You know incredibly dope, superfly Lena Waithe, right?
GIF via Paley Center for Media/Tumblr.
The goofy, brilliant, loveable, queer black woman everyone just can’t get enough of?
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images.
Well, the brilliant actress and screenwriter recently made history in a really awesome way.
She’s just become Vanity Fair’s first openly black, lesbian cover star.
With a breakout TV series, a historic Emmy, and a propulsive role in Steven Spielberg's #ReadyPlayerOne, screenwriter-producer-actress @LenaWaithe is re-writing the rules for the next generation. Read the full cover story at the link in bio. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. #VFxLena
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Vanity Fair, one of the world’s most famous high-end magazines, made the excellent decision to feature Waithe on the cover of its April issue.
Naturally, the internet went wild.
A true beauty and game changer in every way!!!! @LenaWaithe @VanityFair https://t.co/ZCUtHwH64A— Viola Davis (@Viola Davis)1521767073.0
THIS. Beautiful and well deserved. Congrats @LenaWaithe! https://t.co/Uaah1sZF2n— Chadwick Boseman (@Chadwick Boseman)1521754457.0
The incredible cover has been lauded by actors, musicians, journalists, and screenwriters alike.
Many are praising new editor-in-chief, Radhika Jones, for using her first Vanity Fair magazine issue to amplify a queer black woman’s story and change the game.
lena waithe! for vanity fair!!! https://t.co/ZTk3KOh4nv https://t.co/KyshEj16r6— daniel taroy (@daniel taroy)1521718932.0
Photographed by the always-iconic Annie Leibovitz, Waithe’s cover is a welcome change to the homogenous, somewhat stuffy narrative that Vanity Fair’s been criticized for in the past.
But Jones is making a very clear statement with this cover: The world of film and art is changing, and readers should take note.
The shoot’s candid photos of everyday life deviate from Vanity Fair’s norm of solely showcasing high-fashion imagery. Considering the magazine’s historical focus on white, heterosexual, cisgender people (for instance, their all-white female cover in 2017), it’s encouraging that Jones is making good on her promise to take the sometimes-exclusionary publication to the next level.
She’s doing so by engaging with the current cultural moment to diversify the ways in which we tell stories — and whose stories get told in the first place.
The honor is certainly well-deserved. Waithe has worked in the industry for more than a decade and recently became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for her incredible “Master of None” episode, “Thanksgiving.”
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW.
But considering the fact that she’s now voicing commercials, producing and writing the beloved television show “The Chi,” and working with Steven Spielberg on a new movie, the actress/screenwriter/producer seems to be just getting started.
Unapologetically black and lesbian, Waithe remains true to herself while also working to lift marginalized voices on her journey to success.
GIF from The Emmys.
While it’s certainly impressive, there’s one star who really wasn’t surprised by Waithe skyrocketing to the top.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay saw Waithe’s talent nearly 10 years ago on the set of one of DuVernay’s first films.
My pal @lizcriolla just pulled this up from November 2009. Me writing about the great @LenaWaithe. Toldja! https://t.co/5JxfLG3HKX— Ava DuVernay (@Ava DuVernay)1521754731.0
Yes, Ms. DuVernay, you did tell us so.
Her tweets are a delightful reminder for anyone who’s working longer hours, having a few sleepless nights, and hustling to mark their mark in the world.
Hard work pays off.
Entering a new industry, taking a chance on a dream, or working towards a degree often takes extra time and energy, but DuVernay reminds us that doing your absolute best (even when it feels like you're at the bottom) pays off.
DuVernay isn’t the first to applaud Waithe for her work ethic, either. Waithe had a long working relationship with “Love & Basketball” director Gina Prince-Bythewood and often discussed the long — usually hilarious — days that gave Waithe some of her most invaluable experience.
“There is nothing I cannot do," she once said. "With a little bit of help, little bit of resources, and little bit of swag, I’m gon' get there."
Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Essence.
In a world that’s constantly challenging everyone to think bigger, work harder, and achieve more, Waithe’s words ring truer than ever. Fighting for your dreams is hard work that often requires long hours, sleepless nights, and sacrifices.
But DuVernay’s words are incredibly motivating for anyone trying to make it.
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.
When you respect others, remain true to yourself, and work hard to listen and learn each day, nothing is impossible.
Lena Waithe taught us that.