Thanksgiving and family and the talent into the process what do you think this is an art things it is so I have given the flag you know that's the best today and also to other because it was so much more educated now about. Where that holiday it was what that how it was born out. And that people know that it was really they have genocide in that was an adult size advantage of that side so I'll look for answers Delaware going to sort of taken aback yeah out of Santa probably likely slam and then all the things that it sort of tackles and I'm hostels like fitting for the come they would. Well it doesn't he should disgust basically. As much as you can write it practice fitted out for some but right because. Some movies are like that you don't want to give too much away but you have to say this is what you're in what we're going to rise. Right we'll look at me that the basic premise is this it's it's a black man a black woman. Out on a tender date is their first time ever need a hand or glory and is not going horribly either. By the way they AE has arrived home modeling comic Apolo about police officer was very terrified of your personal collar. Common things do escalate fairly quickly and they ultimately killed police officers felt. And slap in the car ride and ultimately become sort of folk heroes they become these automatic icons and there was right where people who decided to survive. And and and it really is is the meditation on what it means to be black in a world that's at a burning all around you. What it means not be protected by the police but to be policed by the mountain. And jobless and why it's. Going to a lot of things you know I think being a black person in America can be quite traumatize thing. As for me my weapon of choice is a laptop and I want so to right through that to work could weapons. Yeah I'm really violence so that's the least of what the film as but the community. Backed want. Just moved me to tears sometimes about this and that everywhere they go out and the police are hunting him. Learn there will win there with the black community nine. They it's like yeah it's like as long as you're here to save. You'll again he and I think a lot of that was me time expressed at the black community is. Such a safe haven you know sometimes and advocate sometimes not now not in so. It's it's it's very complicated and and I think are really wanted to show you know how black unity can also be sort of a bit of a weapon and we actually bond together. Things that we can count to stay alive. Without ever making it look like you're trying to say it we need to incite violence and I you you're just saying. How do we just this because there's so much these feelings are so volatile and a raw rank. You know yapping is sure I think black people since I mean the beginning of time about a very rock relationship with police I mean. For me as a young kid learning history but I watched footage of the civil rights movement I was saying. Police officers be down black college students of the times news. You know hoses on them and horses and I dogs and and I'm but these are police officers I was like but aren't they at supposed to protect Serbs and a young. Person trying to understand where I see that there's also go to school as a police officers your friend. With the Nazi footage from the sixties about the stuff is beating people that look like my mother. So is a very complicated relationship that we have. With a police. That was sort of went out and talked about and so is that where it came from. Without bail this old idea itself came from James Frey so he's that we use when as a pitchman idea. I thought yeah wanna write that way I think what was happening in our country even though I mean since I wrote the scripts it the relation has become even more fraught you know. And I a I really want to dive into. How that feels you know we've we've seen so many news stories about true Martin. Mike Brown air partners tangible I am in the list of things going on. And seems to be open season. And and and also is very traumatized and for us to hear about the cops been acquitted. And being back on the force maybe just two months later so it's it's it's not do nor its not normal for us to experience this now country. What this movie really does with these two characters oh chose us to. Black people wrong. Who stand up for them so idea what we get we've seen a lot of this we're basically. OK you know. Wry rack and the part of the drama the tragedy everything that goes on in this movie is it and what makes it so I think. Validating. And you want to root for them here is that this had now I'm. I'd do this right and I'm not gonna just sit here right and take all this crap from you present this day. No this is who I am this is what he'd do it right there refused to be victims yeah and and. That was something I really wanted to happen also to their sort of prototypes like -- maxis and of the northstar for her character and model that the king was in north star for his seat and got into the movie Allen from the swap places. And that he is being respectful you know it is what companies alike can argue that. He is it extremely respectful but he is no sir yes there okay sir yes assessment