Lena Waithe can't help but write a little bit of herself into her characters.
"I can't not. Yes, I'm the vessel, but because I am, some of me is going to get in there," she told The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb earlier this month. "I do try and let the characters speak through me, but it's also therapy for me. A place for me to work out my stuff. My favorite artists are the ones that you can see them in their work. You know what that person's trauma is because it keeps popping up."
That exploration of her own trauma through her characters has served the multi-hyphenate, who cut her teeth writing for shows like Bones and Nickelodeon's How to Rock, well. It helped her become the first Black-American woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017 for "Thanksgiving," the highly personal season two episode of Netflix's Master of None that was based on her own coming out experience. It helped land her a series order from Showtime for The Chi, a drama that brings to life her experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago that will return for a third season next year.
And it's what's rippling through every page of the script for Queen & Slim, her first feature film as screenwriter.