Creator Of THE CHI To Develop Projects In Comedy And Drama For The Network
LOS ANGELES – July 24, 2018 – Emmy-winning writer and producer Lena Waithe (THE CHI) has signed a first-look deal with SHOWTIME, expanding her relationship with the network that launched her first series as a creator and executive producer. Waithe will work with SHOWTIME on comedy and drama projects that she both writes and produces through her company Hillman Grad Productions. The announcement was made today by Gary Levine, President of Programming, Showtime Networks.
“We fell in love with Lena’s voice when we ordered her pilot for THE CHI three years ago, and we have watched in awe at her powerful impact on our industry and our culture,” said Levine. “Lena is a creative force of nature and we are delighted that the force will be with us as she makes SHOWTIME her creative home.”
“I have been a fan of SHOWTIME for as long as I can remember,” said Waithe. “They make shows that most networks wouldn’t touch and they’ve never been afraid of taking risks. I look forward to introducing my showtime family to fresh and exciting new voices. I want to make content that will challenge audiences and take them places they never thought TV could go. It’s going to be a fun ride.”
A champion for diversity in entertainment, Waithe is a triple threat as a producer, writer and actor who expertly taps into emerging cultural sensibilities with a sharp wit, speaking to myriad experiences from her unique perspective and challenging audiences to think outside of conventional norms.
Waithe’s signature creation, THE CHI, premiered in January as the biggest launch for a SHOWTIME drama series in two years and was quickly renewed for a second season after growing its audience in consecutive weeks. THE CHI continued to add tremendous growth in the second half of the season, with the finale outperforming the premiere by 64 percent. Produced entirely in its namesake city of Chicago, THE CHI is a timely coming-of-age story that explores the humanity behind the headlines sensationalizing the South Side of Chicago.
The debut of THE CHI came on the heels of Waithe winning the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, and a GLAAD Media Award, along with an NAACP Image Award Nomination for the Master of None episode “Thanksgiving” that she co-wrote. The episode adapted Waithe’s personal experience as a queer black woman coming out to herself and her family into the character of Denise, whom Waithe played. It was recently announced that her latest script, Queen & Slim, will go into production in January starring Daniel Kaluuya for Universal. Waithe also serves as executive producer and writer of the upcoming series Twenties. Her producing credits include the films Step Sisters and Dear White People, which later became a TV series in which she guest starred. Her on-screen roles include Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, as well as This Is Us, Transparent and The Comeback. Waithe was also named to Time magazine’s Most Influential People of 2018. She was the recipient of The Trevor Project’s Hero Award and MTV’s Trailblazer Award. Waithe was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Los Angeles with her fiancé, Alana Mayo.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, and also offers SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ ON DEMAND and FLIX ON DEMAND®, and the network’s authentication service SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. Showtime Digital Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SNI, operates the stand-alone streaming service SHOWTIME®. SHOWTIME is currently available to subscribers via cable, DBS and telco providers, and as a stand-alone streaming service through Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, Google, Xbox One, Samsung and LG Smart TVs. Consumers can also subscribe to SHOWTIME via Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation™ Vue, Amazon Channels and FuboTV. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel™, and offers Smithsonian Earth™ through SN Digital LLC. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV. For more information, go to www.SHO.com.