writer | actOR
Emmy®-winner Lena Waithe is one of Hollywood's most promising up-and-coming talents, who continues to grow her body of work with diversity, charisma, and comedy. Waithe first made headlines in front of the camera as Denise, friend to Dev (Aziz Ansari) in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Master of None. In a role that was originally intended for a straight, Caucasian female, Waithe has made Denise's experience as a queer black woman uniquely her own. This season, Waithe co-write the “Thanksgiving” episode, for which she received an Emmy® in the category of “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.”
As a writer, Waithe is serving as Creator and Executive Producer of The Chi, a relevant, timely, and distinctive coming-of-age story that follows six interrelated characters in Chicago's South Side. The Chi will premiere on Showtime in 2018. She will next be seen on the big screen in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, which Warner Bros. will release in the Spring of 2018.
Drew Kugler: First off, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on conversations. It means a lot. Aside from being a huge fan of the show, you're also doing an incredibly important thing in the world, and my work is about helping people do that, so it's really cool to sit here with you.
Lena Waithe: Thanks so much for having me.
DK: And you're more than welcome. So, you'll be in the first, probably, to be fair, as people look on the podcast page—you'll be up obviously in the first ten or so episodes that we're going to be putting out. And you'll hear on some of these other episodes, the opening question for most people—and that was sort of linking together how we grew up—which you'll certainly go into a little bit later—but how we grew up into what we've become, okay? And so the question is, when you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
LW: I wanted to be a television writer. I was very obsessed with TV as a kid, like maybe most kids are. But I really was—at any given moment, or time of day, you could find me plopped in front of the television set. And, but really absorbing it, really studying it, watching everything from—I was very lucky to grow up during a time when The Cosby Show was on. At its height actually, but also watching A Different World and watching old TV shows with my grandmother like, you know, Colombo and, like, [The]Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. So for me, I kind of had a mix of things that were current and on at the moment. But I also got a chance to watch old television shows that like All in the Family as well, and The Jeffersons and Good Times, and different shows—got to watch those television shows that, really, I still got a kick out of, and I still thought were quite funny and entertaining. And so very early on, I knew I wanted to make television that wasn't just funny and interesting for the time, but it was actually timeless. So very early on, I knew I wanted to be a part of that world and—because it fascinated me so much and I got so much joy from it—I want I wanted to be a part of it.
DK: Got it. So what did you do, where did it, where did it begin to take real shape for you, other than obviously being a fan of a lot of great shows? Do you remember as you grew older where [it] kicked kicked in to pursuing work?
LW: Yeah. I mean I think when I was in—oh, I've always sort of been like, I've always loved writing. And I always was complimented on that by teachers, even elementary school, so I always knew that that was something I have—a gift that I had. But when I got in the high school and I got really, really obsessed with certain TV shows and when I was watching Friends and things like that, and really just being obsessed with Law and Order, S.V.U. and all that kind of stuff. So like really watching those shows and thinking about what I would do with those characters and things like that. But then when I went to college, I would decide to go to Columbia College in Chicago ,which is really an art sort of school, which was a real I think commitment to chasing my dream, because that's the kid of school you go to when you really want to study your craft and learn it; and I wasn't really Chicago yet. So I figured well, the school's right in my backyard, and I can actually major in writing and producing television. Which is what I did. So I think the thing for me, it was a relief that it became clear when it came time to pick a school, to really further my education, that would really, you know, because when go to college does have a huge impact on what happens after that in your life and so that's really when I made the decision—when I was in high school. I was like, I want to go to Columbia, and I want to study art. And I went there, and I was there for all four years and had a wonderful experience. And then then I came out to Los Angeles and was, you know, hit the ground running.
DK: Got it. So, as I as I told you before we started recording here, you know, the theme, the concept, the through line, the purpose, of this show is to help listeners think about the the really fundamental role in one's life that conversations—just like you and I are having...
DK: ...without the microphones, right(?); but that conversations turn people's lives. That's the that's why it's called Tell Me What To Say; because people come to me wanting to know what to say, but it's actually what they come up, with their creativity, their leadership, whatever it may be. My point is that—can you think back in those formative at Columbia College and all the rest?—is there a conversation that you had—going toward your career goal—do you remember with a teacher, or a friend, that, that immediately comes to your mind's eye as you as you think about this?
