“I want to thank [founder] Beverly Bond and the entire team at Black Girls Rock and everybody at BET,” Waithe said as she accepted the Shot Caller award. “I really want to thank y’all for reminding folks that gay black girls rock, too.”
The actress, producer and screenwriter discussed her recent decision to cut off all of her hair, telling the crowd that she had kept it as a way to make people feel more comfortable with her gayness.
“I was holding on to a piece of myself that felt feminine. And that piece of femininity made people feel comfortable,” she said. “But then I came to the realization that that’s not my job. I don’t have to make people feel comfortable with the way I choose to walk through the world. So I decided to get free.”
She continued: “For me, it was hair. For you, it might be something else. But whatever it is, I want to encourage you to stop letting it hold you captive … I want you to get free of your narrative.”
Waith encouraged people to “get free” of restrictive stereotypes that have held black women back for so long.
“Let’s get free of the idea that we can’t go after our dreams because of how we look, where we come from, who we love or how old we are,” she said. “We all have gifts and we can either lock into those gifts or act like we don’t exist. You can’t live your dream if you don’t go after it.”
As director Ava DuVernay told Waithe before presenting her with the Shot Caller award: “You embody what black artistic excellence is about — changing the game by changing the narrative and centering us.”
We couldn’t agree more.