Lena Waithe is the creator of Showtime’s The Chi and co-creator of BET’s upcoming series Boomerang.
The first time I met Donald was at the Creed premiere [in 2015]. He was a fan of Master of None [the Netflix series for which Waithe won a writing Emmy] and said, “I’m working on this show called Atlanta and I really hope people dig it.” And I said, “I’m sure people are going to love it.”
Lo and behold…I remember thinking, “Nothing will ever be the same again.” Donald just gave us permission to be funny, dark, off the beaten path, and be our authentic selves in a way I hadn’t seen before. Atlanta also scared the f— out of me— and if other black artists are being honest, it scared the f— out of them, too — because what Donald did was he said, “I’m going to make something that’s amazing and just also happens to be black.”
I think he really shifted things for people in black Hollywood. And then he hits us with the music element [of Childish Gambino] and “This Is America”; The Lion King, Star Wars, Saturday Night Live — he has created a path where there are no footprints. If you look at [him] from the days of Community and Magic Mike XXL and now, he’s always reinventing himself.
There are so many of us who are afraid to be free, but I think he’s one of the freest people on the planet.
—As told to Patrick Gomez
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