LW: Well, yeah, I mean I think a particular professor there was Michael Fry, who was at Columbia when I was there, who I really fought to get in his class because he, he was, like, the one of the most famous teachers there because he wrote on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He was an intern on The Cosby Show. He was one of the people that wrote on Parenthood, which was a show Robert Townsend did. So he really had experience in the industry, and I was eager to learn from him. So, I got in his class. And in a lot of conversations he and I had were about, you know, The Business. You know he would tell us about his experience, and how he was like, “I was on top of the world one day and then the next day I was like, OK, what I need a job,” where everything sort of dried up. So I remember those conversations about him saying, “well, it's cyclical, and it's one minute you're, like, on a hit TV show, and then it goes away, and you're kind of back at square one.” So I remember hearing him be talking to us about being very cautious of that—about never feeling safe and never, you know, resting on your laurels. And I remember that very much. But also I remember we had to write spec scripts in the class, and spec scripts are pretty much, like, you take a show, you act as if you're a writer on the show, and you write a script for that show. And so I'm writing the specs for girlfriends in his class and him at the end of the class, him saying, “Look, I never give out As ‘cause that's not, like, what I do. But, you know, if you get, you know, a B Or C, you should be really happy about it,” or something. And so, as we sort of all got our our our scripts back, I saw that he had given me an A, and I was like, oh man! And he looked at me, sort of like winked and said, “You know, you should really go out to Los Angeles and give it a shot. You got something.” And I remember that having a big impact on me, and I'm still in communication with him. When he comes out to Los Angeles—and I always connect. And he was he was texting me before, and after [The Emmys®] Sunday.
LW: You know, he's someone that really—I mean, I'll never get that conversation about him really saying, or seeing something in me, um, and that, in those years, really gave me the confidence I needed to to really come out here and really pursue the dream.
DK: That's good. Yeah, well, your story here perfectly, pretty perfectly, exemplifies sort of why I do the work, to be honest with you. And, for people who are listening, you know, it's so interesting; we talk about important conversations in people's lives. It's obviously with an intimate way, but, but I bet seven out of ten over my time, are pointed to teachers that influenced us. And watching you tell that, I could see you seeing, you know, that really happening in front of you, and it sticks with you today.
DK: And the whole point that I try to make is we can't do that on email. It was nice of him to text, but, you see my point is that is that if you're really going to have a conversation about something that matters to you, you've got to connect. In person.
LW: Absolutely. Yeah.
DK: So speaking of in-person. So I what what... how I was exposed to you, as a fan of the show, I didn't, you know, I didn't go in and I.M.D.B. when the first show started coming on, so I knew you as Denise. You know, as the friend, right? And, you know, you, have a distinctive presence on the screen, as you all do in your own way on the show. But, when did that acting come in? Because you talked about going and pursuing and being encouraged...
DK: How did the acting, obviously which got the first attention for you, right...
LW: I always give credit to Allison Jones who is a famed casting director. She cast Freaks and Geeks, she cast Bridesmaids—Veep—I mean some you name it, like, she's phenomenal. And so she was brought on to cast Aziz's show, and he sort of did a very unconventional thing where he said, “Well, before you bring people in to read scripts,” he asked; or he said, “Can you just send some interesting people, like, to meet with.” For by the grace of God she mentioned my name and she said, “you should meet Lena Waithe,” and that became—she knew me because she—they read something about me, or saw me do something, or something. I actually I'd love to have Allison tell me what it was..
DK: What was it, right?
LW: what was—that I don't know—I've heard a couple different things. But anyway she became aware of me, and obviously I wasn't acting or anything, or she became aware of me, I think as a writer. and I was I was in Minneapolis, we were producing Dear White People at the time, and I got a call from my then manager that said, “Hey Allison Jones was to meet with you.” I did not know who she was—I'm not super familiar with casting director names. And he says, “She's a really famous casting director”, and he was, I think—she would have said a lot of it, “I'm not casting anything right now.” He's like, “No, but like she wants to have a general [meeting] with you.”
