Last Thursday, Lena Waithe and BET teamed up for an exclusive screening for her new series ‘Twenties’ at Chicago’s Moonlight Studios. Hundreds of twenty-something Chicagoans appeared in their flyest attire to watch the coming-of-age series starring newcomers Jonica “JoJo” T. Gibbs, Christina Elmore, and Gabrielle Graham, followed by the after-party with sounds provided by DJ Cashera, The Franchise, and Sean Mac.
Gibbs, who plays lead character Hattie, says her character is a queer black woman loosely based on Lena Waithe herself and follows her journey of trying to pursue her film career. “You’ll see on the show a lot that Hattie is trying to figure things out. She is trying to get into the industry– she’s quirky and funny, I would say. “The plot also features Hattie’s two best friends, Marie, played by Elmore and Nia, played by Graham.
“I’m the one who seems to have everything together on paper: a good job, good boyfriend, but she doesn’t seem to have true happiness,” says Elmore.
“Nia is a very zany Caribbean yoga instructor on the show, she’s spiritual and a hopeless romantic,” says Graham.
Many people often complain that the portrayal of black women in film and television is one-sided and stereotypical, with little room to be different, and the actresses stressed the importance of black women being able to see themselves.
“I think it’s so important for Black women to see ourselves in multifaceted ways so we can have someone to look to,” says Gibbs. “Regardless of race, I think it’s important for anyone to look at a screen and see a story that they can relate to.”
“I think representation, in general, allows us to have more empathy and humanizes people, so that’s why we should see more Black women on screen in general,” says Graham.
“We want young black women trying to survive their twenties to be nice to yourself, be disciplined, and remember that there’s no clock to find a partner, a career, etc. Celebrate the small wins too,” all the actresses, echoed.
“Being in Lena’s hometown, we hope that people find the inspiration and feel good after watching this.”
Twenties premieres on Wednesday, March 4th on BET.
By Kia Smith, Contributing Writer