In the This Is Us episode “That’ll Be the Day,” Kate (Chrissy Metz) decides to adopt a pet and present it as a gift to Toby (Chris Sullivan). When Kate goes to the animal shelter, she meets a passionate animal caretaker. This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker describes the character as “a super cool East Side L.A. woman who loves dogs and cats – and finding them homes.” The casting is outstanding, as it always is on This Is Us — where the dramatic arc, serious storylines, and high quality writing attract top talent.
The animal shelter woman is portrayed by Lena Waithe. As an actress, Waithe is known for her role as Denise on Netflix’s Master of None, where she is also a writer. In 2017, Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the Master of None episode “Thanksgiving.” (Waithe shared the Emmy Award with Aziz Ansari). The Chicago native Waithe was one of the producers on Dear White People, and is the creator of the autobiographical drama on Showtime The Chi. The 33-year-old Columbia College of Chicago graduate is engaged to her girlfriend of three years, Alana Mayo (photo below). Waithe will appear next on the big screen in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC, right before Chicago Med.