Lena Waithe is constantly bringing visibility to what a ‘Black gay girl’ looks like, whether she’s on the Met Gala red carpet sporting a Carolina Herrera rainbow cape or smirking at her detractors on the cover of Vanity Fair. And while she doesn’t rely on just her physical appearance to be the change the entertainment world needs to see, often speaking out in her acceptance speeches and encouraging her LGBTQ+ family to embrace who they are, on Saturday’s taping of the MTV Movie Awards, Waithe took the opportunity to honor another groundbreaking Black woman.
Waithe walked the red carpet with her fiancée Alana Mayo wearing a custom print Alba jacket, black pants, a pair of sneakers, and a hoodie featuring an image of Shirley Chisholm that her stylist, Tiff Hasbourne, made for the occasion. Chisholm was the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress (she represented Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn), and the first woman — Black or otherwise — to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. During her time as a politician, educator, and author, Chisholm used her position of power to help disenfranchised people, including fighting for equal rights for women and the LGBTQ+ community.
“Ms. Chisholm did not earn the democratic party’s nomination in 1972, but she did earn a place in history, along with the boundless respect of millions of Americans for her fundamental refusal to live life within the confines of society’s expectations,” senior advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett said in 2014. The statement rings true years later, and is one that can also be applied to the work Waithe is doing to champion people of color.
The creator of Showtime’s The Chi is being honored at MTV’s award show celebrating film and TV with the Trailblazer Award, recognizing her work as a content creator who introduces new and unique voices within the entertainment industry.