March 28, 2018 / 2:38 PM / 3 months ago

A Minute with: Lena Waithe as a 'guy or a chick' in 'Ready Player One'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress, writer and producer Lena Waithe is enjoying a breakout moment in Hollywood.

The 33-year-old made history last year as the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for an episode of Netflix series "Master of None" that was inspired by her own coming-out story. Waithe also created Showtime series "The Chi" and stars in Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One," a film about a digital world called the Oasis. In the movie, Waithe portrays a woman named Helen, a part-man, part-machine avatar named Aech, and a larger-than-life robot.

Waithe spoke to Reuters about "Ready Player One," virtual reality and women in Hollywood. The following are edited excerpts.

Q: What was your favorite part about this character?

A: The fact that she is masculine and feminine. I can be a guy and do things that guys do, behave in a way that maybe a guy would, in the Oasis. In the real, live-action world, I'm not that different. I just happen to be a girl. People may look at me and judge me differently, but my personality is pretty much the same. I can be a guy or a chick, but the personality is just as confident.

Q: Are you a fan of virtual reality now?

FILE PHOTO : Actress Lena Waithe arrives at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., March 4, 2018. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

A: It is really cool. It's a little scary too. It can be addictive. You can leave that thing on all day. But I definitely think it's where we're going.

Q: What will people learn about VR from this movie?

A: At the beginning of the film, everybody has their (VR) visors on. People are just going on about their day, but no one is looking at each other. No one's talking to each other. It's a really interesting metaphor for social media. They are communicating with each other, but in a virtual reality, so there is very little hand-on-hand contact. I think as humans we need that. We need to look at each other. We need to shake hands. There needs to be a bit of balance.

Q: In Hollywood, TV seems ahead of film in promoting women in front of and behind the camera. Why is that?

FILE PHOTO: Actor Lena Waithe attends the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and InStyle celebration of the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards season at Catch LA in West Hollywood, California, U.S. November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon/File Photo

A: The movie business is an old one. (In TV), we feel like we can move a little bit faster and we can make changes quicker. If we hear there's a problem, we can quickly go to set and make sure things are fine.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Richard Chang

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