The GLAAD Wrap: Lena Waithe signs a deal, Jussie Smollett releases debut album, and more!

Every week, the GLAAD Wrap brings you LGBTQ-related entertainment news highlights, fresh stuff to watch out for, and fun diversions to help you kick off the weekend!

1) Lena Waithe has just signed a deal with Sight Unseen Pictures through her own production company, Hillman Grad. This deal includes financing and developing new projects that will “identify and champion emerging voices currently underserved in the marketplace.” Showtime’s The Chi, which Waithe created and executive produces, is currently airing. Last month, TBS ordered a pilot for another series created by Waithe, Twenties. Check out a trailer for the upcoming episode of The Chi below!

2) Egyptian Filmmaker Sam Abbas is launching the first ever “Arab-based film company that will focus on movies with LGBTQ themes”. ArabQ will open with Abbas’ first film, The Wedding, which centers on a closeted man struggling with his sexuality before his upcoming marriage. The film stars The Bold Type-fan favorite Nikohl Boosheri (Adena). Abbas stated that by placing the company in Egypt, it will be a great chance to encourage “more queer cinema with Middle East ties.”

3) Out actor and comedian Tig Notaro has just been cast in Paramount’s new comedy, Instant Family. The film will center on a couple who decide to start a family by adopting three children. Notaro stars alongside Octavia Spencer as the social workers who cause more drama for the couple. Production is set to start next month.   

4) Gay actor and musician Jussie Smollet is taking part in the Epix docuseries, America Divided. Smollet is among the list of five public figures who will “look at the most provocative news headlines and cultural topics in recent months.” Smollet is also an executive producer of the show. Smollet is best known for his role on Fox’s hit Empire. He plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of Lucious and Cookie Lyon. Empire is set to return on March 22nd with the second half of season three. Smollet has been busy within the world of music as well! His debut album, sum of my music, hit shelves today!

5) Blood Orange, or Dev Hynes, released a short album earlier this month, titled Black History. The two songs on the album are “June 12th” and “Christopher and 6th.” “June 12th” specifically deals with the intersectionality of being a queer black man, and how these identities have shaped his life. Blood Orange’s next album is likely to be released sometime this year. Check out the song below!

6) Out country singer Chase Sansing has just released his new single, “Begins with You.” Sansing has said that this song is representative of his own experiences as a gay man. “I wrote this song specifically to reach out to kids that are like me and are growing up in a small town thinking they are different and that there’s something wrong with them and that it’s a bad thing,” he continues. “I hope this song shows them that it’s not and they are perfect the way they are.” Watch his music video below.

7) Kelela, the out musician and GLAAD Media Awards nominee, has just released an animated video for her song “Frontline.” Watch her music video below! In other music news, pansexual musician Russel Elliot has just released the music video for his new single “I’ll Be Damned.” His song comes off his new EP Split Ends, which is set to be released next month. Much like his first EP, Split Ends will also deal with the details of queer relationships. 

8) Fischerspooner has recently released their new album after almost a decade. Sir is all about queer relationships in the digital age. Casey Spooner has stated that he thinks the album is more important now than ever as the album specifically focuses on queer stories in a climate where our voices are often sidelined. Check out one of the songs of the album, “Butterscotch Goddam,” below!

9) Jill Soloway, the creator of the award-winning Amazon show Transparent, is set to launch her own Amazon publishing imprint. Topple Books is meant to “spotlight the voices of women of color, gender non-conforming, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer writers.”

10) Lavender, a short film that is currently seeking funding, follows the story of a young gay Latinx man who becomes wrapped up in the relationship of an older couple. According to director Matthew Puccini, this film is “a tender, poignant look at an unconventional relationship as it blossoms and ultimately unravels.” To learn more about Lavender, click here, and watch the Kickstarter video below!