So... I came back to Los Angeles, went and met with and her literally the next day. And she just, you know, we had a really lovely conversation about—obviously she has just fantastic taste in television. We talked about TV, times when I growing up, and then she to sort of asked if I any aspirations of acting and I said, “No. I don't. No I don't, I'm like I'm a writer.” And she goes, “OK, well you should think about it,” or, “I'd love to bring you in for some things.” And so I said, well, “OK.” And she did. She brought me in for an episode of Veep, she brought me in for the Amy Schumer movie that ultimately became, uh, Trainwreck, and then... brought me in for the second season of The Comeback, which was a favorite show of mine. It was short-lived on H.B.O. because but because it was so popular, it so generated a cult following, they brought it back ten years later. So I got a call from her to say, “Hey come in, read for The Comeback.” I did. I booked that part. It's a small tiny part on The Comeback.
And and then one day I got a call that said, “Hey, they'd like you to go to Aziz Ansari's house.” And I was like "“OK!” And I did. I went to his house and sat with him and Alan Yang. And again, I didn't know anything about the show, didn't know he had a show on Netflix. I was very out of the loop. I just knew I was going to sit with him, and it obviously was going to be an acting opportunity, because it came from Allison Jones' office. But I didn't know anything about it. So I just went sat with him—with those guys—and to sort of talked about my life. And I've recently met and fallen in love with Alana, so I just talked about that. I just talked about being from Chicago. I was just, like, we were sort of shooting the shit.
And and then I got a call saying he wanted me to read with him, and I went and I did that. And we went and did that in Alison's office, and she recorded it. And from the moment we read together, there was something very instinctive and magical, and really cool about just our voices, like meshing together. So and then I came in for another call back and then we did a test and him and Alan called me and offered me the part. So that's really how that happened. I mean, he was being very unconventional about the casting process, which actually makes sense, now that I know Aziz and Alan a little bit better. Um, and Alison for some reason, and they said it just in person, she thought of me and I'm just really grateful, and I wouldn't be on the show, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Allison telling them about me.
DK: Did you always think you were unconventional? Right? I mean, it's such a great word to describe so much.
LW: I, you know what; I don't think that I'd use that word. I think I always thought I was unique. Think I always thought I was a little different. But, I think maybe being a little bit more and better than industry, I've realized I'm unconventional, compared to everyone else around me. But just in my life being around my friends and stuff, OK, I guess there's something about me. But you don't think about that. You don't think of yourself in those terms. And so, but compared to other people in the game, and saying that like, people are saying, “Oh you're different. You're a breath of fresh air. You're special.” I think that comes once you've sort of been in your field for a bit, and people can kind of say, “Well, you stand out for this reason.”
LW: Before that I never been thinking of—
DK: —thought of it.
DK: But now we segue to the to the show; to THE show. It's episode in the second season...called...
LW: Episode Eight.
DK: You've never had to figure that one, huh? So, so called Thanksgiving.
DK: And, we'll get to Thanksgiving. I'm always curious now what you're going to do for next Thanksgiving, but, but but... It is about difference. And it is about bridging differences and of course I got to say and put in the parentheses here, through conversations. So, certainly some of that was dramatic license that you had to take for the writing of the show. But there is such a clear theme that you took unconventional. An unconventional way, a different way of looking at the world, grew up at least depicted from using your imagination about Jennifer Aniston, to the whole process of how you talk to your friend about it and all the rest. As you thought about those conversations,right, and then needed to re-depict them for the show; how did you go about not the writing process, but what happened to make all that come forth into that, what, thirty minutes, right? How did you.. how did you get there?
LW: Well, they all really started from me going to New York to visit the writer's room, which Alan and Aziz were running at the time, to just sort of talking about my life and I what was going on. Which is what we always do—we sort of use our lives as fodder for the show. So I have been very mindful of that. And coming into Season Two, and just taking little notes about little things that can be funny or can make for a cool anecdote in an episode. So I thought I was prepared when I walked in and I told them all these different things—they were really liking it. And then Alan Yang, was the co-creator the show said, “Well, how did you come out?” And I proceeded to tell them stories about my mom. And you know, what that was like, and how it was a process, and what kind of kid I was—and me being a tomboy. And I sort of told them the journey, you know, just by myself. I always had that sort of a one-woman show version of the episode in the writers' room with them. And they really were sort of fascinated by it and that but I didn't think anything of it. And then when I went back to my hotel room they called me and said that's that we want to do an episode about that. And I said, “Oh, OK.”
DK: How did that feel?
