Lena calls for pride without prejudice

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe

Stereotyping people who are different from us might generate false impressions that initially seem harmless, but maverick US scriptwriter/actress Lena Waithe made her debut at Cannes Lions to explain why we should not hang on to any of our prejudices.

Waithe, spoke on the Cannes Lions panel called Seeing is Believing: The Power of Re-Picturing Stereotypes, has gone viral on social media with the hilariously awkward scenes from the Netflix hit comedy Master of None.

Referring to a scene where her character comes out as gay, she told Lions Daily News good comedy is about delving into why people create stereotypes in the first place.

“Stereotypes are based on certain truths. But as a writer you don’t want to generalise, so you tap into what the stereotype is and find out what is at the root of it,” she explained.

“That is more entertaining than just criticising it. People are questioning stereotypes more often these days and the question for me, as a writer, is how do I make that more interesting?”

She argued that diversity among people and the visibility of different members in a community need to be portrayed as truthfully as possible in the media.

“To me, it is always about being honest when telling stories about black people, queer people, women; then, take what people think they know about them and help re-shape those views.”

In the Master of None scene, Golden Globe winner Angela Bassett plays a mother struggling to come to terms with the news that her daughter (played by Waithe) is gay. It is how the daughter tells the mother that has set social media alight.

“Audiences have not seen this type of storytelling before, especially one that is as blunt and honest as this. It is not just about coming out, it is also about relationships, such as the one between the mother and daughter,” said Waithe.

Harriet Palmer