While on the red carpet for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual grants banquet, actress, writer, and producer Lena Waithe was asked about her recent haircut.
Waithe, who’s known for sporting her signature dreadlocks, had a shaved head on the red carpet. In response to her new cut, the Emmy Award winner said, “I’ve gotten gayer, guys.” It turns out that Waithe had been thinking about the hair change for a while but wasn’t sure of how the world would see her.
“I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am,” Waithe told Variety. “And I think I thought for a long time, ‘Oh, if I cut my hair, I’ll be a stud, I’ll be—in the gay world, there’s a lot of categories—I’ll be a stud or I’ll be a butch,’ and I’ve always thought, ‘Well, no, I’m not that, I’m still soft,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I gotta put that down ‘cause that’s something that’s outside of me.’”
Once she cut her hair, Waithe said that she felt “so free and so happy and so joyful, and I really stepped into myself.”
Waithe went on to say, “If people call me a butch or say ‘she’s stud’ or call me sir out in the world—so what? So be it. I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of makeup, and a haircut—I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?’”
This new change proves that the Master of None writer and The Chi creator is a champion of challenging gender roles and stereotypes in both her personal and professional lives. Her work has disclosed the hardships that LGBTQ people of color face while existing in the world. It’s even more poignant to see Waithe addressing these same issues in her own life, even with something like a haircut.