term. Just ask you yes he's in he also says it is cold and could this area but believe it. That's the thing what can be deemed as disrespectful. We very interesting technically isn't something the other day I was I found it fascinating as he said sometimes a black person. Respecting themselves to a white person can seem disrespectful. Not five but atmosphere somewhere but I believe that there's this truth of that you know on bikes at the plant was asked at a cigarette. She's it is illegal for Biden on the in my car around you know and he says it's about the car. Out of car and that moment apparent that we now watch that. A lot when I was writing 2000 what is it what happens and it's us that's it that's it's that tiny moment what they made dean is disrespectful or not honoring their authority. And then all of a sudden it goes from between nineteen in the 1953 and two cent. It's just it in recent movie that really shake you and means through and does you know but. When it's being made when it passes from you as a screen move on. What what say do you have in who cast them. Well I was very blessed in that because at the book but how are wrote this this feature Alice sort of known a little bay and wind and the people's Sami ray player Weiner. Based on a mass amounts are kind of had a bit you know a little bit a power. And a bit but my power really lies and the work is in the script and not do that to make the script amazing particularly because of way I was tackling. And I really fought hard to mission mr. Pastrana. And identically actually rather early draft of it before Molina even did. And because in our friendly and we had an earnings Eleanor re which are working on substance in this case he read it quickly and then he's Armenian says I have to excellent. I have to be slapped. Asked OK I'll I'll get you have to be you know it's not that well I really wanna leave them as it has to direct. That would have what we have done things giving and I just. Loved our partnership and the way we collaborated. And I'll think that she hasn't ready yet asset but was she does. As she says if she says yes I'm confident she will do whatever quickness I myopia conversation between she and I. So that you got a hold tight a letter reading let us come together and then we'll circle back and that outweigh. Hourly he did he wait a few months from only with a good him. Yeah he's the star get out of mind you but how I was like OK as though Molina an Oscar nominee exam so I was very flattered you know an ounce of respect the Muslim activist by you wanna do this. Was amazing as so at W Harry sat black campus he really could do whatever you wanted to and the fact he really wanted to chase this was very flattering. And then won only this issue what to do it doesn't start to realize that two very phenomenal artists as of them to say it would be a part of this things you grow. Man alive and is the first. Yes it first for her again after that first requires doing the you know as a feature film and so it just in it is authentic came together and then we went out of the business. It was a pretty sexy package you know those like me coming up and in name only and everybody was witness who Harper's speech it would be. Nazr Daniel was sort of like the hottest thing in town and when I got you Jody Williams the thing we we knew. Because we have to sort of powerhouse team. We demanded that the queen would be a break out role and that we wanted to be a browns and actors dom and we also got final cut on this now which is rare. Com so universally would. And lessen your final cut because of the subject matter and I. Authors our views signals a white person on this movie and he and then are produces and Brad were both white were like okay you Adonal and we said sure. We really had complete autonomy so I think it's also big reason why you say it shakes you. I think it's because of that. Because it's not filter does not water down its a 100% pure. And I think he rarely get movies like that anymore. Well right after. It did policeman is shot and we. They move bond we have a little scene I'll go at that rate that collect so let's look at that let white make it happen let's watch it would vote didn't start. Are you going plus in my beautiful Obama banned. I don't know what we operate. Particular exit does it well. Europe Latin and Cuban took. Talks got. And that's pretty. He warned. Ashley Cole who. Analysts enough for him. If you turn yourself in. He will never see that again it. Four wicket it's not impacting us. The heat. Let's just go. What's the two killer thing about them seeing is that I did you see movies where sometimes people running from the law or they're just going but. I haven't seen one where it's so moving to hear someone say what about my Fam Ryan. What am I losing by going on the rise I can't ever really get them again right what I'm attacks tear in my life is gone. You have to and I think maybe gases for what I brought to it in terms. Dad I always try to be honest when I'm writing and trying to think what would I say what I think. And that would be one of the things I would think about like soul in my never Tennessee. My chosen family mom manly number of family ever again because I'm such a product of