MAY 17: Lena Waithe (1984-)


Happy birthday to actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe!! If you haven’t seen her in the Netflix series Master of None, it’s time to add it to
your summer watch list.


Lena is currently working on a yet-to-be-announced drama series for Showtime that will be set in her hometown of South Side Chicago (x). 

Born on this day in 1984, Lena grew up in Chicago, Illinois and
was raised by her mother and grandmother. She has had her sights set on
becoming a television writer ever since she was seven-years-old. After
graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2006, one of Lena’s first gigs was
writing for the Fox television series Bones; she was
also a producer on the 2014 film Dear
White People
and the creator of the 2011 viral video “Shit Black Girls Say.”

Lena’s first big acting gig was on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix
series Master of None in 2015. Although her
character Denise was originally written for a straight white woman who was to
be one of the show’s main love interests, the head writers and producers
completely flipped the script after meeting Lena for the first time and changed the character of Denise to be a black
lesbian. Lena wrote the breakout “Thanksgiving” episode of the second season of
Master of None (it just hit Netflix last week!), which centers the character of
Denise and the experience of coming out of the closet in a black family. On the
topic of representation, Lena says: “I don’t know if we’ve seen a sly, harem
pants-wearing, cool Topshop sweatshirt-wearing, snapback hat-rocking lesbian on
TV…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.”