Lena Waithe (‘Master of None’) takes the lead for Netflix comedy: ‘We all got baptized by fire’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Who I become and how I exist in that is sort of how ‘Master of None season three became,” reveals writer and actor Lena Waithe in our recent webchat. She continues, “It was the result of the things that people said were hardships. ‘Because you are a woman, because you are Black, because you are gay, because you were born to a single parent, your life is going to be more difficult. In certain ways they may be correct, but I won’t look at those things as disparaging. I will look at those things as encouraging and inspiring. I get to be a person that belongs to many different groups of people. It enriches my life and makes me a much more empathetic artist.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

The third “Master of None” season for Netflix carries the title “Moments in Love” and is a departure from its previous iterations. Rather than focusing on the character of Dev (Aziz Ansari), these new episodes focus on Denise (Waithe) and her relationship with partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie). Waithe wrote all the episodes with Ansari, who directs the series. She says, “Season one I didn’t write at all. For season two I only co-wrote the Thanksgiving episode with Aziz. And this one, was just Aziz and I, with creator Alan Yang giving us feedback. That was very comfortable for Aziz and I; it’s like passing a football.”

For that Thanksgiving episode, Waithe won the Emmy for Best Comedy Writing with Ansari. She admits, “I felt like I was walking on air. I was 33 years old; it was my Jesus year. I knew it was the beginning of something. It was a milestone in my career, and also in Emmy history to be the first, and still only, Black woman to win that category. The hope is the door is open and I look forward to other women following suit, because there are so many funny Black women writing in television.”

Of her character, Waithe explains, “Denise is someone who’s trying to figure it out. She’s vulnerable and not afraid to embrace her flaws. She can work at being a better friend and partner and daughter. We learn that’s more important to her than trying to be a better writer. Making the show, we weren’t new, but we were new to what we did. It forced us to grow and be vulnerable. Naomi had never been this involved in the creative process. I’m not used to being on screen as much, and for Aziz, it was his first time really directing. We all got baptized by fire.”

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