Lena Waithe on Her Met Gala Cape, the Trevor Project, and the Time’s Up Movement

"They're doing God's work," Waite says of the suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.

In the year since she made history as the first woman of color to take home an Emmy for writing for a comedy series, Lena Waithe has consistently used her superstar platform to champion LGBTQ visibility and acceptance. In a recent interview for Variety’s annual Power of Women issue, Waithe reflected on the changing culture in Hollywood and the importance of using her voice to effect change.

“I started to get a lot of freedom post-Emmy, and it’s something I don’t take for granted,” Waithe said. “I’ve been very mindful of that privilege, and making sure that I’m doing the best writing I can be doing so that privilege isn’t taken away. I think once next year comes, people will get a better sense of who I am, not just as an artist, as a writer, but who I am as a human, and the kind of work I’m going to put out into the world.”

Who Waithe is as a person is someone who shines a spotlight on LGBTQ suicide prevention nonprofit, The Trevor Project.

“They’re doing God’s work. They’re literally saving lives. How many people can you say go to work and it’s their job to tell someone, ’You’re beautiful, you’re amazing, the world needs you, don’t take yourself away from the world’?”

Waite told the outlet fundraising to help the organization pay for counselors has become a passion project.

“We still are looked down upon because of how we are born,” she said. “And I don’t ever want anyone to ever feel like their lives aren’t as valued as anyone else’s.”

Earlier this year, Waithe broke the internet when she attended the Met Gala in a rainbow cape designed by Carolina Herrera.

“I wanted to bring my community with me to that place, because I know what that invitation means, and I wanted us all to be there and we got to be, for a night,” Waite said. I’m grateful that people embraced it and it meant something to so many people. Because I’ll never forget it. Ever.”

And as the anniversary of the Time’s Up initiative approaches, the 34-year-old entertainer says change is finally coming to Hollywood.

“It feels like the patriarchy is nervous, and that’s good,” she said. “The powerful are not just white straight men anymore. They are a black tattooed gay girl from South Chicago.”

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan.
@dirrtykingofpop