Ready Player One Star Lena Waithe’s Vanity Fair Cover Is Groundbreaking


Apr. 19 2018, Published 3:44 a.m. ET

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There is a new era happening at Vanity Fair and they are kicking it off with a bang. Under the helm of new Editor in Chief Radhika Jones, history-making Emmy winner and Ready Player One star Lena Waithe is the cover star. This is definitely setting a tone for a new kind of editorial presence as Waithe is a queer black woman. “When I thought about the kind of person I’d like to see on the cover of Vanity Fair, I thought about Lena Waithe—a member of the new creative elite remaking entertainment for her generation,” Jones wrote.

In the article, written by Jacqueline Woodson, Waithe got extremely honest and blunt about her image in Hollywood and what she is trying to do with her art. Waithe made history last year when she became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Master of None. Laithe also created and executive-produced Showtime’s The Chi“For so many of us who have not seen an out Black lesbian front and center this way, her arrival is a small, long-awaited revelation,” Woodson wrote of Waithe’s role on Master of None.

On her fashion:

“Being black and gay, having dreadlocks, having a certain kind of swag, and dressing the way I do,” she explains, she is sometimes told by certain well-meaning admirers or fashion wannabes, “ ‘That’s dope, you’re cool.’ I don’t feel validated by that. . . . I don’t want to be White. I don’t want to be straight. I don’t want to blend in. . . . I try to wear queer designers who happen to be brown and makin’ shit.”

On her collaborator Aziz Ansari being accused of sexual misconduct:

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“At the end of the day,” Lena says, “what I would hope comes out of this is that we as a society . . . educate ourselves about what consent is—what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. I think there are both men and women who are still trying to figure it out. We need to be more attuned to each other, pay more attention to each other, in every scenario, and really make sure that, whatever it is we’re doing with someone else, they’re comfortable doing whatever that thing is, and that we’re doing it together. That’s just human kindness and decency.”

On her work:

“The hardest thing about being a black writer in this town is having to pitch your black story to white execs,” she says. “Also, most of the time when we go into rooms to pitch, there’s one token black executive that sometimes can be a friend and sometimes can be a foe. I wonder if they think it makes me more comfortable if that makes me think that they’re a woke network or studio because they’ve got that one black exec. It feels patronizing. I’m not against a black exec. I want there to be more of them.”

The cover has gotten a huge and very positive response for both Jones and Waithe. “This VF cover is historic,” tweeted one follower. “This is the @VanityFair I’ve been waiting for — go ahead @radhikajones,” tweeted another. Director Ava Duvernay shared her thoughts on Twitter. 

We welcome this new era at Vanity Fair. Hopefully, other publications will follow suit.

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