Transcript for Lena Waithe talks LGBT representation in Hollywood, 'Ready Player One' and 'The Chi'
First of all, congratulations. Thank you so much. And thank you for being the first. Sorry, but I'm thrilled that we waited for you. Oh, thank you. Thank you. No knock on anybody but I'm thrilled that it was you because I love your writing. I think you're funny and smart. Thank you so much. But you said that this was a huge win, but you said it was bigger. Yeah, it was interesting because I remember watching a very memorable oscars that you were hosting when Halle berry broke that door. So interesting because no one's followed her since which is really unfortunate. But I remember watching that speech and her making it about everyone. She paid homage. To me, I know I'm not the first black woman to write a funny script. I just think that the business -- the stars had to align and I think I had been the vessel so I wanted to make sure I shared that moment with people like Yvette Lee bouser. They've been doing it. They've been beating these doors so long and when I came up I just had to push it with a finger and walk through. Timing. Yeah. One of your first jobs was working as the assistant director to Gina prince blythewood who directed one of my favorite movies and she gave you a task that involved whoopi. Yes, she did. My first week, wind working with Gina. I was her personal assistant. My first week, I'm at the house, the big house, and she's like, get whoopi Goldberg on the phone. I'm like, cool, where's the number, who you want me to dial, the cell or whatever. So I'm like, here we are, it's the black "Devil wears Prada." So I called "The view." I got a security person on the phone and hung up on me and rightfully so because if I person says I need to get to whoopi Goldberg, of course they're going to hang up. So I called back a couple times and tried to get a black person so they can tell I'm black. I finally got someone, I was like, I can tell you're a brother. I'm your sister. I need to you do this so I can keep my job. He's like, she don't have a cell phone but I can get you to this person. I called that person. The person who answered the phone was a guy. He was like, okay, let me call you back. I said okay, so I sat there in the office and I waited. The phone rang. He said I got whoopi. I said perfect, I got Gina. They're connected, boom, boom. But I was sweating. I'm like, oh, man, I'm a young black girl from Chicago trying to get whoopi Goldberg on the phone. But thank you. We got it done. Yes, we did. But what is the thing you want people to know about that story? You can't give up. You got to use whatever you got, you know. And persist. Yeah. Persist. You got to be persistent. It's a very important lesson that people think is just T talent. You got to be humble. You got to figure it out. Once I figured that out I was like, I can get anything done. I got whoopi Goldberg on the phone with no number. Let's talk about the essence of black women in Hollywood award. You were honored and in the speech you said being born gay, black and female is not a revolutionary act but being proud to be a gay black female is. Tell us what you mean. Elaborate. I think it's very interesting and here's my real truth. If you think about Hollywood, there's a lot of people in Hollywood. How many black people there are in Hollywood, it's a nice little number, especially we're growing now. Think about how many out gay black people there are in Hollywood. Not a lot. Probably you can count them on your -- one or two hands. The numbers don't add up. I think what's happening is -- You mean it's not -- it's a term that there are more gay people in the country and it's not relative to this. In terms of people of color. It's like me, Wanda, Titus. A lot of us don't want to be public about it. They're like, well, it's my private life. But honestly, we have to be a bit of a beacon of light for those young kids of color who are wondering am I weird, do I have something wrong with me, what quality of life might I have. So for me, I mean, I don't even think of what I'm doing as revolutionary. I don't know how to not be gay as hell or black as hell. That's just who I am. But I think there's an element to some people that figure, well, I don't want to ostracize anybody. Or I don't want to be cast as gay. I love it. I made a wonderful career being cast as a lesbian. Oddly enough, me too. It's great to have allies but honestly, I'm jt kind of over it a little bit. I think my thing is like I want to be here to hold somebody's hand and be supportive because the more of us there are the more -- also for black folks in the community to see because black folks like me. They're like Lena is great. If your niece or nephew or daughter or son, we're made up of the same stuff. We got to talk about this because you are now the creator and executive producer of the showtime series, the chi. It's wonderful. It's about life in Chicago, the city where you grew up. What do you hope people will take away from watching this fantastic series? You know, that black people are no longer three-fifths of human beings, that we are -- Well, they never were. Exactly. But some people forget that we wake up in the morning, we raise our kids, try to get to church when we can and be good, contributing members of society. We rarely see black folks just contemplating, living, being. I really wanted to show that, just living every day life. Yes, I don't shy away from the complexities in Chicago. I understand that we have our issues and I show that. But I also want to show the aftermath of that. I wasn't interested in showing the police but people who were being policed and I wanted to show what the community looks like. The community I grew up in Chicago was very much a village. We policed ourselves. You've done a very good job of doing that. Thank you so much. So now -- go ahead, joy. Well, we were talking about timing before. You wrote the show, chi, when Obama was president but it didn't air until trump. What do you think about that? Is that good or bad? I think it's good. I think it's really good. Look, I was reading a lot of James Baldwin at the time and the way he told our stories and really saw the god in black people and I really was inspired by that so I wanted to do it. And then by the time the show came out we had trump in office who was definitely using Chicago as a pawn in his political game. I'm happy that people can see Chicago in a new light. Yeah, they just talk about it as if it's constant gangs and violence. That's red meat. That's red meat for a group of people who don't know better but they will because they'll watch the show. But now, you are -- you are in Steven -- starring in Steven spielbe Spielberg's new film, ready player one. It premiered at south by southwest to rave reviews. Yeah, they liked it. How could you not? How could you not? You know, did you find him extraordinary to work with, quickly? Man, look, he's a giant that doesn't make people feel small. He's a jewish father I never knew I needed. And there you have it. You have to come back. You have to come back. I will, happily. Please do. The season finale of "The chi" is this Sunday on showtime. "Ready player one" baby is going to be in theaters in imax on March 29th. Go see it. It is one of the fine things you
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