Actor and writer Lena Waithe says she didn’t have a Plan B if she didn’t make it in the entertainment industry. She probably won’t have to worry about that, with an impressive resume under her belt, including creating the acclaimed Showtime series “The Chi,” and becoming the first black woman to win the outstanding writing for a comedy series Emmy for Netflix’s “Master of None.” But Waithe says such a go-big-or-go-home attitude is part of that success.
“If it just didn’t work out, I don’t know where I’d be, to be honest with you,” Waithe says. “But I think that’s what one has to have in order to do this, because you have to be obsessed or else it’s too easy to get knocked down, and say, ‘Forget this, I’m out.'”
She listed playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Oprah Winfrey, and Mary Tyler Moore as among the women who inspire her. Waithe says Hansberry wrote powerful, unapologetic work and didn’t care how it was going to be received. Similarly, her own “mission is to try to always be in that space of making work that is honest and true and good to me. And if people like it, great, if not, at least I got it out,” Waithe says.
Overall, Waithe encourages young women in the industry to care less about public perception and stay true to their authentic selves.
“Stop giving a s— what other people think of you. We make decisions too often based on that,” Waithe says. “When we start to live for ourselves, and be a little bit more selfish, I think we’ll lead more fulfilling lives. So I think what we need to do, is stare at ourselves in the mirror a little bit longer, and really own who we are and not try to be what we think others want us to be.”