You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lena Waithe Says ‘The Chi’ Shows a Side of Chicago ‘They Haven’t Seen Before’

Chicago native Lena Waithe, who won an Emmy for her work on “Master of None,” is turning her work to her hometown in Showtime series “The Chi.” The show, which follows interwoven stories of people who live in the South Side of Chicago, features many cast members originally from the Windy City, specifically African-Americans. 

“It’s important for me to tell stories about black folks,” Waithe said at the Wednesday premiere in Los Angeles. “I know how we talk, how we praise, how we love, and for me it was important to show us ourselves and people who don’t know us a side they haven’t seen before.”

Showtime CEO David Nevins added that the Waithe’s portrayal of a community she knew so well would be universal.

“‘Shameless’ is another great Chicago show,” Nevins added. “The fact that it has communities that are usually portrayed in a certain way and she had a different angle on it in that there is sadness and tragedy, but you like all these characters and there is a core optimism was really appealing to me.”

Jason Mitchell, who plays Brandon, said that he was also proud to be part of a series that calls attention to the city’s black population.

“Chicago is a very segregated city and I believe that one half can’t speak for the other half, and that’s something that isn’t spoken about too much,” Mitchell said. “The story just needs to be told by the right people.”

Also serving as executive producer on the show is rapper/actor and fellow Chicago native Common, who spoke about the vibrant soundtrack of the show. “The music really became a character because Chicago has a lot of incredible musicians like Chance the Rapper and Kanye West,” he said. “As much as the city is a character and how we have the characters written, the music is [also] part of the journey of the show and getting a feel of what Chicago is.”

The Chi” premieres on Showtime on Jan. 7 at 10 p.m.

More Scene

  • Atmosphere91st Annual Academy Awards, Governors Ball

    Inside the 2019 Oscar Parties

    Stars party all around Hollywood before, during, and after the Oscars. Here, Variety hits the town to give you the inside scoop on all the star-studded soirées. Keep checking back throughout the weekend for the latest updates… Icon Mann Power 150 Dinner Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, Feb. 21 The Icon Mann Power 150 Dinner and [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content