This, is when the Internet is at it’s greatest. When you can wake up to a timeline chock-full of people promoting an up-and-coming artist (with no incentive). An artist desperately pursuing something bigger than themselves. Lena Waithe is doing just that. She unveiled her presentation pilot for her hopeful series, “Twenties” and the surrounding buzz is sure to make waves.
“Twenties” is a tale of a few young ladies treading through the horrid, awkward gap between 19 and 30. In the four-part presentation we get to meet Hattie, a charismatic and budding YouTube celeb-aspirant with an empathetic spirit. By listening in on her YouTube sessions, we witness a very opinionated, yet confused young woman. We also hear she’s jobless, spends too much on eating out (Hello somebody!) and oh, when Hattie gets real, we find out she’s in “love with an emotionally damaged, straight woman.” Drama.
Waithe says this is the most personal script she’s written and her most popular, turns out people like honesty. She says she hopes “Twenties” “will show people how much more alike we are when different (Jezebel).” When asked what her inspiration was behind “Twenties,” she honestly credits Lena Dunham (GIRLS), amongst her friends and “an unhealthy relationship.” – “It’s like the tale of two Lenas. This Lena just has a little more of a difficult time to get her show on air.”
Lena also speaks of networks giving her two excuses when shopping her work: that there is no market for these type of shows or there are already too many out there. Way to contradict yourself Hollywood. And it’s not that we don’t see minorities on our television, they just tend to live in extremes.
“There’s very little middle ground. And the truth is that’s where most of us live. Somewhere in the middle.”
In an effort to take steps to diversifying Hollywood into their own hands, Waithe and friends, (along with a many other creatives), have taken to the web to create and garner a fan base. Lena is even the co-creator of The Table Read Initiative, an organization partnered with the Writers Guild of America, West and the Committee of Black Writers that “is designed to create a buzz around some of Hollywood’s most untapped talent – beginning with writers, but also creating opportunities for diverse actors, directors, and producers.”
Creating a platform for her peers with the TRI is a small feat compared to the rest of the writer/producer’s impressive resume. From working on CW’s beloved “Girlfriends” to writing for Nickelodeon, Waithe has stretched her artistry to new levels making sure to never stay boxed in. Though Waithe is no newbie to the industry, with a heavy load of short films and web series under her belt, only recently has she begun to see more mainstream shine, in addition to her justified indie buzz. After her and friend/writer/director Justin Simien dropped the hilarious and venturesome “Dear White People” trailer, “a satire about being a black face in a white place,” new fans and spectators started paying much more attention. I was one of them. The movie, funded through IndieGoGo, not only immediately hit its goal, but surpassed it greatly. And in true Cinderella fashion, Waithe and her crew were able to begin filming DWP their way, without harsh demands or distorted outlines. There’s even set to be a cameo by the misguided, mis-adventured “Awkward Black Girl” herself, Issa Rae. Another shining example of the power we digital natives have.
Lovelies like Waithe and Rae are beacons of hope for the future of minorities in film, and more importantly, I feel good knowing we helped to put them there. Not only are artists of color utilizing the web in a more positive light, but they’re shedding it on the bigger picture. We, the consumers, have the power to decide what we’re sold. I for one would like to see more diversity, more truths and more mirrors for more people.
Waithe wants people to know that “this is not a web series,” and she believes it would be a disservice to keep it there. Sure. Tell that to the “microwave generation” after clip four. The only way to ease that lingering feeling of incompletness is do Waithe’s bidding and share “Twenties” with 20 friends. Take some of that power back, yell loud enough and hope the right network gets the picture.
Watch “Twenties” here (all four clips are no longer than 15 minutes)!