American Masters


Lena Waithe on mixed feelings towards Blaxploitation

Despite the mixed feelings that many Black people have towards the genre of film, producer, actor and writer Lena Waithe says that "if Blaxploitation gives us Pam Grier I'll take it any day."

AIRED: January 18, 2021 | 0:01:59

- I know that Blaxploitation,

some Black people have a love-hate relationship with it

because a lot of it was made by white filmmakers.

A lot of it was, I mean, it's in the name,

people felt it was exploitative.

But some of it, there were some Black filmmakers

that got to cut their teeth in that arena.

And also, too, a lot of Black movie stars

got a chance to shine because of that time,

because those films, and if Blaxploitation gives us

Pam Grier, I'll take it any day.

Just because what she represents is something so special

and so unique and so specific and she, I really believe,

represents the best of us and that fierceness that we have

and that there's a strength in her beauty.

There's an audacity in it.

And that is something that we, as Black women,

sometimes need to be reminded of

because we're all Pam Grier, whether we know it or not,

whether we like it or not.

We all have that in us and I think when you look

at Pam Grier, you can't help but to see the person

you wanna be every day, even if you don't wake up

and be that.

And I also really love that Pam had a turn

at "The L Word," as well.

So I think for the queer Black community,

Pam took on a whole other sort of persona for us.

But she really does

she does touch on a lot of generations

and I think that if people only think of Pam Grier

in terms of just the big Afros and the bikinis

and the big posters,

I think you're really missing the point.

I think she was also a revolution onto herself.


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv