Before her work on “Master of None” and “The Chi” earned her an Emmy and a growing slate of innovative projects, Lena Waithe was one of many Black women hustling behind the scenes in an entertainment industry that often disregards them. Recognizing the need for an intentional community and pipeline, Waithe joined forces with fellow writers and producers Nkechi Okoro Carroll (“All American”) and Erika Johnson (“Queen Sugar”) in 2014 to connect Black women navigating the industry. The result was networking group Black Women Who Brunch. The Hollywood Reporter features 62 of the members in its largest photoshoot ever, which the magazine published with an accompanying roundtable story yesterday (December 4). 

In the story, the members discuss the barriers, tokenism, microagressions and other racial and gender inequity issues they confront in Hollywood—and how the group helps them through it all: 

  • “People of color, who often don’t have the generational wealth or financial support system to attend film schools or work almost for free for years as an intern or assistant, are at a disadvantage. They are not in the pipeline.”—Felischa Marye, story editor for “13 Reasons Why”
  • “Trying to traverse this unique career can at times be such a shitstorm. With these women, I’m able to air frustrations and talk strategy in a safe and judgment-free zone. I’ve bothered Erika Johnson quite a few times about career moves (sorry girl, but also thank you so much). It’s been priceless and keeps me going on the hardest days.”—Cynthia Adarkwa, staff writer on “In the Vault”
  • “We have such little room for error. We have to be exceptional. Those writers who always move up despite being ‘just OK?’ None of them are Black women. If a White male staff writer is bad, it’ll never keep those in power from hiring another White guy. I’ve heard people say that they ‘tried’ to hire diverse, but the Black writer they hired didn’t work out, so they never hired a Black person again. Incredible.”—Marquita Robinson, co-producer on “Glow”

The story appear in THR’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue. “Widows” actress Viola Davis, who appears along with Waithe on the Power 100 list, stars on the cover