Lena Waithe Reacts to Being Mistaken for Ava DuVernay in 'Ready Player One'

Lena Waithe_Ava Duvernay_Split - Getty - H 2018
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images; Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Twitter can be a crazy place.

On Aug. 9, a woman with the handle @CadyHarin posted her reaction after seeing Steven Spielberg’s 2018 video game epic. “Everybody need to watch that move Ready Player One,” she posted before tagging filmmaker Ava DuVernay and congratulating her on being in the film. “I ain’t know you was in it sis.”

DuVernay replied to the tweet and corrected the fan’s case of mistaken identity. “Thanks, but that is not me. I can’t act my way out of a paper bag,” she posted. “That’s @LenaWaithe. She’s a wonderful writer, producer and actress. Triple threat.”

When The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Waithe at HFPA’s Grants Banquet, the Emmy winner laughed and commented that it was “a black girl” who made the mistake. Still, no harm, no foul, Waithe said.

“It’s an honor to be mistaken for Ava — Ava is gorgeous,” continued the 34-year-old, who praised DuVernay and Gina Prince-Bythewood during the gala for giving her a start early on in her career after she moved to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry.  “Maybe my hair cut will help.”

Waithe recently chopped off her long locks in favor of a closely cropped hairdo. It was the first time anyone had mistaken her for DuVernay, Waithe said, but not her first encounter with someone thinking she’s another famous person. “People think I look like Samira Wiley, and they get me and the girls from Orange Is the New Black mixed up all the time. It’s hilarious.”

Waithe says more acting projects are coming soon — “small parts and things; that’s what I like" — so there may be more cases to correct in her future.

Speaking of comedy, though, Twitter again did not disappoint on Aug. 11 when user @Swyknapp responded to a Boots Riley tweet asking the Sorry to Bother You filmmaker if he’d seen Sorry to Bother You. Riley seemed to be taking a slight jab at Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman when he posted, “After 40 years of cop shows and cop movies — did we really need one more movie where it supposed to be about racism but the cops are the actual heroes of the film and the most effective force against racism? Rhetorical question.”

That’s when @Swyknapp jumped in. “That’s what you got from BlacKkKlansman? People and teamwork of all races are the most effective force against racism is what I got. I understand if you want something different, but have you seen Sorry to Bother You? That is way different and isn’t about cops.”

Spoiler: He’s seen it. 

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.