Lena Waithe Inks First-Look Deal With Showtime

The writer-producer behind ‘The Chi’ will develop and create new comedy and drama projects for the network.

Showtime is doubling down on Lena Waithe, signing the Emmy-winning writer (and creator of The Chi) to a new first-look deal.

The arrangement comes on the heels of The Chi’s first season, one that drew positive critical attention and a quick sophomore renewal for the Chicago-set drama. The new deal is intended to have Waithe developing and creating new projects for the network in both the drama and comedy spaces.

“I have been a fan of Showtime for as long as I can remember,” said Waithe. “They make shows that most networks wouldn't touch and they've never been afraid of taking risks. I look forward to introducing my Showtime family to fresh and exciting new voices. I want to make content that will challenge audiences and take them places they never thought TV could go. It's going to be a fun ride.”

Waithe, a fierce advocate for other writers, who’s done a great deal of mentorship at her relatively young age, inadvertently minted herself as a TV industry darling when she picked up an Emmy win for writing an episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None in 2017. Her speech was a highlight of the award show and propelled her to a new kind of fame. (This spring alone, she graced the red carpet of the Met Gala and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair.)

“We fell in love with Lena’s voice when we ordered her pilot for The Chi three years ago, and we have watched in awe at her powerful impact on our industry and our culture,” said Showtime Networks programming president Gary Levine. “Lena is a creative force of nature and we are delighted that the force will be with us as she makes Showtime her creative home.”

The new deal, through her Hillman Grad Productions shingle, follows another project in the works. Her comedy Twenties was ordered to pilot at TBS back in February.