Lena Waithe has seen the rise of prestige projects headed up by black creatives and can't help but wonder why there aren't more of them. In an interview with the New York Times, the producer said that projects like Moonlight and the horror films of Jordan Peele are the result of being too good to be ignored.
“I think black people in this industry are making art that is so specific and unique and good that the studio heads have no choice but to throw money at us,” Waithe said. “They’re saying, ‘How can we support you and stand next to you?’ The tricky part is that they want to be allies and they want to be inclusive, but they also want to make money.”
Waithe said it all comes back to money, calling out black superstar actors by name for failing to spread the wealth and finance smaller projects.
“And don’t get me started on black financiers! How many of those do we have? I’m not [going to name] names because I know better, but there are some very big black movie stars out there, and they could pay for two or three or even five small independent movies to get made by black directors and black writers,” she said.
Waithe went back on her decision not to name names after she pointed out that 12 Years A Slave and Moonlight were both financed by Brad Pitt's production company.
“Wasn’t Denzel [Washington]. Wasn’t Will Smith...You won’t catch me making $20 million a movie and not paying for at least four or five independent movies a year," she said. “I really do feel like there’s a way for us to change the movie business from the inside out, but we’re all in our own silos doing our own thing.”
Twitter users were quick to comment on the shaky ground Waithe was standing on.
Waithe said that she wished she had acted sooner to fix the problems of alleged sexual misconduct on the set of The Chi. She made moves to change the people in positions of power and thought that that would solve the issue, but the problems persisted.
“Not to say that women are exempt from doing things, but I think it would make it a safer environment. That was my assumption,” Waithe explained on The Breakfast Club. “Then I get a call from Ayanna saying things are persisting but not a lot has changed in that area. She told me, ‘You can’t reach out to anybody. You’ve got to sit tight. HR has to handle this.'”
She said that she wished she had handled the situation differently and owned her part in allowing it to continue.