Lena Waithe (born May 17, 1984) is an American screenwriter, producer, and actress. She’s from Chicago, Illinois and was raised by her single mother and grandmother. Waithe always knew she would be a television writer growing up, but surprised herself by also becoming a successful actress. She co-wrote the episode Thanksgiving for the 2015 Netflix series, Master of None with Aziz Ansari. The episode earned herself and Ansari an Emmy in 2017. She was cast as Denise, a character originally written as a straight, white woman. Waithe plays a gay, black woman in the show and describes the episode Thanksgiving as being based on her own coming-out story as a lesbian.
Other notable career ventures include writing for the Fox television series Bones, and Nickelodeon’s sitcom How to Rock, and producing the film Dear White People in 2014. Waithe also wrote and appeared in the YouTube series Twenties and wrote and directed the short film Save Me.