Lena Waithe has loads of writing experience and an Emmy for her work on the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, but Queen and Slim marks a major first for her; it’s her first time writing a feature film. The movie stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a black man and a black woman who meet on a Tinder date. It isn’t really a “sparks fly” kind of situation but their paths are firmly intertwined after an incident on their drive home. They’re pulled over by a cop and the encounter intensifies to the point that the man kills the cop in self-defense. Afraid for their lives and how their choices could be perceived, they opt to make a run for it together with their relationship evolving every step of the way.
With Queen & Slim making its way into theaters nationwide on November 27th, Waithe took a little time to sit down and discuss some of the most surprising challenges when crafting her first feature screenplay, the note she got from cinematographer Bradford Young that she wound up implementing in the film, her choice to use descriptors rather than character names in the screenplay, and so much more.
You can catch the full conversation with Waithe in the video interview at the top of this article and if you want to hear even more about the making of Queen & Slim, check out my chat with Kaluuya and Turner-Smith right here, and be sure to keep an eye out for my interview with director Melina Matsoukas coming soon!
- How long did it take Waithe to complete the first draft of the script?
- What changed the most from first draft to finished feature?
- Waithe opted to use descriptors in her screenplay rather than character names. Why did she choose to do that and is that writing approach specific to Queen and Slim?
- Even with all of her experience, is there anything about writing for the feature film format that surprised her?