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Diversity in Entertainment

By June 29, 2016No Comments

The Final Deadline for Diverse Voices Season 3 is April 15th, 2017. Make sure to enter here.

The mission of Diverse Voices is to provide a contest that is purely focused on promoting and encouraging diverse voices and stories. The contest's hope was to find stories that are told from perspectives – through the author and/or characters – that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today.

We're so happy to say that the response to this contest was unbelievable. We received entries that explored the diversity in the world around us in truly compelling ways. The stories starred characters who exist in the world but far too often not in Hollywood.

Our finalists have all explained why diversity in entertainment is so important – at an individual level, but also in the grand scheme of art and world influence. The messages they shared were inspiration, encouraging, eye opening, profound, and sometimes heartbreaking. Here's just a little of what our finalists had to say:

As a sixty-five year-old gay man, I believe I may have even more to say than I did in my youth, even if Hollywood might think otherwise. Sadly, when my longtime partner, Mark, passed away in 2005, there were words left unsaid; two simple ones that should have been our legal right. "I do."

Black folks don't survive in the future. That's a Hollywood fact. Growing up in Richmond, CA, I never saw characters like this, like me, living in the future. The ones I saw on screen didn't share my struggle, so I couldn't connect.

The world and its makeup are changing at an exponetial rate. People are ready to see stories about new and diverse characters.

For the transgender community, the reality of who they are on the inside and how the world perceives them on the outside is a core part of their identities and everyday struggle.

I refuse though to view being a woman as a hurdle, but rather an inherent strength. The freedom to express a unique voice is one of the most empowering gifts one can bestow upon oneself, and others.

I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where too often the struggle to survive undermines the ability to succeed.

In 2016 if you are born to the wrong social class a higher education may be out of your reach. If you are born female or gay or transgender you have no guarantee of equality and in fact have members of your own government that vote to ensure that you will never be equal.

We wanted to prove that believing in us was not a mistake.

For decades, gay folks have gathered in clubs and resorts, away from the dangerous and judgmental world.

Many diverse characters still suffer from tokenism or the burden of being more clever, virtuous, or heroic than anyone else in the story.  This isn’t accidental—it’s the same prerequisite we have for allowing diversity in life.  How many women or people of color have expressed the necessity to be the “best” just to be considered?

My background gives the dual vantage point of the eastern and western cultures, through the eyes of my heritage and the culture in which I was raised.

As a 52-year-old creative writer who's been "out of the closet" for 32 years, I've been a vocal advocate and activist for LGBTQ rights since the AIDS crisis of the 1980's. Because of my sexual orientation, I have been persecuted, assaulted, excommunicated, fired, and denied access to basic rights — painful experiences that I should resent but I won't.  For those experiences have given me the rich and insightful context to construct compelling LGBTQ stories that will move audiences.

Thank you to all of our finalists who allowed us to share some of what you had to say about diversity in entertainment. Thank you to everyone who entered the Diverse Voices Screenwriting Competition. We can't wait to announce the winners on July 15th.