Lena Waithe – Making Urgent Art About the Black Experience with “Queen & Slim” | The Daily Show


-Welcome, Lena Waithe.
-Hey, I love you back. -Whaddup?
-Um… I have been a fan of yours
for such a long time, but there is an additional
element of my fandom that has, like, increased
over the past few years. -And that has been your drip.
-Okay. Everything that you wear. Like, you have become one of
the most stylish individuals. Did you just decide one day,
you were just like, “You know what? I’m just gonna,
I’m just gonna…” -Gonna stunt? -“I’m gonna stunt
on everybody.” -Um, yeah. I think it was a…
-(laughter) I think it was
a Thursday morning. I just said,
“No. This all stops. “Stylish, black, lesbian,
masculine-presenting, we’re gonna shut it down
and change the world.” That’s exactly what you’ve done. That’s what we’re gonna do. That’s exactly what you’ve done. Um… And you’re-you’re not just doing
it with the way you dress. You are doing it with the things
that you create. Queen & Slim, I truly– I-I’m not blowing smoke
up your ass at all– I truly have watched few films that engaged me in the way
this movie does. -It’s a powerful story.
-Mm. Like, I-I often say, like, the
trailer doesn’t do it justice, ’cause in the trailer,
it just seems like a story -where there’s a couple that
is out on a date, -Mm-hmm. -and then they get stopped
by a cop. -Right. -The stop goes very wrong,
-Right. and the guy, as we saw, Daniel Kaluuya’s character
shoots the cop, -and then they’re on the run.
-Right. But it’s a complex story. How did you even begin
to write a story like this? Why would you choose to do that,
especially considering how real the story is
in today’s world? Um, you know,
it’s so interesting. You know, Nina Simone says it is an artist’s duty
to reflect the times. And these are the times
in which we’re living. It is open season
on black bodies. And what I wanted to do…
You know, there’s a study that says if you’re ever being
held up at gunpoint, you should tell them
personal things about yourself. You should say,
“I have a child.” You should say, “My mother is,
you know, on her deathbed, and I want to see her go.”
All those things. Because what happens is the
gunman now empathizes with you -and now sees you as a human.
-Oh. It makes it more difficult
for them to kill you. So I think with my art,
I’m wondering if I can humanize
black people enough, maybe they’ll stop killing us. -It’s…
-(applause) It’s-it’s a powerful story
for me because, you know,
on the surface, a lot of people will think it’s a story
about black and white, -but it’s not a story
about black and white. -Right. Like, you don’t walk away
from this movie going, -“Oh, I’m angry
at white people.” -Right. You’re like,
“No, I’m angry at the system -that black people
are exposed to.” -Absolutely. You know, like, there are
white heroes in this movie. They’re not centered,
but there’s, like, white people who are, like, trying to help.
There’s allies. -Right. -There’s-there’s
so many complex layers to this. -Why… Right. -And it’s not
an anti-cop movie, either. It’s not anti-cop, either,
which is really interesting. Like, like, why
was that important to you to show so many different layers not just of, like,
Americans of different races -but even different types
of black people? -Right. Because I think there’s no
such thing as black and white. You know,
there’s so many shades of gray. Um, just the way, like, not
all black people are a monolith, not all cops are the same. They wear the same uniform,
you know, so what that uniform
represents to black people is-is very different,
you know, in that… It’s very interesting
because as a young person, you grow up, and you see videos
of the civil rights movement. And you see
young black students, you know,
who are smart and interesting -doing sit-ins and protesting.
-Mm-hmm. They’re being…
Like, dogs are sicced on them. Fire hoses. Like, batons. And those are police officers
doing that to them. -Right.
-And then the next day, they bring a police officer
into the classroom that says, “This is your friend, kids. So if you ever need help,
you call on a police officer.” So as a young black person, it was very confusing to me. And then now imagine being
a young black person where you see on the news
black people being killed in their homes
by police officers. So this-this relationship
between police and particularly
the black community has been fraught
since the beginning of time. -Right.
-And-and right now I just feel like
it’s-it’s an epidemic, and no one’s doing anything
about it. And I think, to me, the idea
of flipping the narrative in that what happens is
not the black person gets killed and we mourn them
and have that story, but what happens
if they stop saying, “Okay, yeah, you can kill me”? What happens if they stand up
and say, “No, I’m gonna live. I’m gonna survive”? And how that narrative
might make people uncomfortable. But that’s the narrative
I’m putting in front of people, because that’s my job
as an artist. It is– it is uncomfortable,
but, at the same time, it-it captured a complexity
that I-I truly always enjoy in any storytelling,
and that is the complexity -of black joy and black pain.
You know? -Absolutely. Because I-I often say to people,
you know, like-like, people will say,
like, even on The Daily Show, of anything, they’ll be like,
“Oh, but, as black people, like, how do you laugh?
How do you this?” And I’m like,
“Well, black people can’t wait -for everything to be right
to laugh.” -Absolutely. You know what I mean?
If black people were like, “We’ll laugh
when things are perfect,” -black people will never laugh.
-Absolutely. -Do you know what I’m saying?
And in this film, it’s– -Yeah. That’s-that’s what I w–
I want everyone to know about this movie, for me,
I’ve-I’ve been in a few movies where, one moment,
you are shocked and crying and then, the next moment,
you are laughing so hard but, like, a real laugh.
It’s, like, real joy. It’s-it’s–
It is, as you say, the grays. It’s not just black and white.
It’s not just a movie about, -like, black people are
suffering. It’s like, -Right. -no, black people
are human beings. -Right. This is what they experience.
And joy is part -of what they experience.
-Absolutely. The movie, to me, is a meditation on blackness. It’s a love letter
to black people, in that, even in the midst
of oppression, we find joy. Because we don’t have a choice. You know, we live in a world
where we’re still treated like second-class citizens, even
though we’re walking on land that our ancestors helped build
for free. And so that is also
a very weird dichotomy. It’s sort of like we should be
treated like royalty in this country,
but it’s the opposite. And-and, you know–
and I think, for me, the movie is something
that everyone can come see because everyone
should come experience what the world is like
through our lens, you know? And-and we had final cut
on this film. Everything you see– every look,
every word, every glance– was a purposeful decision
made by myself and Melina. We didn’t take any notes
from white people on this one. -There’s no white gaze.
-(cheering and applause) Um, and I think that’s why
it’s hitting different. You know? Because– And there’s
also this weird narrative, like, “Oh, how difficult was it for
y’all to get this movie made?” Man, the-the industry chased us. We were like Jesus Shuttlesworth
in He Got Game. They were, like,
rolling out the red carpet. “What do you need? Da-da-da-da.” And I was like,
“I will need final cut. “I want a fat budget. I want
to shoot it and release it “in the same year,
’cause this art is urgent. “And I want to break
a new actress, and she has
to be brown-skinned.” -(cheering and applause)
-Let’s-let’s talk about that. -Let’s talk about that
before you leave. -Right. You know, um, Melina Matsoukas,
who-who… -Phenomenal. The phenomenal
Melina Matsoukas. -…who is an amazing filmmaker.
A lot of people know her work because of the Beyoncé music
video, you know, in Lemonade. She did “Formation” and all
that kind of stuff. Insecure. And people loved her work
and the way she-she displays -not just the art
but black skin. -Yeah. And I mean, only
in the most recent years people have realized, oh,
a light of lighting people in Hollywood don’t know how
to light the different tones of black skin,
especially dark black skin. In this movie,
you’ve chosen your leads, -it seems very specifically.
-Absolutely. You have dark-skinned black
people, who you don’t often see -leading films.
-Absolutely. You also have so many
different shades of black. And the way it’s lit
is beautiful. It’s, like, playing
with all the tones. Why was that important for you? It was important because
I think it’s something we don’t see, and… it was also important to see
these two brown-skinned bodies make love on screen. Because there’s nothing
more human than making love. And when’s the last time you saw two brown bodies
make love on celluloid? I can’t remember. And we wanted to put
that out there because again, it’s reminding
people how human we are. And it may seem crazy, but there has to be
some disconnect that our black skin
is so scary to people that they’d rather shoot first
and ask questions later. And so, that’s why
I think a microphone is much more powerful
than a grenade. Our-our art tells us who we are. And I wanted this, you know,
the thing about Gordon Parks why he inspires me so much
is because what he did was, he captured America as it was. You know, one of my favorite
photographs of, that he took was little black kids
looking through a fence seeing white kids playing
joy-joyfully on a playground. -Mm-hmm.
-There’s no, nothing, there’s nothing
more American than that. You know, um,
there’s a carefreeness that white people know
that black people will never understand. And those were things
that I really wanted to capture in the film. But at the same time,
there’s a joy– I mean, I love that
James Baldwin said that a black smile
can light up any room. And I believe that. And I wanted to show that
in this movie, as well. You know, this country has
a very complicated past. And I think that’s why this
present is still so complex. And we-we, racism is a wound
that we haven’t healed yet. And I think through my art, I’m
working through that trauma. Because to be black
is beautiful, but it’s also traumatizing. Because you can’t watch the news
and see black bodies drop and nothing happened
to those that are the reason why those black bodies
have dropped. You can’t, if you’re
a black person in America, you’re being told
that you’re life is not as valid
as someone else’s. You captured that in the film. I hope that everyone watches it
with an open mind. I-I-I’ve said to your personally
and I’ll say it again. I think this is
one of those movies where the trailer
can’t tell you the story. The review is how everybody
will feel about it. I hope everybody sees it.
You’ve created a beautiful -work of art.
-Thank you, man. Thank you so much
for being on the show. Thank you, man. Queen & Slim will be in
theaters November 27th. Lena Waithe, everybody.

