“If your studio hasn’t greenlit enough projects brought in by underrepresented communities — everything gets shut down.”
Lena Waithe is calling for Hollywood to be more inclusive and to pay up if it isn’t.
In an essay for Variety, the producer-screenwriter-actor said she believes there should be directives for studios to reflect the lives of marginalized people as “Hollywood is nothing if not a mirror of America.”
“The studios, networks and streamers all need to live by new rules, and if they don’t live by them, there need to be financial repercussions,” the 36-year-old Emmy winner explained.
“The studios need to greenlight a certain number of projects from Black people, brown people, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities.”
“If your studio hasn’t greenlit enough projects brought in by underrepresented communities — everything gets shut down,” she continued. “You can’t go into production on anything. That’s how serious this situation is.”
Waithe went on to say that even with her and other Black entertainers’ accomplishments in Hollywood, there is more work to be done so the “country can live up to its promise.”
“I think some people look at the progress we’ve made and think there’s not much left to do. But what people have to understand is that for every Black show we have, there are a million white shows just like it.”
She argued that a BET show has never been nominated for an Emmy and that “Black and brown people are often left off” the lists for awards.
“We’re never a part of the conversation or roundtables. And when we are there — there’s usually only one or two of us.”
Acknowledging the change may take some time, Waithe pointed to desegregation as an example.
“There were new civil rights laws written [in the mid-1960s] that allowed people to live differently,” she wrote. “If there was no law and if integration was not enforced, it would probably still exist today.”
“Just like MLK said: ‘Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor — it must be demanded by the oppressed.'”
Waithe ended the essay by saying the recent attention to racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder is “lip service,” but “part of it really does have good intentions.”
“Unless we change the laws and change the rules of this industry and this country — history will continue to repeat itself again and again and again.”
Waithe wrote the upcoming drama, “Beauty,” and can be seen in the new season of “The Chi.”
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