Careers

Lena Waithe, who was once paid with a $10,000 pair of Nikes, shares her philosophy on spending

 Lena Waithe
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV
 Lena Waithe

Actress, producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe is known for her hustle.

In 2017 Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. She won acclaim for her writing and acting on Netflix's "Master of None," is the creator and executive producer of Showtime's "The Chi" and has worked with industry legends like Steven Spielberg and Ava DuVernay. This year she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair and grabbed headlines in a rainbow cape at the Met Gala.

Waithe says the hustle that informs her career is central to her financial philosophy as well.

"I wouldn't say I'm great with [money]," Waithe tells CNBC Make It . "I'm a spender. I am not a frugal person. I'm the kind of person that would rather just spend the money than waste the time trying to save it. My mission is: I want to live the life I want to live, so I'm going to work hard to afford it."

Nike Air Yeezy 2 'Red October'
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Nike Air Yeezy 2 'Red October'

Waithe's spending weakness? Sneakers. Her most prized pair are Nike Air Yeezy 2 "Red Octobers." The limited-edition Nikes were designed by Kanye West.

West has since left Nike to work with Addidas, making the shoes rare and expensive. The collectible kicks are currently being sold at Walmart for $10,413. At sneaker consignment store Stadium Goods a pair goes between $6,500 and $8,400. High-end sneaker consignment store Fight Club currently sells pairs priced anywhere from $6,785 to $15,000.

Waithe got her pair when she agreed to be paid for a job in footwear.

"I did a video and some promo for Sneaker Con, and they were like, 'We'll pay you in a pair of sneakers.' I was like 'Oh, OK well then, I want the Red Octobers' — which are sort of a holy grail sneaker, because there aren't many of them made and [they] obviously aren't going to be made again and I had been trying to get my hands on them for a long time," says Waithe. "I think I've worn them once, but I love them, they're pretty cool. They're the kind of shoes you keep in a box, but I'm really grateful to have them in my collection."

In addition to being a collector's item, Waithe sees sneakers as an investment.

"I'm also an adult, like I just bought a house and we're doing renovations, so that's what I'm spending money on right now," she says. "I just got a Tesla, but I bought that, and I think it's environmentally sound. There are things that I'm not spending money on that are long-term investments, but I think sneakers are a long-term investment, too. I plan on keeping them and taking good care of them."

It's hard work, she says, that determines success — no matter what industry you work in.

"If you want to be extravagant and you want to have s--t and you want to buy s--t, then you have to really hustle," she says. "There are people who do that, not just in the entertainment industry but in every industry really. They work really hard to live a really comfortable life."

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