“I watched a lot of TV as a kid and was obsessed with it,” says Lena Waithe, TV writer, actress and producer, “As I got older, I decided to take it seriously. I studied writing and producing in TV at Columbia College in Chicago and then moved out to L.A. and paid a lot of dues while honing my craft. Eventually, I got staffed, and many years later sold my first show, which is currently in production.”
Want to check out some of her work if you aren’t already familiar? (Where have you been?!)
“Check out The Love Jays on Blavity,” she says, “And watch episode 8 of Master of None, I co-wrote it!”
And for Lena, this career was intended for her from the moment she was born. There was no plan B.
“Work is my favorite activity,” Lena says, “But when I’m not working, I genuinely like watching good TV and going to the movies.”
Her passion for the arts and the industry is clear, seeing as even in her free time she dedicates time to it.
And outside of her own work, Lena is a huge believer in mentorship.
“I think that’s the only way this business is going to change in a real way,” she says.”
Free-time well spent
And if she’s not doing one of those things or participating in a good game night, she says she’s probably “Talking shit and spending quality time with my girlfriend.”
And for someone so busy, quality time with her friends and family is essential but difficult.
“I’m not always good at this,” she says, “My family lives in another state, so I see them when I can, and my friends are like my chosen family. The good thing is my friends are in the business, so I try to work with them as much as I can and I also schedule time with them.”
Even if it takes scheduling in dinner or breakfast with a family to catch up with them, that’s what she’ll do.
And her weekends are for self-care.
“I try to keep my weekends free,” Lena says, “I also try not schedule things in the evening unless it’s absolutely necessary — and most of the time it isn’t.”
One of her favorite ways to treat herself when the stress of the daily grind gets too much is by getting a massage. “That’s my shit,” she says.
On a Daily Basis
Every morning when Lena wakes up, she smiles at her sleeping girlfriend. Then, she gets to work.
“My alarm wakes me up,” she says, “I scroll the ‘gram for a bit. Then I kiss my girlfriend, I shower and figure out what Js I’ll wear that day. Then, I’m off.”
But when she’s getting ready in the morning, her go-to products include a lotion called WHIPPED from her friends’ line Blaine Lorenn. “It’s awesome,” she says, “I also have a great facialist and she gives me my own special face wash and moisturizer. But that’s about it. Nothing too fancy.”
“I usually have a breakfast scheduled with someone,” she says, “Or I have a call on my commute to the writers room. Sometimes I listen to a new album on my way to work.”
And throughout the day, Lena stays motivated by making great things.
“I always want what I’m making to be amazing — so that’s what keeps me going.”
Although she keeps it simple on what products she uses, the one that gets her through the day is a shea butter lip balm.
At night, she’ll use the same face wash and a nighttime moisturizer, have dinner with her girlfriend and watch TV together.
“If it’s her choice, usually reality, if it’s my choice, something really black,” she says.
So if you’re looking to make an impact in the industry and create wonderful things like Lena, take her advice:
“Only do what makes you happy,” she says, “I’m not out here trying to impress anyone. So, the less time I can spend in the bathroom the better. Less is more.”