CHICAGO (CBS) — Lena Waithe, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, made Emmy history on Sunday, as the first black actress to win for comedy writing, for her work on Netflix comedy series “Master of None.”
Waithe co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode of the series with co-creator and star Aziz Ansari.
In that episode, Waithe’s character Denise comes out about being a lesbian. The episode was based on Waithe’s own personal experience.
“For everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thanks for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from South Side of Chicago. We appreciate it more than you could ever know,” Waithe said as she accepted the award.
Sunday night, before finding out she won, Waithe posted a childhood picture on Instagram, mentioning her dreams of one day being on the Emmys.
Waithe grew up on the South Side, but attended Evanston high School. She graduated from Columbia College in 2006.
“We are incredibly thrilled, and not exactly surprised, because we knew she was a bright light from the moment she first got here to Columbia. So this is one of those things that we are really excited about, and seemed bound to happen,” said Eric Scholl, chair of the School of Media Arts at Columbia. “Whatever she set her mind to do, she would do, and she was an amazing writer.”
After her historic win, Waithe said she hopes her award means more success for black women in Hollywood in the future.
“I hope it will open up people’s eyes to give women of color a seat at the table, so that they can tell their stories; and if you do that, then you’ll get one of these,” she said.
Waithe wasn’t the only actress with Chicago ties to take home an Emmy on Sunday.
Northwestern graduate Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her 7th Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, for the HBO series Veep. She has won six consecutive Emmys for Veep. Her seventh was for The New Adventures of Old Christine in 2006. She also won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Seinfeld in 1996.
Meantime, DePaul University alumna Ann Dowd broke down in tears as she accepted her first-ever Emmy, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, for her role in the Hulu hit “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Dowd, 61, graduated from theater school at DePaul in 1982. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her family, her cast, and Atwood herself.
“I think this is a dream, you know? I know it’s an actor’s dream, and I’m deeply grateful to you. I have been acting for a long time, and that this should ha ppen now, I don’t have the words,” Dowd said.
The Handmaid’s Tale won eight Emmys overall.