'Master of None' Writer Breaks Down the Emotional Coming-Out Scene

Courtesy of Netflix
Angela Bassett (left) and Lena Waithe in Denise's coming-out scene on 'Master of None.'

Lena Waithe, who starred in and co-wrote the episode "Thanksgiving" with creator Aziz Ansari based on her personal experience, highlights key moments from the Emmy-nominated script.

One of the most buzzed-about episodes of Master of None's second season was the one centered on Lena Waithe's character. The eighth episode of Aziz Ansari's Netflix dramedy, "Thanksgiving," tells the story of Denise (Waithe) coming out to her mom, played by Angela Bassett.

Since the episode was inspired by Waithe's own experience, Ansari asked her to pen the script with him so that she could be the one to tell her story. The pair then wrote it in a hotel room in London, where Waithe was filming another project — and now they're nominated for an Emmy for their work (Bassett, too, received a guest actress nom for the episode). With The Hollywood Reporter, Waithe breaks down key scene in the episode where Denise finally tells her mom she's gay.

(1) "I used to hate when my mom would say this," says Lena Waithe, who mined her own coming-out experience for this episode. "Now it's immortalized."

(2) "I thought it was important for the character to say this twice. Just like, I wanted Denise to be crystal clear!"

(3) "This action line was important because I wanted to show that Catherine [Bassett], in this moment, cares more about who overheard their conversation than she does what her daughter is feeling."

(4) "I was nervous to write this because I didn't want to put too much pressure on the actress. But it's Angela. She. Is. Legend."

(5) "This line sums up the episode. It says a lot about what it means to be a person of color in this country and how it feels to be a person of color who happens to be gay."

(6) "A lot of people think this is just a joke — but my mom really said this. And I respected her request!"

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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