Less than a week after the trailer was released for Girls Room, Lena Waithe responded Wednesday to accusations that she stole the concept for her new series from original creator Nina Lee.
“There has been an accusation floating around that I want to address. In 2019, I partnered with @Dove for their project #GirlsRoom. Prior to my joining the project, in 2017 a @Dove partner came up with the title and the concept from which my scripts were based. I was brought on to write the scripts and produce the content,” Waithe wrote in a post shared on Twitter.
“I have never seen Nina Lee’s work nor would I ever steal another artist’s work. As a fellow creator myself, I can only imagine how she must be feeling and I look to #Dove to give us more clarity on the situation. Now that I’m aware of Nina Lee, I look forward to seeing her art,” Waithe added.
Girls Room was commissioned by the Dove Self Esteem Project for the ATTN Instagram channel. The digital series revolves around a group of high school-age girls who become close friends after meeting for the first time in a restroom at a club. They confront a host of issues varying from body image, to bullying as well as the impact of social media. The characters are named after the Little Rock Nine: Melba, Minnie, Thelma, Gloria, and Carlotta.
Lee first brought up the similarities between Waithe’s work and her own on Feb. 21, after the trailer for Girls Room debuted. The screenwriter said the storyline was the same as her 2017 project, called The Girls Room.
In an interview with OkayPlayer, Lee said she wrote The Girls Room while studying screenwriting at Spelman College. The video was later posted online and went viral, but she ran into problems amid efforts to sell the show and claimed she accidentally signed away the rights.
“It became this huge thing and everything that could go wrong with this really went wrong,” Lee said. She offered an additional explanation on Twitter.
“I made a lot of mistakes when it came to this show. Mistakes I can still feel. And I wish I knew then what I know now. We were young and didn’t know what we had on our hands. But thanks everyone involved! I’ve written 4 shows since then so if you’re an investor holla at me,” tweeted Lee, who goes by the Twitter handle Nina Serafina.
Dove issued a statement to the media, insisting any similarities between the two projects were “unintentional.”
“Dove started working on Girls Room with our partners in early 2017, and we’re proud to have teamed up with ATTN: and Lena Waithe to bring the vision to life,” the company said. “The name of the series was developed before Lena or ATTN: were added to the project and was selected because our scenes mainly take place in the Girls Room, any similarity to other creative projects is entirely unintentional.”