Emmy-Winning Television Producer Lena Waithe Starts Hillman Grad Records in Partnership With Def Jam
Photo Credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival

Emmy-Winning Television Producer Lena Waithe Starts Hillman Grad Records in Partnership With Def Jam

Lena Waithe is taking her talents to music!

The Emmy-winning television producer just took a leap into the music business and is partnering with Def Jam Recordings to start a new label, Hillman Grad Records, reports Variety. 

For Def Jam, the goal of this collaboration is “leveraging opportunities across music, TV, and film…to capitalize on the cultural significance generated when these worlds meaningfully intersect.”

“Music and storytelling have always gone hand in hand,” said Waithe in an official statement. “And I think that’s because musicians are the storytellers we love the most. They can take complex emotions and simplify it in four minutes, the same artist can sing about the revolution and falling in love. Music is a part of us. It’s so often connected to our fondest and sometimes our darkest memories. Musicians tell our story.”

 

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While no artists signings have been announced, Hillman Grad already has top executives in place for the company.

Albert Cooke, the imprint’s general manager returns to Def Jam where he formerly served in the artist relations department along with Soundcloud. Tebs Maqubela is the new label’s head of A&R bringing his talents over from Columbia Records.

Both execs will report to the two chiefs of the label’s parent company, Hillman Grad Productions: Waithe, CEO, and Rishi Rajani, president of film and TV.

“At Hillman Grad Productions we believe in identifying and amplifying new talent,” continued Waithe, “and we want to continue to do that in the music industry. Jeff Harleston (Def Jam’s interim CEO) and his phenomenal team at Def Jam have given us their trust and their resources to help develop artists that not only have potential but staying power. We look forward to the journey ahead.”

Most recently, Hillman Grad Productions is responsible for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival breakout “The 40-Year-Old Version,” released on Netflix last fall, and the 2019 feature “Queen & Slim.” The production company’s comedy series “Twenties,” is looking ahead to a second season on BET.

Current Hillman Grad projects include a Sammy Davis Jr. biopic based on his daughter’s memoir; “Talent Show,” a Universal feature to star Cynthia Erivo, Amazon’s “Them” and “Reawakening,” and more.

It looks like Waithe doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon!