Update: It’s official: Master Of None breakout star Lena Waithe has made history. The Netflix writer-star is the first-ever black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding comedy writing. Waithe won the landmark award for Master Of None’s season 2 standout episode “Thanksgiving.” The memorable (and semi-autobiographical) installment co-starred Angela Bassett at Waithe’s TV mom Catherine. Throughout the flashback-heavy "Thanksgiving," Waithe’s character Denise deals with coming out as a lesbian, or a “Lebanese” person, as she puts it as a young teen to avoid labels, to both her family and close friends like Dev (creator-star Aziz Ansari).
“I see each and everyone one of you,” Waithe said to her LGBTQIA family while accepting the Outstanding Writing award. “The things that make us different, those are our super powers. Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape, and go out there and conquer the world. Because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it. And for everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer Black girl from the South Side of Chicago.”
Waithe also gave a shout out to her real-life mom for letting her put “Thanksgiving” out there, saying, “I want to thank my mother for inspiring this story and allowing me to share it with the world. I love you, mom.”
This post was originally published August 5, at 3 p.m.
During the annual Television Critics Association summer press tour, writer and Master of None star and writer Lena Waithe got candid.
After getting an Emmy nomination for writing the fan favorite "Thanksgiving" episode of the second season of Master of None, she was made aware that she was the first African-American woman ever to be given the nod.
"I didn't know I was the first black woman [to be nominated] until people were saying that and saying it to me and I was like, 'Is that true?'" she said, as noted by TV Guide, during the TCA’s Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Trend on TV panel event.
"The first woman of color was Mindy Kaling, I think that was for an episode of The Office she wrote. And I'm the first African-American woman. And to be in 2017, it speaks to where we are in terms of, I think we're making progress in our industry, but I think what this says to me is we still have a lot of work to do. And I'm fighting to make sure it happens," she explained according to TV Guide.
Sadly it’s no surprise that when it comes to diversity — of race, gender and LGBTQ issues — Hollywood moves at a glacial pace. And often, when diverse stories are shifted from the page to the silver screen, the final product can feel feigned if not, forced. "What I don't like is when gay characters are used as props," Waithe explained. "We're not furniture, we're not there to jazz things up," she continued.
Hear the rest of the interview below and tune into (or stream) the Emmy Awards on September 17 on CBS.