Master of None's Lena Waithe on how not to play a lesbian on TV

Lena Waithe is getting rave reviews playing Aziz Ansari's lesbian best friend in Master of None.
Lena Waithe says she's happy to play a queer character on TV who isn't awkward and "coming of age" but already has their grown-up swag. (Netflix)

Lena Waithe is getting rave reviews for her portrayal of Denise, best friend to Aziz Ansari's character Dev in Master of None.

Denise is cool, funny, and definitely a fan favourite. She also happens to be a black lesbian — but that's not the point. She's a character, not a caricature. 

Waithe joins Shad to discuss the importance of queer characters who aren't just coming out, or coming of age; and why she thinks casting directors should cast a wider net when looking for new talent.  

The writer and actress also explains how she differs from the character largely inspired by her real traits. For one: "There's a gay, white, Jewish man trapped inside my body." 

WEB EXTRA | Watch a short clip from Master of None, featuring Waithe as Denise. The actress is also known for behind-the-scenes work in film and television.

From left, Aziz Ansari, Noel Wells, Lena Waithe and Eric Wareheim appear in a scene from the Netflix original series Master of None. (K.C. Bailey/Netflix via Associated Press)


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