Lena Waithe was named one of Variety’s 10 comics to watch in 2014. She’s also a producer of films like the Sundance hit “Dear White People,” and of a new drama series about her native Chicago, coming to Showtime.
Right now, you can see her on Netflix playing Aziz Ansari’s wisest pal Denise, in the series “Master of None,” which was just renewed for a second season. During our live show at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on January 28, she shared the tale of how she and her now-girlfriend fell in love. Lena also chatted with Rico and Brendan after to explain how this story helped her nab her role on “Master of None.”
Lena Waithe: An important thing to know, first and foremost is: she was a heterosexual person.
OK, so, we met initially at a general meeting. The general meeting was very general, it was awesome, it was good and I realized like, “Oh, she’s cute.” I made a mental note of that. So, then, after the general meeting, we would like bump into each other here and there. Like, went to Sundance, she was at the screening, she came to the party, and I was like, “Hey, what up? What’s going on?” She’s like, “Hey! OK, cool.” But again, just mental note of the cuteness. Then, I’m like, she’s a straight person, lesbians don’t “turn” people; we don’t do that.
So we just kept bumping into each other. She actually invited me to her 30th birthday party. I couldn’t go, ’cause I had to go to Mexico to watch two white people get married. So I missed that. So, then we bumped into each other at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party. It was, like, really dope. There was a block party, there was a lot of graffiti on the walls, very black. It was very “School Daze”-esque.
So it was a lot of dancing, and so she and I, you know, we engage in a dance. It was like, you know, she was in front of me, and I was dancing behind her. I was like, “This is nice. Dancing. Cool. You’re very cute.”
So she’s next to me, and she goes, “You know, we should hang out sometime. We should hang out.” And I was like, “Yeah, we should!” But I had zero intention of hanging out with her, though. It was like — it was very Hollywood-speak. I was just like, “OK, cool.” Cut to: I’m in my office at “Bones” — I used to write on “Bones.” It’s a long story. I wrote an episode about, like a lesbian psychic and she got killed, whatever. You’ll catch it.
Anywho, so I’m in my office, I’m, like, chillin’. It was a Monday and I get an email from her, and it’s literally the best email I’ve ever gotten. That’s probably because it changed my life. But it’s an email that said: “Hey! Great running into you on Friday. I know life is busy, but let me know when you’re avail.” She didn’t even finish. She didn’t even say the whole word “available.” It was, like, sweet, and short, but kind of stern, and, like, “You’re gonna hang out with me.” It was very alpha and kind of cool.
So I was, like, “OK, cool.” So, I hit her back and go, “Yeah, cool. Let’s do Friday. I got a hard out at 9.” So she’s like, “OK… cool. Let’s do The Mercantile.” May The Mercantile rest in peace. It used to be on Sunset. [Crowd mourns along with Lena.] I know, right? Come on, hipsters!
So, cut to: my ass shows up late to the thing and I’m like, “Hey! Sorry I’m late.” And I sit down, and I’m like, you know, I’m thinking this is a business drink, so I start going through my whole thing. So, I’m like, “Yeah, writing I’m writing on ‘Bones’ right now, that’s happening. ‘Dear White People’ did very well. You know, that’s awesome. I’m very happy about that.” Then she goes, “OK, that’s fine, but what do you like to for fun?” And then, we just started talking about, life and family and, like, just everything. And I was like, literally sitting looking at her, like, “If you were a lesbian, this would be like the best date I’ve ever been on. Like, truly.”
So, while we’re talking, this waitress comes over and is like, pouring her this drink of red wine, and she’s loving it. “It’s really good.I love having a glass of red wine while I read scripts and stuff.” And I was like, “This is cool. OK, the lady’s pouring the wine, it’s really cool.” ‘Cause I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t play with the devil’s nectar. So I’m just there like watching, observing.
Of course the hard out goes away, like 8:30 and she goes, “Don’t you have a hard out?” I’m, like, “No, I’m cool. We talking. This is me and you.” Anywho, at the end of the evening, I give her a hug and like our hands graze a little bit. I’m going, like, “Am I getting energy? Is she giving me vibes? What’s going on?” So I walk out, I text my friend. I’m, like, “Yo, I think I got vibes from the black chick at that studio.” And he knows who I’m talking about, ’cause only one black chick at that studio.
