Master of None: Lena Waithe opens up on her ‘raw’ performance ‘Worked through some stuff’

Master Of None: Lena Waithe stars in season three trailer

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Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s award-winning Netflix drama, Master of None, returned for its latest instalment at the end of May. Supporting actress Lena Waithe returned as Denise to lead the series with co-star Naomi Ackie, and she recently revealed more about the challenges of taking her performance to the next level.

Actress, writer and producer Lena Waithe has revealed what it was like to take on a leading role for the first time in the new season of Master of None.

Starring as Denise since the first instalment of the Netflix drama, Waithe headed up the show’s long awaited third outing, subtitled Moments in Love, with co-lead Naomi Ackie.

Before taking on an increased role in the five-episode season three, Waithe explored more of her character in a standalone episode of the last season.

However, in a recent chat with Deadline, the actress admitted there was much more pressure on her to step her game up this time round.

Waithe explained: “With this season, it definitely felt like a little more pressure to step into Aziz’s shoes and be in the centre.”

She then apologised to her co-star and joked: “I’m sorry Aziz, I didn’t know it was that much pressure, but it was a lot.”

Denise taking on a central role wasn’t the only major change for this iteration, as showrunners Ansari and Yang took a much more subdued and slowed down approach to the show’s style.

Meanwhile, Aziz Ansari’s Dev takes a backseat in Moments in Love, only appearing for brief scenes in two episodes of the new series.

Having been seen in supporting roles in series such as Westworld, as well as the 2018 blockbuster Ready Player One, Waithe finally got the chance to do some real heavy lifting in the new Master of None.

When the cast and crew were discussing the new season, however, she considered hiring an acting coach to ensure her performance as Denise was up to standard.

The actress recalled: “I asked Aziz, I was like ‘should I get an acting coach?’

“‘Because I don’t wanna mess this up, and this is really intense’.”

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She also revealed that starring alongside the classically trained Star Wars star Naomi Ackie inspired her to take her performance to new heights.

Though she assured viewers she always felt completely comfortable with Ackie on set, Waithe needed to tap into her personal experiences to fully nail down her portrayal of Denise.

“What I ultimately had to do was to really be in it, to be in the scene, to bring stuff with me that day.

“I didn’t get to always be my jovial self. I was pulling from things that I knew, things that I was still working through.”

“It’s probably some of my proudest work as an artist, because it is raw. You’re seeing me work through some stuff on screen.”

Lena Waithe’s intense process certainly worked, as the new season is already predicted to continue Master of None’s winning streak during this year’s award season.

After taking a break for over four years, the show’s complete makeover has also won over fans who are more excited than ever to see where it goes next.

Master of None: Moments in Love is available to stream on Netflix.


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