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‘The Chi’ Creator Lena Waithe Under Fire for Calling Out Hollywood Veterans for Apparently Not Doing Enough for the Culture



Lena Waithe has had it with Black Hollywood megastars after she has alleged they have not done enough to help up-and-coming Black creators.

The creator of Showtime’s “The Chi” made the remarks while speaking to The New York Times and directly called out Denzel Washington and Will Smith in the process.

lena waithe
Lena Waithe speaks to the crowd during BET’s “Boomerang” Emmy FYC Screening Event at Paramount Theater on the Paramount Studios lot on May 9, 2019, in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET )

“Don’t get me started on black financiers!” Waithe told the newspaper. “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.”

The star did, in fact, wind up naming names as she credited the Brad Pitt-co-founded Plan B for doing more to advance the work of Black storytellers than Black actors have.

“Let me give you two movies that are very important to the black community: ‘Moonlight’ and ’12 Years a Slave.’ Whose production company put those out?” she asked. Plan B was responsible for both Oscar-winning efforts.

“Wasn’t Denzel. Wasn’t Will Smith,” Waithe continued. “You won’t catch me making $20 million a movie and not paying for at least four or five independent movies a year. I do give credit to Ava [DuVernay] for trying to build something that hasn’t been built before, but that’s a lot on Ava’s back.”

Waithe’s remarks have drawn the ire of Twitter users who had no issues letting their feeling show.

“So Lena Waithe is calling out Denzel Washington and Will Smith for not financing enough “Black projects and talent?” #CAREERSUICIDE Wow. Blackballed or nah? Also, her neutral stance on Tiffany Boone’s situation on HER set… has changed my attitude towards her… FOREVER. ✌🏾”

“I can’t believe Lena Waithe had the audacity to say that Denzel Washington doesn’t support black talent in the same capacity that Brad Pitt does lol. It’s disrespectful bc Denzel has worked with & supported so much young black talent. Y even lie on him lol.”

“Lena Waithe taking shots at Will Smith and Denzil Washington might cause a stir short term but long term, criticizing these two actors in public is not a smart move.”

Still, there are examples of Smith and Washington lending their hands to help rising Black stars.

In one of her first major starring roles, Quvenzhané Wallis landed the title role in the 2014 remake of “Annie,” produced by Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. That same company is behind an upcoming documentary centering on the Flint water crisis written and directed by 29-year-old Malcolm M. Mays.

As for Washington, “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman explained the legendary actor paid for him to study at Oxford. He also gave Fordham University $250,000 for a scholarship fund in 2011, something theater students have been thankful for.

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