“The Chi to me is a family,” says Lena Waithe, creator and executive producer of the Showtime series set in Chicago’s South Side. “It’s about a family, about a community, and the thing that I always press us to do things that other shows may be afraid to do and to talk about things that other shows may not really want to tackle.”
Joined by Chi showrunner Justin Hillian, the Emmy-winning Waite was on board for Deadline’s Contenders Television awards-season event to discuss the series, which wrapped its third season in August and is back for a fourth season this year beginning May 23.
“We just want to be as honest as possible and just always looking at that nothing is really black or white,” Hillian said of the third season, which brought the tumble of Windy City politics to bear amidst the love and loss. “You know, we try to stay in that grey.”
Having debuted in early 2018, the drama executive produced by Common that looks at the trials and tribulations of life of the predominately African-American neighborhood has never shied away from asking the hard questions and focusing on hard facts of life, liberty and the institutions of American life in one of our great cities.
“For us, we’re never chasing a story, we’re always just making sure to tell one, and I think that is what Justin did so eloquently in Season 3,” Waithe said of the showrunner. “He really took the reins and said a young black woman really should disappear in this community …it’s really about removing the cops from the storyline and letting the community really step in, and I think that was a storyline that’s timeless because Black young women, and Black youth and Black people, go missing all the time and don’t get the press that they deserve.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.
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