Out actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe appeared on the cover of April 2018’s Vanity Fair.
In her cover story, the Ready Player One star and The Chi producer spoke candidly about being a queer women of color in Hollywood.
“The hardest thing about being a black writer is having to pitch your black story to white execs,” Waithe admitted.
Being black and queer doesn’t make things any easier: “I am tired of white folks telling my stories. We gotta tell our shit. Can’t no one tell a black story, particularly a queer story, the way I can, because I see the God in us.”
Haters will say it’s photoshopped. But for real. This is a moment I will never forget. I am overflowing with gratitude. Thank you, @radhikajones, for choosing me to be your first cover girl. Thank you, #Annie, for capturing me so beautifully and honestly. Last but not least – thank you @jacqueline_woodson, for being my kindred spirit and for your eloquent words. #LetsBlackPantherThisIssue #ImCountingOnMyPlayCousinsToBuyMultipleCopies Super grateful to my glam team as well: @rebekahaladdin & @savvystarbeauty with the light beat. And @lovingyourhair got the locs looking right!
Now, the Emmy-winning screenwriter is looking to pay it forward.
“I have a ton of mentees,” she said. “They’re all people of color. Some of them are poor. And I’m just trying to help them learn how to be great writers; and for those that have become really good writers, I help them get representation; and those that have representation, I want to help get them jobs… Activism is me paying for a writer to go to a television-writing class.”
LGBT advocates say Waithe’s Vanity Fair cover is breaking ground for media portrayals of black queer women.
“Waithe’s cover is one of those watershed moments for queer culture, and for queer women of color in particular,” writes Chardine Taylor-Stone for Gay Times. “Black lesbians’ lives are invisible. Ask yourself, how many out black lesbians can you name who have a high public profile like Waithe’s?”
— Lena Waithe (@LenaWaithe) March 22, 2018
Waithe herself was blown away by the opportunity: “This is a moment I will never forget,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am overflowing with gratitude.”