100 Replies to “Lena Waithe – Making Urgent Art About the Black Experience with “Queen & Slim” | The Daily Show”

  1. I don't want to hear this BS she needs 2 tell my community to stop killing each other in much higher numbers then any police are killing us… that's how she can humanize black people and stop pushing the lgbtqi+ agenda on our children THIS MOVIE IS GARBAGE!!!!!!!

  2. This sketch is very on point about changing places (white and black people)
    https://youtu.be/2s7WTh3IzBQ (turn the subtitle on).

  3. People should be demarcated on the basis of their deeds not appearance or color. I think generalizing deeds with color , religion and language is the biggest downfall of human civilization. The biggest factors of human atrocities through out history have been the aforementioned three factors.

  4. I really want to see this. I'm feeling cute, I might even pay for it. This woman is a real artist. Brave in the face of tyranny. I urge more to exist. Not just black or white or whatever. Everyone. This has to stop. Disarm the police. Retrain them. Whatever we have to do even if that means starting from scratch. To me this is the true purpose of art. Keep fighting please. Be unafraid. We all die. Live for something. Ok this sounds like a Nike ad. Peace.

  5. So beautifully articulated…..Ms. Waithe is representing the culture well…making us proud…..I can not wait to see this film!

  6. Adam and eve were black thats a fact. That part you can humanize black people they'll stop killing us."that got me meeeen

  7. I'm going to make a point to see Queen & Slim this week. Thank you Lena for telling nuanced stories with outstanding depth of field. And Trevor + team thank you for routinely raising up the voices of marginalized creators and thinkers. This changes the world particle by particle and I am grateful for your efforts.

  8. Lena is correct here and still beautiful and has the skin color of his own mother and is actually living in time this is being filmed in real time this is why this is significant because Trevor is being accepted more because it’s close to what the Germans nazi Germany thing. So the thing is Trevor was born from a black mother and a white father but he doesn’t know what color he is because it doesn’t matter but he trying to be comforted by the black people but if you could see his skin isn’t closer to white it’s the paper back test but again his mother’s skin was dark a queen that’s why he more comforted because she was more comforting which is not a problem it’s more of a problem what they are doing recording him giving him a platform having it be on a platform is very very very very very very wrong

  9. There were so many powerful combinations of words in this interview. This woman is so eloquent and her words are very impactful.

  10. Layers are the fabric that weave's life & us together. It's not black &white but a grey area that should be enlightened Excellent story put to film!Hope people can see that we should not judgeDo unto ALL OTHER'S as you wish Done unto you!!

  11. Beautiful black actresses and actors but it is ultimately a WHITE SAVIOR film.

    Lena apparently doesn't understand the Neely Fuller quote about white supremacy and racism.

    Over 400 years of institutional and systemic racism and discrimination isn't going to disappear by not honestly addressing white fragility and white supremacy. "They might see us as humans", said Lena. The majority of white Americans regardless of their political or religious affiliation are NEVER GOING TO GIVE UP THEIR WHITE PRIVILEGE…it must be taken.

