RBL Celebrates: Lena Waithe, Emmy-winning writer, producer, actor

Lena Waithe

Editor’s Note: The Reel Black List is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of film, TV, advertising, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity daily.

Today we celebrate Lena Waithe.

Lena Waithe is an Emmy-winning writer, producer, actor, and founder of Hillman Grad, a media company created to empower and provide industry access to underrepresented artists and amplify the stories of diverse, historically marginalized communities across all industries.

Known for Master of NoneThe Chi, and Queen & Slim, Lena’s latest credits include the Emmy-nominated documentary film Being Mary Tyler Moore, the 2023 Sundance Film Festival award-winning films A Thousand and One, which received the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and a Gotham Award nomination for ‘Best Feature’, Kokomo City which received the NEXT Audience and NEXT Innovator awards and is a Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominee, and the Tony-nominated play, Ain’t No Mo’.

We welcome Lena Waithe to our 2024 Reel Black List!

Who were your mentors?
Mara Brock Akil
Gina Prince-Bythewood & Reggie Rock Bythewood 
Ava DuVernay 

Bravest thing you’ve done?
Believed in myself.

How do you handle failure?
I think when things don’t work out the way you thought you would is an opportunity to learn. You learn something about yourself, and you learn how to approach the situation differently in the future, so in essence I try to embrace it because there’s nothing lost, only gains.

When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?
I hang out with friends and people I can learn from. Or I watch creations by other people. 

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