Lena Waithe is passionate about television and film, so it’s no wonder the 35-year-old had a lot to say about black indie films, particularly the lack of financial support
The Chi creator sat with The New York Times to discuss her upcoming project Queen & Slim. Directed by Melina Matsoukas and starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, Waithe noted had Moonlight and Get Out not been successful, this forthcoming drama wouldn’t have been backed by a major studio.
Yet Waithe said she wishes black indie films could depend on black movie stars.
“Don’t get me started on black financiers! How many of those do we have? I’m not [going to name] names because I know better, but there are some very big black movie stars out there, and they could pay for two or three or even five small independent movies to get made by black directors and black writers,” Waithe said.
Had it not been for Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight nor Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave wouldn’t have been made, and for Waithe, that’s a problem.
“Wasn’t Denzel. Wasn’t Will Smith. You won’t catch me making $20 million a movie and not paying for at least four or five independent movies a year. I do give credit to Ava [DuVernay] for trying to build something that hasn’t been built before, but that’s a lot on Ava’s back,” Waithe lamented.
“I’m over here trying to build a community, and I don’t see other people doing it. I really do feel like there’s a way for us to change the movie business from the inside out, but we’re all in our own silos doing our own thing.”
Waithe’s statements were published on the same day Washington received the 47th AFI Lifetime Achievement award, where he was honored by his peers including Morgan Freeman and Inside Man co-star Jodie Foster.
Her comments merited mixed reactions online.
Lena Waithe is getting on my nerves. When she needed to speak up, she stayed quiet but now she's opening her big mouth to disrespect those who have been doing the work long before anyone knew of her. pic.twitter.com/xBMTJQb6sU
— Joss Whedon hate account (@Maya86B) June 22, 2019
Waithe has responded to any comments.