Lena Waithe, Common Talk ‘The Chi,’ Cultural Change and the New Black Renaissance

Variety | 3/10/2018 | Diane Gordon
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The entertainment industry is in the midst of a cultural transformation that is driving a new renaissance for African-American artists, Lena Waithe and others observed Friday night during a panel session for Waithe’s Showtime drama “The Chi.”

Waithe recalled writing the drama’s pilot script two years ago.

Chicago - Cops - City - Cops

“I wanted to talk about Chicago, not about cops who patrol the city but about those who are patrolled by cops,” she said.

Common recalled hearing good buzz about the script, originally titled “Chi-rac.”

Ways - Humanity - Lena - Story - Let

“I read it and it was one of the most poetic ways to get into black humanity. It was not stereotypical. Lena’s story let people know us as human beings,” he said. Common came up with the title “The Chi.”

Describing the challenge of crafting the first season, Waithe said, “You’re a group of people trying to figure out who you want to be, trying to make one thing.” As for season two, Waithe would only reveal, “It’s gonna be blacker and more authentic” with new showrunner Ayanna Floyd Davis at the helm.

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The importance of representation in media was also discussed as Waithe and Mitchell remembered watching black actors on TV when they were young. Mitchell recalled, “Imagine if you’re nine years old and you see yourself on TV – it’s important to see that reflection.” Waithe agreed.

“I watched TV all the time. I felt so close to the black people on TV: Whitley Gilbert (“A Diff’rent World,) Fresh Prince, Martin, those people were important to me as I learned what my reflection was,” she said.

Common - Observation - Brings - Walls - Racism

Common offered an eloquent observation: “Storytelling brings down walls of racism. ‘The Chi’ shows the humanity...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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