Join Manila Luzon of Ru Paul’s Drag Race as she hosts a fun and engaging panel discussion with three entertainment leaders from the LGBTQ+ community. Vernon Sanders, Co-Head of Television at Amazon Studios, Emmy award-winning writer, creator, producer and actor Lena Waithe, and playwright Matthew López share their unique insights and perspectives about working in film and television and how being LGBTQ+ has played a role in their lives and careers.
Emmy award-winning writer, creator and actor Lena Waithe has proven herself a talent to be reckoned with, who only continues to grow her body of work with diversity and charisma. She made her film screenwriting debut with Universal’s QUEEN & SLIM, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner Smith and directed by Melina Mantzoukas. Waithe first made headlines in Netflix’s MASTER OF NONE which she received the Emmy® Award in “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” and NAACP Image Award nomination for the “Thanksgiving” episode she co-wrote. Currently, Waithe serves as the creator and executive producer for the critically acclaimed Showtime series THE CHI, which was just renewed for a fourth season, Amazon’s highly anticipated horror anthology series THEM, and her semi-autobiographical series TWENTIES also on BET, which was also just picked up for a second season. From her numerous television successes, Waithe was named The Hollywood Reporter’s 2020 “TV Producer of the Year,” the youngest to receive the honor. Her other producing projects under her production company, Hillman Grad Productions includes Rhadha Blank’s Sundance Directing Award winner THE 40-YEAR-OLD VERSION, debuted on Netflix October 9, Amazon’s series based on Neil Paik’s Six by Eight Press short story REAWAKENING, SISTERS and DEAR WHITE PEOPLE. Waithe will also produce a Sammy Davis Jr. biopic based on the 1996 biography “Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father,” written by Davis’ daughter Tracey Davis and Dolores A. Barclay. Also just announced, Waithe has penned the script for Universal’s forthcoming TALENT SHOW. Cynthia Erivo is set to star in the drama with Waithe serving as an executive producer alongside State Street Pictures and Rajani will oversee for Hillman Grad Productions. On the acting front, she most recently appeared on the small screen in third season of HBO’s critically acclaimed WESTWORLD and Justin Simien’s horror satire BAD HAIR now streaming on Hulu.
Matthew López is an American playwright and screenwriter. His play The Inheritance, directed by Stephen Daldry, premiered at London’s Young Vic in 2018, where it was hailed as “the most important American play of the century.” It transferred to the West End later that year, and opened on Broadway last autumn. The Inheritance is the most honored American play in a generation, sweeping the “Best Play” awards in both London and New York including the Olivier Award, Drama Desk Award, Evening Standard Award, London Critics Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Honors, Drama League Award, GLAAD Media Award, WhatsOnStage Award, and the Southbank Sky Arts Award. He is the first Latinx American writer to win any of these awards for Best Play. In New York, Matthew’s work has been seen off-Broadway with The Whipping Man (Manhattan Theatre Club), and The Legend of Georgia McBride (MCC Theater), productions that received Obie, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Other works include Somewhere and Reverberation (Hartford Stage), The Sentinels (Headlong Theatre, London), and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (Denver Center). Matthew is currently writing the musical adaptation of the classic film Some Like it Hot. He has written for HBO and Netflix, developed films with Plan B Entertainment and Working Title Films and is currently adapting The Legend of Georgia McBride for the
Vernon Sanders was named Co-Head of Television at Amazon Studios in June 2018. Sanders oversees all scripted and unscripted original programming, alongside Albert Cheng, including Emmy Award-winning series, Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, hit dramas like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and The Boys and the upcoming miniseries, The Underground Railroad, written and directed by Barry Jenkins. He reports to Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. Prior to joining Amazon Studios, Sanders served as Executive Vice President, Current Programming for NBC, overseeing more than 25 shows each year over his seven-year tenure, including This Is Us, The Good Place, and Superstore. Previously, Sanders acted as Senior Vice President, Drama Programming, for both NBC and Universal Television, and as Senior Vice President, Comedy Series for Universal Media Studios, where he was responsible for the creative supervision of the studio’s comedy programming efforts, including the Emmy Award-winning series 30 Rock and The Office. Sanders also led the first year of the studio’s Director in Training program. Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and video from Pennsylvania State University.
Manila Luzon, is an American drag queen, recording artist, comedian and reality television personality. Luzon came to international attention as a contestant on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and on the first and fourth seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. In June 2019, a panel of judges from New York magazine ranked her 19th on their list of the top 100 drag queens in America. Manila was also featured in Amazon Studios 2020 Virtual Pride Celebration, Pride Inside!