Lena Waithe Creates a Powerful Message with short film ‘Rising’

by Carolyn Neuhausen


We are living in a time where many in the U.S. are polarized by politics, socio-economic status, religion, geography, and race. In an effort to bridge those divides, The Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels campaign released a poignant film last November called Rising, which boasts top notch credits, including co-writer Lena Waithe and Game of Thrones director David Nutter.

Rising tells the story of a diverse group of neighbors forced to put their differences aside in order to save one another during a catastrophic storm. The film explores the question of why it takes a disaster to bring us together in the hope compelling people to be more inclusive and caring in everyday life.

“I’m so excited to be involved,” said Waithe, whose credits include creating the SHOWTIME series The Chi and winning an Emmy for Master of None. “We need stories like this that bring people together, especially now.”

Waithe’s participation in Rising marks one of the many ways she has advocated for inclusivity in her professional life. Early last year, she became one of 300 women in Hollywood to join Time’s Up, an initiative to fight sexual harassment in the workplace. More recently she served as a mentor in AT&T Hello Lab’s Mentorship Program, which connects emerging artists from diverse backgrounds with entertainment industry veterans to produce bold indie-style films

For Waithe, being part of the AT&T Hello Lab program was part of a larger personal effort to bring more diversity to Hollywood. “I have a ton of mentees. They’re all people of color. Some of them are poor; And I’m just trying to help them learn how to be great writers,” she told Vanity Fair. “And for those that have become really good writers, I help them get representation; and those that have representation, I want to help them get jobs. That to me is a form of activism.” 

Watch the Short Film "Rising"