Lena Waithe is the recipient of the 2018 Shot Caller Award at Black Girls Rock! tonight on BET.
The 34-year-old is being honored for her trailblazing role in raising awareness of diversity in media and helping bring new voices into the mainstream.
Waithe, a producer and screenwriter as well as an actress, has already had a hugely impressive career despite her young age.
She was the first black woman to be honored with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Writing, which she won for Netflix series Master of None in 2017.
She won the award for the show’s episode Thanksgiving, which was semi-autobiographical and chronicled her own story of coming out to her mom.
Waithe is also the creative mind behind The Chi on Showtime, which was renewed for a second season earlier this year.
According to her bio for the Black Girls Rock! awards, Waithe knew that she wanted to do something in the entertainment industry from an early age, growing up watching shows like The Cosby Show, A Different World, Moesha, and Good Times.
She later took this passion to Colombia College Chicago, which specializes in arts and media, and graduated in 2006 with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.
Waithe has since worked as a writer on a string shows including crime series Bones on FOX, Nickelodeon’s sitcom How to Rock, and web series Hello Cupid.
As well as winning an Emmy as a writer on Master of None, she also starred in the series as Denise, the lesbian friend of central character Dev Shah.
She got her big screen break with the role of Aech in Steven Spielberg movie Ready Player One, and also plays the character of P. Ninny on TV series Dear White People on Netflix. The show is based on the 2014 satirical movie of the same name, on which Waithe served as a producer.
Outside of her on-screen and off-screen roles, Waithe, born in Chicago, Illinois, also works mentoring young and diverse writers through online community The Black List.
BET said Waithe “is well known for her ability to bring to life the narratives of LGBTQIA characters, as well as crafting roles that humanize characters of color, who are most often treated as props for entertainment”.
They added: “Lena Waithe was not only a triumph for the industry’s awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in media and storytelling.
“Waithe is a strong advocate for bringing new voices to mainstream media by trailblazing the way for other writers, producers, creators and creatives to present their stories.”
Black Girls Rock airs on Sunday, Sep. 9 at 8/7c on BET.