Lena Waithe aka Denise on Netflix's Master of None Talks About Diversity on Television

Lena Waithe first got on my radar when she helped produce the Sundance sensation, Dear White People and now has my full attention as Aziz Ansari's down-to-earth lesbian co-star, Denise in Netflix's Master of None. The 31 year old Chicago native has one of the most impressive resumes that I've seen for someone her age. Her works including, writing for Bones and Nickelodeon's How To Rock, producing Dear White People, Notorious and most recently working with Common to produce a Showtime series about Chicago.

A few year's ago, Lena had a pilot that she wrote called Twenties:
"I had this script that was these three black girls, all 20-somethings, all living in Los Angeles. And people really responded to it. It got a ton of attention... But everybody was afraid to bite. This was really before Empire; Scandal was around, but there was really only room for Shonda [Rhimes]. Everyone was like, 'You’re a young kid, you have a great voice, but is the world really ready for three black hipster girls who aren’t only influenced by black culture?' Once we put this pilot presentation out there, it kind of took on a life of its own.

"Everyone was saying, 'Let’s make Twenties a Web series.' But I just didn’t want to settle for that. There’s nothing wrong with a Web series, but my thing was that for someone to say that Lena Dunham can have a show on HBO about her experiences and what it means to be a 20-something trying to figure out life, why does Lena Waithe have to have a Web series? What is the world trying to say to me with that? I have a voice and I think people want to hear it."
Lena's thoughts on the lack of diversity on TV:
"It’s interesting, there’s a lot of diversity on television. Black people are the It thing now. If you’re black and you have a show idea, you’re going to do well now. But the thing is, though, how many really great black shows are on the air? We don’t have a black Mad Men; we don’t have a black Game of Thrones. To me, lots of people watch Empire, but the question is: Are they watching it for fun or is it because they think they’re getting a look at black experience? The reason I get so excited about Master of None is because it’s showing people of color as regular people. No one is getting shot. Nobody is shooting up. I’m not a rapper." 
Learn more about Lena Waithe in her Vogue Interview.

Make sure to keep up with the amazing moves that Lena Waithe is making by following her on social media, @hillmangrad

* Images taken from Lena Waithe's social media pages.

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