my community. But back to me that relationship exactly is says I'm such a part of my identity. Sao way it would almost be me leaving a part of myself. To stay alive and I think it's also being metaphor for black people in terms of what we're willing to sacrifice to survive. And sometimes those things that we don't want to sacrifice but we have to. And also Daniel I mean to the words words but. When he said that he there was a look at his high. And pain in his voice that out I've been a lot less opted to be a some screenings and where I've gotten our hands and they always they heartened to hear their heart rate. When he says that when he does that happen. But you also know that she's right. That's the thing allies are writing has even when both people have different opinions on what it was they obviously do. They both have to be right. It one of making really good points. And she's making great points she's my goodness this is that we killed a top student there's no coming back from as a lawyer she knows when now beasts she announced towns and what it means for the rest of their lives correct associates lag let would be to take a chance or just give ourselves news. To this did this system that she sees doesn't always. Support our own local area. It's always personal with you me and adams' via the child he watched it what it's years he. This is Chicago this is where you grew up in to the people that Iran. Rile things get on mile coming out story and let us in this and that's a good point because there you mean what's fascinating that Thanksgiving is that we see. Three manifestation. Of yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah help whichever club it's a Latin girl. And another facet doing a great grandmother to in doing that also loved the fact that. She has this poster Jennifer ants. Well yes because that's to me like it was that you usually iGoogle you know I think. I really lights television period I like television I like my the movies. I have like the was that it was an Abbas had to hear what's on off of him now. So my mind references are not all black even a very proud black queer woman and then look at my work I mean. Black people at the center of mine there and it. But I'm also influenced by friends eyes or listen to the the commentary on Marta Kauffman David Crane. That's a theory he yeah it suits you lose you're listening to writers I don't love that. And only. Residents to Michael Patrick King sex in the city is commentary directed in the director's commentator on episodes. And I'll listen to him talk about. Why he made certain decisions and also Marta Kauffman David and talking about you know how why they did certain things are. How they plan on bringing a story full circle it was very it was an amount all to the master class Chicago in my. Bob Bob Bob bedroom listening and taking notes have been mindful so yeah I am I respect to you know those actors and now those who have some new light. Sir just the parkers in France and they they're their icons and again people that I looked up to those imprisoned. But it's so I don't know itself rain to watch you your character. Looking at those posters looking and Jennifer Aniston and saying to a diseases SARS scare there I just want some time with chant. I. But but she's just laid back. Let's that it's like I'm no I didn't like to have to live like you know you know that myself it was really cold its was silent. So now in terms of your future I don't know how it's changing use them married you know might be a whole different. Not if you have you know without mayor every mayor I've always thought what we're Mary I think now we just have jury. Let out my wife on actually set the financial sanctions I think not at your Mary. And so this way I think it'll. Have an impact on the next things you write what you write about. And I agree with that think as as. Writers and artists as their lives involved so that their work and made it can't not in as though she's like I can't wait to see what you write about mayors are which you read about. Being settled we all can't we want to hear that but what about directing free. I have no desire to do that really hand at I think that's a carafe a lot of writers want they think that's the best way to protect what -- yeah I like to trusts directors that I work with you normally and I like sisters not sat right next to her every day on the senate and slam them. I the next hour today on percent of you know mass denial of filming but with Queensland you know completely trusts allows us at as a resource I was there to make sure. They were living route lines in the right way. But we really are tag team that's not what what directors is that that's something I've written. Is that I believe what to be collaboration because I want their gift to upland mine. Which is what happens that's great it would really allow someone to come and it. Breathe life into it you never know. And come out and I have no desire to do everything. We use you have to be somebody that's in twelve places at once that's all projects that you have got to have a great team have been greatly if you Amazon deal on the outside it's going to be the hard college you're damn damn near covenant with the guy Amazon