LW: It felt a little surprising, because I guess I've never thought of my coming-out stories that—I don't know, fascinating or interesting. I know is a little unique, uh, but I just, I never thought about telling that story, or being—because I always thought we were very much in the here and now, so we've never gone back in time and done that kind of thing. So that's why I was sort of surprised—I was like, “whoa, how is that going to work?”
But luckily Aniz Ansari, who was Aziz's younger brother, came up with the idea of sort of telling it through a series of Thanksgivings, which kind of we could play with time. And then Aziz was like, “You got to help write it.” And I was like, “What?” Not that I wasn't flattered, but I had so much on my plate. I mean at the time, I was going to go to London to film a movie. I was still trying to get my Showtime show green-lit—the series—so I was, you know, I was at a full plate. And I also trust those guys. I could tell them anything and they could turn into a Master of None episode. And so I feel proud of it and honored to do it. So, I, but I think they just felt like it was so specific to me. And because the story was so personal, they were, like, you have to your hands it to be in it, so I did agree. I said, “OK.”
And, and then ultimately, because again my schedule took me to London, and Aziz came to London to write it. And we wrote it in three days in a hotel room. And it was just an amazing experience. You know, he, we passed the laptop back and forth. There are certain scenes in which he, like, even left the room to me like coming-out scene, a couple of other scenes at the dining room table. And you know, the first time around experiencing it, was not fun per se, because it was every the stakes were so high. I was not super confident as to what the outcome was going to be. It was not a fun time of my life. But ten years later, writing it and being, you know, in a very successful position, I was able to have some perspective. And I was able to really understand my mother's side of it a little bit better. And that's what the process of writing it really was for me as understanding what it was like for my family to have to deal with something that they never talked about; understood, dealt with. Um, I think at the time I wasn't as sensitive to it. I think at the time, I was really frustrated and just wanted to be accepted, and didn't want to make a big deal of it.
But in writing, I realized, “Oh, that is a big deal.” Like, that's not something they know anything about; they're very uncomfortable with it and—not unlike in real life—it's a process to accept it; to have a better understanding of it. Or to not even have a understanding of it, but just to be able to embrace it, understand it; even if it's not something you, you know, have a lot of experience with.
So for me it was a learning process and one in which I have, I really gained a lot more perspective, from not just me coming out, but what it's like for people that are being come out, too. And that's really how sort of all was born—it was very organic. And I'm just really happy with the way the process went to making it. And then, obviously enter Melina, enter Angela Bassett; and all these amazing people that... really brought this piece of work to life.
DK: Yeah. So let's go to what appeared to me to be obviously the diner conversation. So when people watch the show, which of course everybody needs to, you know, subscribe to Netflix, and check this ,check this one out, specifically. Really—let the siren go by here—this is in, this is in real-time Los Angeles.
LW: Yeah, man.
DK: The, the the question I have is, number one, was it in a diner?
DK: It was. Where you talked to your mom?
DK: And as you watched— so you wrote it—and then you watched it. What do your remember feeling—and in essence, I talk about people telling the voice in their head...
DK: Do you remember what your voice in your head was sayin', as well, first off, as you were having the conversation?
LW: Yeah and in real life...
DK: Real life...
LW: Yeah, and you know... I think it was.. I was just sort of like surprised that I even had to come out. I think that was the thing. ’Cuz I think I was so... I’ve never not been myself. So for me that was the biggest thing that I was sort of raging against or I was like... I was so confused as to how my family didn't know, or like, why they were confused, like, that was the thing that was in my head—that was like—I was mad that I had to actually come out.
DK: You were mad there in the diner.
LW: I was, I was frustrated.
LW: And I wrote that into the dialogue. Um, because that was—and that's what's so funny that's put my inner dialogue and put it..
DK: there you go...
LW: ...in the character's mouth. But at the time that I was really frustrated. I was like— it can't—couldn't be more evident. But the thing is, is that which I know, as a career person in the world, is that it's a rite of passage. You know it doesn't matter how masculine identifying I was, or if you're a man who was very effeminate. It doesn't matter. You have to say the words. You have to you, have to say it. You have to own it. You have to say it to your—you have to say it to your family.
