BLACK VOICES

Lena Waithe On The Value Of Connecting With Other Black People Early In Her Career

"The Chi" creator recounted an experience she had as an assistant in the early days of her career, during a segment on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Lena Waithe recently shared some of what it was like working as an assistant in her early career days, with one major takeaway from the experience: Make connections with “somebody that knows what it means to be black and with a dream.”

During a segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, “The Chi” creator recounted the time she worked as an assistant for “Love & Basketball” director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who once tasked her with getting “Whoopi Goldberg on the phone.”

“It was like the black version of ‘Devil Wears Prada,’” Waithe said, after calling Prince-Bythewood her “hero” and “role model.” 

Waithe then recounted the long series of events that she said took place after her initial attempt to get in touch with Goldberg.

The “Boomerang” executive producer said she was hung up on by a few phone operators at various companies throughout the entire ordeal until she made connections with people who she believed to be African-American. 

Waithe said she was able to relate to black representatives by sharing that she worked for the director for 2000 “Love & Basketball” film, which starred Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. She was ultimately successful in getting Goldberg on the phone after connecting with a representative at “The View,” she said. 

“Can you connect me to a black person that works at ‘The View’?” Waithe recalled saying on the phone at one point. 

“Now what is the lesson that we learn from this story?” host Jimmy Kimmel asked. 

“That you need to get connected to the black person,” Waithe responded with a laugh. “Get me somebody that knows what it means to be black and with a dream trying to find your way to freedom.” 

Waithe, who was recently named an agent of change by The Hollywood Reporter, is the creator and writer of a forthcoming TV series titled “Twenties,” which recently received an eight-episode order on BET.

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