×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Remote Controlled: ‘When We Rise’ Creator Dustin Lance Black on Donald Trump, Importance of LGBT Stories

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Dustin Lance Black about his miniseries “When We Rise,” which tells the true story of LGBT activism over 45 years.

Black says he’s pleased with the critical and viewer response — unlike anything he’s ever experienced, he says — but now wants the series to be used as part of the high school curriculum about the social justice movement.

Black first started working on the series when he heard that LGBT stories were being optioned by ABC — a network that his conservative military family in the South trusted. “It was just one of those once in a lifetime opportunities … when would I get a chance again to introduce LGBT families to my family,” Black said. “Literally to my family in the South, in this conservative area, so we could start to understand we’re not quite so different.”

Black also said that ABC allowed him to spend a year traveling across the country to find new names in the LGBT advocacy movement, rather than bringing back the names many are already familiar with. He wanted to include those who had been involved in the movement their whole lives, and had come to the LGBT rights movement from other causes, such as women’s rights or the peace movement.

“And eventually I had found this little group that had formed a makeshift family in 1972 in San Francisco and even though many of them weren’t natural leaders at the time, they stepped up,” he said.

Black wasn’t planning on depicting Cleve Jones, the role played by Guy Pearce, but eventually realized how rare a figure Jones is in the activist arena, having stayed an activist long past the three to six years Black described as the average lifespan of an activist.

Black also described the backlash from the “alt-right” — which he describes as a “cleaned-up” version of white supremacists — the series experienced after its trailer went viral.

“It was a reminder that, unfortunately, this is coming at a really critical time in our world and in this country, and we need to be having these conversations,” he said. “I do not think that most people that voted for Trump are that racist and hateful, and I’m hoping to not only share the story with LGBT people and people interested in equality, but also with some of the folks out there that may come from families like mine that are conservative families.”

Black also had a message for the President, who he doesn’t think has taken the time to watch “When We Rise.” “I don’t think he would be doing the things he’d be doing if he’d seen it,” says Black. “That’s unfortunate. He clearly takes the time to watch the news, to check in on how he’s doing. How about the fact that you’re the president of the United States, sir, and you represent all of us? So when we put out onto a major network a story of a good portion of your population’s lives, could you please tune in, sir, and you might understand why it is we’re so upset at some of the things you’re doing?”

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

More TV

  • Jason Sudeikis Apple

    Jason Sudeikis Sets Ted Lasso Comedy Series at Apple

    Jason Sudeikis is bringing his Ted Lasso character to Apple’s upcoming streaming service. Variety has learned that Apple TV Plus has given a series order to “Ted Lasso,” on which Sudeikis will star in addition to writing and executive producing. In the series, Sudeikis plays Lasso, an idealistic all-American football coach hired to manage an [...]

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued by Police Interrogation Firm

    The company behind a controversial police interrogation technique filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case. John E. Reid and Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s, and it has continued to offer training materials [...]

  • Noah Oppenheim

    NBCU Has Likely Succession Plan Set at NBC News

    NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been battling Ronan Farrow in recent and disturbing headlines, but the executive remains the most likely candidate to succeed NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, according to people familiar with the matter. Lack, who has seen NBC News through one of its most tumultuous eras, has a contract [...]

  • Succession Season 2 Roman Gerri

    How 'Succession' Turned Rich-People Problems Into TV's Most Satisfying Drama (Column)

    It was only as the credits rolled on the Season 2 finale of “Succession” that I realized I was standing. At some point during the exhilarating final scene, I’d apparently leapt to my feet, radiating with the thrill of watching the last meticulously placed domino fall. It was startling to understand just how invested I’d [...]

  • '100% Wolf - Legend of the

    '100% Wolf - Legend of the Moonstone' Leads Most Viewed Show at MipJunior

    Animated series “100% Wolf – Legend of the Moonstone” from Germany’s Studio100 Media topped the poll of most-watched shows at MipJunior, the children’s content market in Cannes, which wrapped Sunday. The series follows the adventures of Freddy Lupin, a young werewolf who has been accidentally turned into a poodle, but is determined to prove he’s [...]

  • jay-wallace-fox-news

    'News Stars' Will Fill Shepard Smith's Slot, Says Fox News President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shepard Smith has left the Fox News building, but his hour will remain staffed by employees from the network’ news division. Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Shannon Bream, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer and John Roberts are among the Fox News Channel news anchors who will do a stint in the 3 p.m. hour vacated [...]

  • craig-ferguson-join-or-die

    Craig Ferguson Game Show 'The Hustler' Gets Picked Up by ABC

    Comedian and host Craig Ferguson is returning to the airwaves with a new trivia game show series at ABC, “The Hustler,” in which one player will already secretly know all the answers. The format involves five contestants working together on a series of trivia questions, with the aim of growing and winning a collective prize [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content