And I think that was the biggest thing for me, as I was rebelling against that. I didn't, I didn't want to have to do that hard thing. It's not easy. It is very difficult. And I just felt like it was so obvious that I was a gay person, and I was like, “Why do I have to explain this to them?” And, um, but I think again, my learning process and writing is that. But I—that is part of my job, unfortunately. I do have to explain. I do have to have the conversations, because if I don't, they'll be left in the dark. They won't understand. And, and I can't always be explaining and try to make them understand everything. I can't do that. But it is—it comes [with] the territory, whether I like it or not. And I wasn't a fan of it at the time. And I've gotten—I'm much better about it now. I'm happy to educate. I'm happy to answer questions now, but I think at the time I was very rebellious and really frustrated by it.
DK: Yeah. There was some—for a way maybe for you to think about this going forward—or for the listener—there was some really interesting sociology study, you know, research, that was done at Stanford a few years ago where they couldn't—they were, they were confused or concerned in the research as to why people couldn't get things. Why when someone knew something, why was it, why were they hitting the wall of trying to explain to someone what was so obvious.
DK: Just like you just said.
DK: And here's what they found. I won't go through the whole study, but they develop something called “the curse of knowledge.” And what that means, and what I think—if I may, with all due respect—what you were going through in that diner, or at least a version of it, was that you had forgotten what it was like to not know it. Hang with me on this. You were, of course—you knew it, right? You lived it. You'd wrestled with it. You shared with your friends, your sister... however it worked. And you had it. And what frustrates people mostly in conversations—this happens in sports a lot—why can't they just run the play, right? Well, people don't know, or the people who don't know what it's like, don't have your experience. And I'm not by any means critiquing you, but one of the lessons I hope, in its own way, that I hope the listener and the viewer of your show comes away with, is that it's really about helping the other person understand.
DK: Not just being right yourself, right? And you did, in the episode. That's what's so great about it. You really helped the character—your mom, right, work through it, and understand it on her terms, as difficult as those were for her.
DW: And I thought you beautifully, really portrayed, the curse of knowledge. And, that people wrestle with, on an ongoing basis.
LW: So, that was very helpful. That was beautifully said.
DK: Yeah we'll see that's the thing, and now, I want to get to sort of how you're—how you deal with this in general. Because at the heart of, certainly the work that I get to do, it's never about easy things. Change in a company is not an easy thing. Becoming a leader of an organization is not an easy thing. People wish it was, but anything worth doing, as you know, is not easy. So the theme, really, here for me, and one of the reasons I really pushed to get to —even before the award, right—we set this up weeks ago—was to get a sense of somebody who is now very deliberately, both in the way they carry themselves, the way they communicate, and the conversations that they both write, and then I'm sure have in the world— the pursuit of making a difference. Important conversations make a difference. I'm beating the drum on that, right?
So my question for you is, as you have these difficult conversations, right? Both in real life, and then also obviously in this beautiful depiction on the show. How do you stay to it? How do you—so some people say what happens—you know—don't you sometimes just want to stop, right? And, and, just, just quit the fight. But watching your speech the other night, you were clearly energized. You talked about the cape, of being, you know, put on your—in essence your super person, super skills. So you are obviously in this for a fight. What keeps you motivated to deal with all of the obvious difficulty in adversity, right? What's in the heart and the head behind this?
LW: Well, I think I've come from—look—I think black people in this country have no choice but to be survivors, educators; to always be resilient. You know I is I never...our history in this country is never far away from our brain in terms of my ancestors, and how they were brought over this country. How they helped build it, fought wars for it. Helped make it what, what this country is. So, for me as an artist, who has a platform, I think it's important that I maintain that tradition of making art that is not only entertaining, but informs, that humanizes. That makes people feel validated, like they're seeing themselves. And, that's the bigger picture for me—is to inspire. Is to remind people who are othered, who—which I think I think they need that reminder the most. That our lives are just as valid. Our voices deserve to be heard as anyone else.
And that you know, it's not going to be easy for us. We're going to have to fight. We're going to have to stand up for ourselves, and we're going to have to do it with a level of elegance that most people don't have to. So, I think our former president Barack Obama is a prime example of that. So that's the bigger thing for me. Yes, I write television. Yes, I write comedy. Yes, I have a really cool the gig. But for me, if there is a bigger purpose that I'm serving, and I, I do believe that I am the epitome of my ancestors wildest dreams, and they are never far from my mind. I'm, you know always thinking of them, and always mindful of the bloodline from which I step forth. So that's what keeps me motivated. That's what keeps me fighting. That's what keeps me reminding those young people who may be queer, people of color, may be women. To say that you know your crowns have been paid for—we should wear them proudly.