    A beautiful film of black pain will not result in an epiphany for white Americans who are active and complicit in maintaining white privilege which is African-Americans black tax. 😐

  12. Nobody asked Narcissistic Lena about her sexuality- stylist black lesbian masculine presenting. It certainly appears that global markets and corporate mass media have given her an open license to advertise, flaunt and rub it in our collective faces. Lena Waithe is part of a secret HollyWeird black masculine [manliness] lesbian witch coven with the intent to shut down traditional sexual norms, family values, and change the world. I have a right to question, explore, and RESIST.  
     
    Trevor Noah (South African) is indeed blowing smoke up her ass for the secret Masonic brotherhood and the ILLUMINATI. Lena says that even in the midst of oppression, we find JOY! Really. It’s like CIA MK ULTRA/MONARCH British godfather, Isis-Urania Temple Aldous Huxley, foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to “love their servitude” via propaganda, drugs, entertainment, and sex-overload. Uranian is a synonym for homosexual relations (Order of Chaeronea). The Order of Chaeronea was a British secret fraternal society that included lesbians for the cultivation of a homosexual moral, ethical, cultural, spiritual ethos and CHAOS. The name and spirit of the order were taken from the battle in which the Sacred Band of Thebes, the corps of 300 pairs of gay lovers, was defeated by Alexander and Phillip at the Battle of Chaeronea. The 300 had to be annihilated by Alexander because they refused to surrender. Taking this "Army of Lovers" as their model for courage in the face of oppression, the Order of Chaeronea organized powerful and wealthy homosexuals who were otherwise unable to meet in public, into a secret political and spiritual force.
     
    They established an elaborate secret system of rituals, ceremonies, a service of initiation, seals, codes, and passwords were established that may have included some of the old witch and fertility cults of Roman Goddess Diana. Lesbian involvement in witchcraft was noted in 10th century Canon Episcopi (a perversion of the mind originated by Satan) in the description of the rites of Diana in Milan. Diana's secret rites included blood sacrifice, human and animals. Cows were sacred to and offered to Diana. Her temple had been adorned with cow skulls with horns. Queen & Slim’ Actress Jodie Turner-Smith Has Us Under Spell, Essence, Oct. 21, 2019, features her in a sanctuary of bleached cow skulls with horns adorning the wall. 
     
    Daily Show with Trevor Noah's Comedy Central (Viacom) and corporate mass media have unliterally crowned her as the mediator of black culture, and her movie as the mediation of blackness. She represents Masonic ILLUMINATI black lesbians, homosexuals not black folk culture. One of the general requirements for successful mediation is that those representing the respective parties (black people) have full authority to negotiate and settle the dispute. If this is not the case, then it is the "empty chair" mediation, that is, the person(s) who ought to be discussing the problem is simply not present. Waithe and her lesbian circle represent the Masonic brotherhood/lesbian penetration and infiltration of black culture, not the mediation.
     
    The Masonic Brotherhood’s god is the Baphomet (God Pan/Satan). It is a demonic entity and figure. It is a hermaphrodite, having both male and female physical parts- sexual fluidity. But, it is also part animal- THE GOAT. Viacom was founded by Warner Communications (Warner Bros)- Jack Warner, Master Mason of HollyWeird, Mount Olive Lodge No. 506, Los Angeles, California. Master Freemason- 33rd Degree Freemason of the Scottish Rite, Walt Disney, founded Walt Disney Studios. He helped his Masonic/Scottish Rite Brother Carl Laemmle found Universal Studios based on an animated black-faced minstrel rabbit, Oswald. Universal own [British] Queen and Slim. HollyWeird is one big Masonic secret society and brotherhood. [British] Queen and Slim’s concept and a paper license were created by James Frey, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (1865)- (ILLUMINATI Skull & Bones). The movie’s entire financing package began with Frey’s brotherhood-secret society paper license. Waithe developed the entire movie around Frey’s paper license and approval of the secret global Masonic Brotherhood. HollyWeird and corporate mass media have licensed Waithe to speak for the black community without debate and our consent. HollyWeird doesn’t make movies unless it is anchored by secret psychiatric and psychoanalytic methods of mass population- social control.

  13. THIS MOVIE WAS BULL💩!!I ONLY HATE COPS MORE NOW!!!GREAT FKN JOB!!!I’LL NEVER WATCH ANOTHER MOVIE WITH HER NAME ON IT!!!

