Newly appointed Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones picked Lena Waithe — the Emmy-winning, black, lesbian writer, actor and producer whose career has recently exploded — as her first cover story, appearing in the magazine’s April issue. The Lena Waithe cover story is groundbreaking; it’s the first time a queer woman of color has ever been on the magazine’s cover.
In an in-depth profile written by queer black writer Jacqueline Woodson and photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the Master of None actress discussed influences on her work, Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement, her fiancée and her own efforts to boost representation of queer folks and people of color in the media.
Here are 5 important things we learned from the Lena Waithe cover story:
1. Waithe got her start taking out the trash on the set of an Ava DuVernay film.
Waithe got her start as a production assistant on the set of Ava DuVernay’s directorial debut I Will Follow. “She would make the coffee,” DuVernay says. “She would close the gate; she would take out the trash; she would run things from one part of the set to another.”
2. There’s already been a lesbian version of Moonlight most people haven’t seen.
When asked if Waithe thinks we’ll ever have a lesbian Moonlight, she refers to Pariah, Dee Rees’s 2011 feature film about a young black lesbian coming out. “I fuck with that movie really hard. I thought it was really beautiful,” she says.
3. Waithe wants all of closeted Hollywood to ‘come out.’
At an event, Waithe spoke about the importance of coming out in Hollywood and explained it through her love of a favorite film, The Wizard of Oz. “There’s this moment in the movie,” she says, “when Dorothy’s presence interrupts the peace in Oz, which forces all the Munchkins to go run and hide. So Glinda the Good Witch tells them … to stop hiding. She tells them to come out: ‘Come out, wherever you are. Don’t be afraid.’ It’s interesting how things you hear as a kid take on a whole new meaning when you are an adult.”
4. She’s engaged to another Hollywood power player.
Waithe’s fiancée, Alana Mayo, is the head of production and development for Michael B. Jordan’s media company. Mayo says she long admired Jordan’s taste, talent and ambition: “I share his passion for great storytelling, empowering creators and bringing fresh and unique points of view to the forefront.”
5. Waithe thinks we need to have a conversation about consent.
When asked about the allegations of sexual harassment made against her friend and co-star Aziz Ansari, she responds, “At the end of the day, what I would hope comes out of this is that we as a society … educate ourselves about what consent is — what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. I think there are both men and women who are still trying to figure it out.”
What do you think of Vanity Fair‘s Lena Waithe cover story? Sound off in the comments below and on Facebook.
Photos by Annie Leibovitz