As she took to the stage to accept the Trailblazer Award at this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards, Lena Waithe shouted out the stars of the iconic, pioneering LGBT documentary Paris Is Burning. The actress, writer and producer thanked “Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Korey, Angie Xtravanganza and Willi Ninja” and more.
She said, “I believe the only reason why I’m even allowed to stand here is because of a few other trailblazers that some of you might not be aware of. And I discovered these trailblazers when I watched a brilliant documentary I saw many years ago called Paris Is Burning. A lot of people featured in this film are no longer with us, but their legacies will never die because they live on in all of us, and every time someone says ‘shade,’ or talks about ‘reading,’ or just decides to serve face for no reason at all, please look up to the sky and give thanks, because we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. They strutted through a brick wall so we wouldn’t have to.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 19, 2018
Paris Is Burning documents “The Children” and centers on the challenges that transgender women, gay men and drag queens faced in their daily lives as well as in their preparation for the ultra-competitive ball circuit. The film earned the Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance in 1991.