DK: So, one more question. So, you got a standing ovation the other night. More I think it, sort of felt like when they always had that you know when that honorary winner come out on The Oscars®, and you, know you had to stand up. But what my wife—we were watching you last night—after we watched a show, what she noted was people rose in waves. I don't know if you caught that up there, but first they started..
LW: A little bit..
DK: ...and then your friends stood up. And at least the way the camera covered it—is it it happened—so obviously—my point before I get to my question is—you got one of the few standing ovations of the night. That must have been something to stand there and—
DK: and watch, right?
DK: But the question I have in the spirit of that is—fair or unfair, I'm going to ask, why do you think you won? Because those are great shows that you beat.
DK: Why do you why did they pick what was it about you and Aziz and this moment that made them in, a weird industry is you know. They grabbed on to you and they stood. What was it? What is it?
LW: You know, I can only speculate you know, but I think there was something about it because even though my story is very specific to about me being a gay, young, black girl trying to grapple with my sexuality and identity, and trying to find acceptance within my family... that's what that's the specificity of the story. But I think there's also something about what it means to be the odd duck. What it means to be, you know, not feel at home and not to feel different in your own clan. And I think there's something about people in the in this town, this industry, that they all feel that. They don't have to be gay, they don't have to be a person of color, they don't have to be a woman, but I think there's something about this town and all of us that we, we felt a little weird at our dining room table. You know, always felt, you know, like there was always something different about us. And I think that people just... I think I was just really speaking from the heart. I think Aziz and I both really just came from such a pure place and again it was very specific. I have—I want—to tell that story I can only tell it the way I remember it.
And you know it also, also incorporating those conversations at the dinner table at Thanksgiving, which are very specific to my house, but I'm sure that there were—there are those conversations—they happen at dinner tables all over the country about race, about what's happening in the news, and you know your aunt and your mom have a difference of opinion about certain things. But I've kind of feel like ultimately there's something that people latched on to about it, because they saw themselves in me. and, and that to me is such a huge honor and a privilege. And as I was doing the Emmy® parties and the things like that leading up to the to Sunday night, so many artists that I respect and love were coming up to me, just like, you know, some some straight, some gay, some white, some black men and women just saying “I know that. I felt that.” Or, “that absolutely touched me,” and/or, “your vulnerability really touched me.” I think there I think that people are hungry for stories like that and you don't often get them. And I think when you do, it just it just feeds the part of your soul that's starved.
DK: Yeah, well, you know.. that that sounds absolutely absolutely right. And I got to note that what you just described was from the people coming up to you, and the way that you approached it, in sitting with Aziz in the hotel room in London, and all the rest, were just—it could have been done no way, no other way, than face-to-face. And, you know, good eye contact and all the things that I tried to—when people say, “tell me what to say”, that's what we, that's what we strive for. And they want to [put a] bunch of bells and whistles around it. But it's got to come down to the expression, and the reception, of real genuine emotion and meaning. And of all the things I've seen in a long time—and I've been watching TV longer than you have, right? You folks nailed it—in such a great way.
So I lied; I've got one more question. You know I'd ask this: what are you doing on Thanksgiving? This Thanksgiving. What's it gonna, going to—who's really at the table?
LW: Well you know, it's funny. Alana and I are going to go to Japan for Thanksgiving. It will be our first Thanksgiving together. She often goes home to Cleveland; I usually stay back and kind of house-hop. So it will be our first Thanksgiving together. She has a very close friend that lives in Japan, and I've never been, so we're going to go. And we're not going to have a traditional Thanksgiving, but we're going to go, we're going to spend time with friends, and we're going to stay at the, you know, the famous hotel from Lost in Translation.
DK: Yeah, Park Hyatt.
LW: You know we're just going to have a good time and hang out, and hopefully make some some Thanksgiving memories of our own.
DK: That's great. Yeah, congratulations. Thank you so so much for being here. You just told a very important set of stories and provided some very, very, hopefully, key guidance for people who are trying to make a difference with their life. And I'm humbled by being around it. It's what I try to do in my own way. And you have you have struck out, way out in front of some really important issues for us today. So thank you so much..
LW: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.