(CBS Local)– Lena Waithe is one of the most creative people in Hollywood and her work can be seen throughout the ViacomCBS family.
The screenwriter, producer and actor is the creator of “The Chi” on Showtime and the new BET series “Twenties,” about a group of Black women in their 20’s figuring out their lives, careers and relationships in Los Angeles. The comedy features actors we’ve seen before like Christina Elmore and new faces like Gabrielle Graham. Both Elmore and Graham love being on a show that’s as authentic as this one.
“It’s been a dream, it’s literally a dream come true,” said Elmore in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “After the last show that I was on ended, my husband asked what I wanted to do next. I said I would love to do a half hour comedy, on cable, with Black women, about Black women. Twenties is literally my dream and it has been pretty magical.”
“I was in acting class and my acting teacher said you need to be specific about the type of work that you want to do and the type of people you want to work with,” said Graham. “Lena Waithe was at the top of my list and I had auditioned for a few of her things before. I love her work and I love her writing. I just happened to get Twenties and it has been an amazing ride and I’ve learned so much.”
In addition to Elmore and Graham, Jonica T. Gibbs leads the way as a gay screenwriter named Hattie, who is loosely based off of Waithe. “Twenties” also features a star-studded guest cast with rapper Big Sean, NBA champions Rick Fox and Iman Shumpert and actor Vanessa Williams. Both Elmore and Graham have cherished the experiences on and off camera with all of the show’s guest stars.
“Every week we’d get the scripts, find out who was playing the roles and be like what,” said Elmore. “They’re going to be on our little show, that’s amazing. It was also really refreshing. I’ve watched a lot of TV in my day and you can have big names come on a show to draw an audience and not necessarily to tell the story well. Big Sean had not done this before and he was committed to being good and was. Nothing was done without thinking of the story and serving the story. It was great to work with so many of these exciting people.”
“I get really easily intimidated and I thought I would be more intimidated, but I was actually really motivated and inspired,” said Graham.
On the show, Elmore plays a woman named Marie, who is a television executive and Graham plays Nia, who is a yoga instructor. Marie and Nia are best friends, even though they are two different types of people and friendship is one of the biggest themes of this series.
“A big part of this show is pursuing your dreams, but also doing it with your chosen family,” said Elmore. “And to see a beautiful friendship between three Black women that’s not catty or not predictable and stereotypical. It feels really refreshing.”
“Nia is the calming and less worrisome one in the group and Marie is the one who needs to have everything a very specific way,” said Graham. “I think it creates a balance between the two. The different personalities bring a perfect balance.”
Watch “Twenties” on BET and BET+