So, so he responds, like, “LOL you crazy, you think all the straight girls want you. Like, ain’t nobody trying to sleep with you, Lena. She don’t want you! Like, what up?” and I’m more, like, “Pssh, you right, I know. But I don’t know. I think sometimes I think the straight girls be wanting me, sending me vibes.” So, I go home. I’m, like, shook. And I’m just like, “What was that?”
But then I get excited for a second, ’cause I realize the next night, just by happenstance or God above — thank you — that we’re going to my manager’s house-warming the next night and he’s black, she’s black, all the black people — we know each other. So, I’m like, “So she’s going to be there the next night.”
So this is who I am, OK. So I call the Mercantile the next morning and I go, “Hey. I was at your establishment last night sitting with a lovely young lady. This person was our waitress, she was pouring the woman sitting in front of me a certain kind of wine, can you please tell me what brand it is and what year? ‘Cause I want to buy her that bottle of wine and take it with me…” [Audience cheers.] Yeah, y’all see how I do. “…take it with me to the party.”
So, of course, they give me the information, I go to a wine store, I give it to them, they like, “We don’t have it.” I go, “God dang it!” And I go, “Well, look. I’m wanna buy alcohol, OK?” I’m like, “What’s the most expensive bottle of red wine you got up in this mothafucker? Give me that!” So I’m, like, “Cool. 60 bucks? Boom!” OK.
I put it in my car and I’m like, and I leave it in my car because I’m not going to walk into a party with a bottle of wine, ’cause my manager Andrew gonna think that’s for him. No, it’s not for you, it’s for the lady. So, I leave it in the car and I know that when I see her, at the end of the night, I’m going to go like, “Yo, I got something for you in my truck.” That way I know if my friend is right and I’m tripping, I can say, “This is just, you know, wine, friendly gesture.” But if I’m right, I’m like, “Look, I’m feeling you too, girl.” The mental note is coming to life.
Anyway, so we at the after party, I step in the party, I’m looking around, like, where she at? And she’s looking fly. She’s got the “Poetic Justice” braids, like, whooped up, ready. She got this black, sheer shirt, and she got this, like, little short. I’m like, “Yes! What’s up!?!” So I see her, I’m like, “Hey! What’s going on? Hey!” And she’s like, “Hey, what’s up?”
One of her other friends there, who is kind of like a hating friend. She’s like a hater, you remember on “Martin”? Like, Gina and Pam. I call her Pam! I’m like, “Paaaam!” So, I don’t care. I roll up, I’m like, “Excuse me, Pam, let me get around you.” “Hey!” I’m, like, “Look. I know there’s a lot of people at this party, you know, but you the only person I’m interested in talking to.”
And she’s like, “Aww, thank you!” And this a big house. It’s like black people, Kendrick Lamar’s playing, dope. So, I go, “Look. He’s my manager. He gets 5 percent of whatever it is.” So I’m like, “Yo. I’m helping to pay for this house, so I’mma give myself a personal tour. Would you like to join me?” So I’m like, “Let’s get away from all the regular people.”
So, we like, go– we finally found a balcony and it’s like, empty. And we’re out there. And we’re talking and I’m just like, “This is really nice, you’re beautiful…” and just when we, like, about to get close, who walks out on the balcony? Pam!
She’s like, “Hey! You need a ride home?” I’m like, “I can give you a ride.” And her friend is like, “No, I got it. I’ll give her a ride home.” I’m like, “I can give her a ride to her crib, it’s not a big deal. I got a truck, I’m– truck is gassed up. It’s not a problem.”
Her friend is like… she’s like, “Fine. I won’t argue with you.” I’m like, “Thank you, don’t. OK. Byeeeee!” So her friend walks away and one of my friends rolls up, like, “What’s going on?” I’m like, “Don’t.” He’s like, “OK. Got you. Cool.” He knew what’s up.
We started talking, we’re looking to each other. We’re gazing into our eyes and next thing I know, like, we’re making out, like, and it’s, like, beautiful and it’s amazing. It’s very lesbionic. And then we’re like, OK. So then we, like, go back downstairs to the party and you know, we’re like, acting like a couple and it’s amazing and everybody’s kind of hating or whatever. And I’m like, “Don’t hate. This what we do.” So, and then, we walk to the car, I give her the bottle of wine and she’s like, “Whaaaaaaaaaat??”
I told her, I’m like, “I tried to get the brand they had last night, but they ain’t have it.” She kissed me again and she’s like, “I don’t care about that. It’s the gesture! It’s the thought!”
So we make out again in the car, I take her home and we watched a little Netflix and we chilled.
And we been together ever since. Thank y’all.