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Lena Waithe Opens Up About ‘Master of None’ Thanksgiving Episode at Sublime Primetime

Kicking off Emmys weekend, the WGAW, the Writers Guild Foundation and Variety hosted a panel of nominated writers at the Writers Guild Theater Friday night. Writing from experience wove a common thread among panelists, which included writing talent from top drama, comedy and variety series.

“We’re always thinking of what we can pull from our lives,” said “Master of None” writer and co-star Lena Waithe. She earned a nom (the first black woman to do so in the comedy writing category) for the Netflix comedy’s acclaimed “Thanksgiving” episode, which was inspired by her own coming out story.

“I wanted to convey that coming out isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a process,” she said of the emotional episode, adding that she never thought she’d bring the story to TV. “Aziz thought it was important and didn’t think we’d seen it before. That’s always his test — ‘Have we seen this before?’ — and we hadn’t.”

The Duffer brothers, creators of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” followed a similar beat. Many details, particularly within the younger roles, are drawn from the duo’s ‘80s upbringing.

“A lot of [“Stranger Things”] is based on our childhood. We wrote the first scene — the kids playing Dungeons & Dragons — in a couple minutes,” said Matt Duffer. “It wasn’t a struggle, and I’ve realized that when it’s difficult something is wrong.”

Waithe and the Duffer Brothers were joined on the panel, moderated by Larry Wilmore, by fellow nominees Steven Davis and Kelvin Yu (“Bob’s Burgers”), Gordon Smith (“Better Call Saul”) and Jo Miller (“Full Frontal”). Davis and Yu took home an award at the Creative Arts Emmys for outstanding animated program.

The 69th Annual Emmy Awards airs Sept. 17 on CBS.

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