Awards Season Beyond Bravo

Lena Waithe Makes History for Writing an Episode Based on Her Real Coming Out Story

The Master of None actress won big at the Emmys, and delivered an inspiring speech. 

Master of None's Lena Waithe just became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for co-writing the  Season 2 episode "Thanksgiving" with star and co-creator Aziz Ansari. The emotional episode was based on Waithe's real coming out story, which takes place over several years of family Thanksgiving dinners as her character works towards opening up to her family about her sexuality. "I’ve never been prouder of a thing than I am of that episode of television,” she told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. 

She and Ansari each sported tuxedos at the show, but when it came time to take the stage to accept their award, Waithe spoke for them both.

Lena Waithe after her win at the 2017 Emmy Awards

She thanked her girlfriend, who she said she "loves more than life itself," and had a special message for her LGBTQIA (an inclusive acronym which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community, which she called "family."

"I see each and every one of you," she said. "The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day, when you walk out the door, throw on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is without us in it... thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South side of Chicago — we appreciate it more than you could ever know."

Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari in Master of None. Photo: Netflix

Waithe feels very close to her character on the show. “She’s a heightened version of me,” she previously told Entertainment Weekly when the series premiered in 2015. “I don’t think they ever intended her to be African-American. They definitely didn’t intend for her to be gay. But when Aziz met me, he was like, ‘I like what I’m seeing and I want to make the character a little more like you.’ They were really cool and went back and rewrote the character to reflect more of my personality, which was amazing.”

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