  14. Never been to the US and wasn't aware that the social segregation of Black and White people is that strong, will definitely watch the movie! Is it just in specific parts of the US?

  15. You can not empathize or get people to see us as human to make them stop killing us🤦🏾‍♀️. MLK Jr tried this already, I hate that we don't study so keep trying the same tactics. You amass power, you create a way to punish and hold people accountable and stop asking them to show us mercy.

  16. That protest scene was not good. What was the purpose of the kid shooting the black officer in the face? Seems a tad counterintuitive to me.

  17. Queen & Slim is the first movie I saw in theatres twice with no hesitation. It was raw, gripping, healing and heartbreaking all at once. It has easily earned top spot in best films I’ve ever seen.

  18. Love this show and all the black people who share their experience and point of view of what happening in today’s society

  19. On this side of the pond & in my neck of the woods 🇰🇪, she'd be LEna(e in leg) WaithE( ythe). Waithe also translates to "of father"…

  20. Congratulations to Lena and Team for being able to produce URGENT ART. All the blessings to you and the black community for this time and healing more than you can fathom. IJN

  21. Watched the interview, then watched the movie. The thing that I took away from the movie, is "even in the mist of oppression we find joy". I think that's core of us a black people. She captured it perfectly.

  22. "Yeah. I think it was a Thursday morning. I just said. No. This all stops: stylish black lesbian masculine presenting, we gonna shut it down & take over the world." So thankful to be living in your world.

    #LenaWaithe

  23. It was a wonderful film: strong acting, beautiful cinematography and directing, ear-gasmic soundtrack, relaxant story. Emotionally engaging. And thought provoking. Shows a tale of tragedy through a multi-focused lense and will lead to discussions throughout time examine the many layers presented.

  24. “We live in a world where we are still treated like second class citizens even though we walking on land our ancestors helped build, for free.” “We should be treated like royalty in this country, but it’s the opposite“

  25. "If I can humanize Black people enough, maybe they'll stop killing us."

    A lovely sentiment. But unfortunately, the answer to that is a resounding "Nope."

    They won't.

    It's not just because they don't see us as human. It's also because, primarily so, that they enjoy it. They enjoy having people "under" them. They enjoy other people being "less-than" to themselves. And the freedom that comes with being higher than people – including the freedom to kill us – is far too intoxicating for them to ever let go of.

    But it's nice to hope, I guess.

  26. This woman is a minority twice. She's black and gay. She understands discrimination in more ways than one. Did a great job on the movie. Definitely struck a few nerves!!

  27. She is so deep and to hear her say she wants to use her art to show what is happening to us every day so powerful

  28. "There is no such thing as black and white"
    But in so many interviews she talks about white and black. Shut the fuck up i want some exposure too bitch

  29. Queen & Slim is such a magnificent movie! If you have not seen it yet, you have to go! The ending tells a very familiar story.

  30. I’ve never seen Trevor conduct an interview where he gushed so much that he talked more than his guest. 😀. He clearly loved this movie and for good reason.

  31. I think black people are going to see this but no white people when I went to see it the theater was full of only black people

  32. “this country has a complicated past, that’s why the present is so complex” … u dropped some real gems in this 1 @lenawaithe ! our #ptsd is real #queenandslim ✊🏾🇺🇸🙏🏾✊🏾

  33. This is one of the most reactionary and backward films that I've ever seen. The message is: die young and become a meme. In a NYT interview, Waithe said that she thought the film was a "good idea" because she never heard of a black couple on the run. The idea was from James Frey. Guess what color he is? Well, Melvin Van Peeble's did a similar film about fifty years ago (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067810/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0), and the black guy went on the run after killing two white police officers, escaped and made it to Mexico!!

  34. I loved this movie. One of the things I didn't like about this movie however was the portrayal of a bitter, condescending, angry young black woman. thats not how all black women process trauma and i'm over that narrative tbh!!!

  35. This is what propaganda media looks like. Black people has to be careful about people in the media with hidden agenda who's not in alliance with the natural black family structure pushing and promoting white supremacists agenda at the expense of the black nation of people. Black people number one priority at all times is the black family structure which is consist of a black man, black woman and black child or children.

  36. It open season on American black actors and actresses being replaced and portrayed by black immigrants that haven’t internalized our plight since 1619.

  37. i know that this aint what is being discussed here, but Waithe in my native african language can be translated to "of your father"….so beautiful

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