Lena Waithe's Dream Project Is a Mary Tyler Moore Biopic

Illustration for article titled Lena Waithe's Dream Project Is a Mary Tyler Moore Biopic
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Lena Waithe has had a busy last few months between her groundbreaking Vanity Fair cover, a role in Ready Player One, and getting her Showtime series The Chi renewed for a second season, but she’s already looking forward to her next project. And one movie she’s hoping to get made is a biopic of her childhood TV hero Mary Tyler Moore.


The Emmy award-winning writer tells The Hollywood Reporter that it’s a passion project she’s been thinking about for awhile, though she admits that she doesn’t think “people are expecting that from a black lesbian from the south side of Chicago.” Waithe tells the magazine:

I read her autobiography more times than I can count. Because I was obsessed with The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I was, like, who is this woman? Who is this person that everybody is wanting to be, that everybody was so happy when she came onscreen? Who was this woman who went from being Dick Van Dyke’s wife [on The Dick Van Dyke Show] to the first woman to wear pants on primetime television? The first real single girl that wasn’t focused on finding a man on primetime TV. She was a feminist in every sense of the word, but she was also a functioning alcoholic. She was also extremely private. She had MTM [Enterprises]. MTM produced St. Elsewhere, Lou Grant and all these other amazing shows. I feel like, I want to tell her story. That is what I want to do, I’m only concerned with doing what I want to do. I don’t want to follow a certain path. I just want to just make dope shit.

“I don’t really know how to do it. I really want to do that and find a dope actress to come in and play her and figure it out,” she adds. “That’s the thing that’s on my radar that I want to figure out. But I’m still a queer black girl and want to tell a James Baldwin [story], too. But that’s who I am, that’s what kind of artist I am.”

Waithe is also reportedly developing a new coming-of-age show with TBS centered around a queer black girl named Hattie, a show she’s been trying to get made for nine years. When it comes to the Mary Tyler Moore biopic, I hooope she makes it after aaalll!

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.


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1) Who would be cast as MTM? Let’s speculate!

2) Lucille Ball wore pants on TV in the ‘50s, beating MTM by maybe a decade.

3) Why hasn’t my Lena W Vanity Fair arrived yet?

4) Why is Miss Crystal so unnecessarily surly in her response?

5) I, too, love MTM, and I am interested in this project.