'Lena Waithe Is Changing the Game,' says Vanity Fair. So is VF Editor-in-Chief Radhika Jones

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Vanity Fair's April 2018 cover.
Vanity Fair's April 2018 cover. Credit: Vanity Fair

Jennifer Lawrence appeared on the March cover of Vanity Fair, the first issue under the editorship of Radhika Jones, who was named in November to succeed Graydon Carter. The cover was a perfectly fine if utterly unsurprising choice (Hollywood A-lister Lawrence, who's already appeared on hundreds of major magazine covers around the world, had a movie, "Red Sparrow," to promote).

But in her editor's letter for the April issue, Jones makes it pretty clear that the J.Law cover was basically a leftover booking from the previous VF administration. The April cover starring Lena Waithe that you see above was actually "my first Vanity Fair cover shoot," Jones writes, and she flew to Los Angeles to oversee it (Vanity Fair is headquartered in Manhattan). Jones continues,

Our subject had initially caught my attention through her television work—playing Denise, the wise, occasionally wiseass lesbian sidekick to Aziz Ansari's Dev on the Netflix series Master of None—and then through her speech at the Emmys last fall, when she became the first black woman to be honored for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. "The things that make us different, those are our superpowers," she said, accepting the award for an episode in which Denise comes out, a story based on her own experience. "The world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it." When I thought about the kind of person I'd like to see on the cover of Vanity Fair, I thought about Lena Waithe—a member of the new creative elite remaking entertainment for her generation. And now here I was, watching Annie Leibovitz focus her lens on Lena.

Jones notes that Waithe's career momentum—including her imminent big-screen debut in Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" plus more TV work ("The Chi" on Showtime and a pilot picked up by TBS)—made the decision to have her front Vanity Fair an easy one. Still, the cover has become a social media sensation, with Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay among those praising it:

Meanwhile, Waithe has been soaking up the love, retweeting some of the many ecstatic reactions to her cover, including:

And as of this writing the pinnned tweet on Waithe's Twitter account is an expression of gratitude—accompanied by some rather excellent and elaborate hashtags:

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