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Lena Waithe on "Queen & Slim": Black people have to "create the heroes that we need"

Lena Waithe on "Queen & Slim" as "protest art"
Lena Waithe on "Queen & Slim": Black people have to "create the heroes that we need" 05:24

Lena Waithe is out to "break convention" with her latest project, "Queen & Slim," a film that follows a black couple who accidentally kill a white police officer in self-defense during a traffic stop. The first black woman to win an Emmy Award for comedy writing told "CBS This Morning" she wanted to "put people of color in the center of a narrative" that "we are in a war that we didn't start."

"I feel like black people, when they walk out their door, they go to war every day," Waithe said.

The idea for the film began when she was approached by James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces."

"He came up to me at a party, and he said, 'Hey, I have an idea for a movie that I can't write.' He's like, 'It's a black man and black woman on a first date, on their way home. Police officer pulls them over, things escalate very quickly, and they kill him in self-defense… And then they decide to just get in the car and go.' And I was like, 'You're right, you can't write that,'" Waithe recounted. 

It's important, particularly for the black community, to "create the heroes that we need," she said.

Waithe also said she thinks of her work on "Queen & Slim" as "protest art."

"I know Nina Simone said it is an artist's duty to reflect the times. And I believe I'm doing that, I'm reflecting the times in which we live. I believe it's open season on black bodies," she said.

Queen & Slim - Official Trailer by Universal Pictures on YouTube

When she hears on the news about another officer-involved deadly shooting of an unarmed black person and then comes to hear that officer was back on the force weeks later, she said it is "very traumatizing" for her.

"I think for some people, it's just a news story. But whenever I see a name come across the screen, a part of me dies," Waithe said.

For her film, she said viewers will see that it's layered – and "just like black people aren't a monolith, neither are police."

"But I do think that when black people see the police uniform, it represents something that can be scary, that can be dangerous. And it could be the end of your life," Waithe said.

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