actually which are coming up third season the shy yet that there were wrapping up filming right now I'm Natalie AirTouch winning is winning this comment February ET on the sausage is time he. I. When did you find time to get married I'll I L is very quick it was an earthquake just. Now I'm I have a wonderful support system and a great team. Everyone from my publicity it's name my assistance my. My producer partner Reese resigning who has been opera company mom raising manager. You know Debian mean just over a support. But I just as I really does take as village of people that trust and outlaw. And really make sure that everything sort of happens ways and that we protect the heart because that's what matters most to me and I colleges Alice has put up want things to. To matter at they want when you see Queensland. You can tell that is something that I pour a lot of time and energy to even while doing that I was doing. Other things but I trust and Alina I trust the costume department that's production does not trust in my actors. To do what they've done you know I want to make the move the wheel that features crap they did they always do that was great thing so let's take. Two questions from Matt yeah outside from we have what's the let Lama and says Daniels a beautiful man. The entire cast is beautiful did you write this movie with this particular cast the what you kind of the end yet I I don't actually write with actors mine's funny and I know some writers do be helpful of Danny was on the phone thing I got idea it was right what I want our honored by. He you know I think that helps me with the capping process because if I have an actor in mind the whole time and they don't do it. Did I it's heartening to see anyone else so I really do have opened my own accounts accounts and is not a great Schroeder's you see somebody in and that's not. Richer ones that about okay one more thing. She to pieces the trailer gives me chills can't. Weigh in when you actually hear the actors speaking the words that you wrote. Does it make you emotional that the good to you everything that I've I've seen the movies so many times in the matter races that it. Way you know she I think just recently. We we count at this act came into the end of the screen to do a Q&A and I copper the last fifteen minutes. And I still get emotional you know what the Salman. I think because I'm also feeling the audience watching it for the first time but also on his emotional. The fact an excellent monitoring the fact that I get to actually do this that I really was accused Chicago. Daydreaming about the industry and you know loving Hollywood and old Hollywood particularly and so to be a part of this. Legacy to be a part of this. Piece of Americana you know movies are as American as apple pop and and they really are a time stand there they are proof that we existed. As of the fact that I can contribute. Two so this the sort of celluloid library. And and put our narratives and there is something that's not lost on me. So that never take program now and you know the love that you have. For that form that are formed and is is inherent in everything that you do all things but still it's also great that you do would select. Ambassador could have the well yeah because that's what the hell is wrong the as well I think it would that right right right exactly welding that this the first time you've done the show yeah I don't know that it ends in a little bit of song OK yes all right I don't know what songs in your head. I don't even know what you wedding song was. Would Hugh that we didn't we didn't really have a gay weddings how but I didn't lay a song really for. Her. He Kyle to be which Alan and I. I think. But we do you we have Michael's bond that we we like that's really cool again. May yet what is am I keep coming keep your but I will LT and LTV. Was dishonorably life. There's a Stevie Wonder song that we like because I love you. There's also really cool stimulus our call you and I. A he. Yet we we had lot of Stevie lot of Donny Hathaway just. Need a little a little bit yeah. Here you whether you are living in Atlanta I think can't sit here at how bad it had this week lag bull attacks on air raids on the first time. I'd is not made it absolutely is bound daughter Durbin what do wrapping one. Kids he runs an empire. I've bracket right. A bad. Thing we're actually the best doesn't have counted on the big bets have been. I think right now topic but a melody in the what lyrics right now and I'm exhausted. I got to choose like that I love Whitney I'm so much might once that would be like. Was that may how to dance with somebody like the clock starts. And the sun begins to me. There's still enough time to figure out. Had to chase my blues way. I've done all right soon now is the lack that day that shows me now they'll win the night. My lonely hunk. All that's your world hacked. Whitney and it didn't cave it'll only did it can't. That there was a little Whitney and poetic yet how I think you know I won't know what. Real. Not prior art that Barak five. Thank you so much I think balances and a real bank and good.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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