Congratulations are in order for Lena Waithe, a writer and producer whose name a lot of you will already know, having produced content for film, TV and the web, most recently, making her debut as a film producer with the crowd-pleasing, critically-acclaimed independent feature, "Dear White People."
Waithe has inked a deal with the BET network to write a pilot script based on a personal project titled "Twenties," which follows the trials and triumphs of the lives of 3 black women in their twenties - hence the title.
It's a project we profiled on this blog about a year ago, which Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit shingle has long been attached to produce. Finding a network where it would be housed had been a struggle, until now. As Waithe told us in an interview in August 2013: "A lot of networks read the script and loved it, but they either thought there wasn’t an audience for it or that it already existed. Of course I became extremely frustrated because I knew neither of those things were true. So I realized I had to show these network executives that "Twenties" was one of a kind and that there was nothing on TV like it. And I figured the best way to do that was to shoot a pilot presentation, which meant we would shoot a few pivotal scenes from the script, edit them together, and give people a sense of how the show would look and feel. Lucky for me, Justin Simien (writer/director "Dear White People") offered to direct it and Flavor Unit was willing to pay for it. Now I had the opportunity to show people what I was going for instead of trying to explain it to them. My plan wasn’t just to show it to executives, but to show it to the world so that the people could have a voice in this as well. And just so we’re clear: this is not a web series! I repeat this is not a web series. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing a web series. I’ve done one. My goal is to partner with a network that understands what I’m going for."
Indeed. And finding a partner in BET is what she's now been able to do, as the network continues to transition into a more adult-centric entertainment platform, given its recent original scripted drama, mini-series and feature film content push over the last couple of years.
Named by Variety as 1 of its 10 Comedians to Watch in 2014, Waithe is certainly off to an auspicious start to a year which began with a successful premiere of a feature film she produced ("Dear White People") at the most prestigious festival in the land, where it won a top award, and was eventually picked up for theatrical distribution, set for later this year.
Today's news is a welcomed follow-up.