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Lena Waithe just knew Melina Matsoukas was the right person to direct ‘Queen & Slim’


ABC/Randy HolmesLena Waithe says she knew Melina Matsoukas was the perfect person to direct her critically acclaimed film Queen & Slim.

The film, which was initially released on Thanksgiving Day 2019, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a new couple who go on the run after a minor traffic infraction turns deadly. Waithe says it also happened to be “Thanksgiving” — sort of — when she first got a glimpse of Matsoukas’ directing skills.

“‘Thanksgiving’ on Master of None– folks don’t know [that] the episode that I won the Emmy for, it was directed by her,” Waithe tells ABC Audio. “Which, I still think she got a little snubbed, because I think the direction of the episode is phenomenal. And the episode to me wouldn’t be what it is if she hadn’t directed it.”

“But, we were working together, and it was like MJ and Quincy [Jones],” she recalls. “The vibe was immediate, and she could feel it. I could feel it. And…I was working on Queen & Slim at the time. I wasn’t done yet, but I just knew. I was like, ‘Oh, I think she might be the move for this movie.'”

Even though Waithe says she was “aware” that it would be Matsoukas’ first movie project, the Emmy-Award winner says she still felt that Melina was the right person to take the helm.

“I knew it needed to be, like, someone special to come in,” she says. “And even though I’m cool with a lot of directors…it was just the right thing for us to come back together and do this. And so now we the new tag team.”

Queen & Slim is available on DVD and streaming.

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