Emmy-winning writer, director and producer Lena Waithe has signed a 2-year overall deal with Amazon Studios to create programs for Prime Video.
One of the first projects she plans to roll out on the platform is her horror anthology series, “Them,” Complex reports.
“Lena is a powerhouse writer and producer who also has a gift for identifying exciting and authentic voices,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke told Deadline. “Our upcoming series Them is the result of her rare ability to cultivate brilliant voices like Little Marvin and bring his wholly original and compelling vision to Amazon. We look forward to collaborating with Lena and her team for years to come.”
Waithe is just as excited about the partnership, stating: “I couldn’t be more excited about this new partnership with Amazon Studios and am looking forward to this next chapter,” she said. “Both of our goals are aligned in that we want to continue elevating storytellers who are underrepresented and have a unique vision of the world.”
Lena previously called out Black movie stars who have reached baller status but have not invested in young filmmakers of color.
In an interview with The New York Times, she noted that one of the biggest roadblocks facing Black content creators is the lack of Black financiers in Hollywood.
“Don’t get me started on black financiers!” she said. “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.”
She went on to point out that “Moonlight” and “12 Years a Slave,” two films that are “very important to the black community” were produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company.
“[It] wasn’t Denzel. Wasn’t Will Smith,” Waithe said. “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.”
She continued, “I’m over here trying to build a community, and I don’t see other people doing it. I really do feel like there’s a way for us to change the movie business from the inside out, but we’re all in our own silos doing our own thing. We’re definitely in the middle of a renaissance, make no mistake. In 20 years, people are going to be writing about what you’re writing about. But for me, I want more.”
Up next for Lena is her much hyped film “Queen & Slim” feature, set to drop in November.