Dustin Lance Black | Creator, Showrunner | Under the Banner of Heaven
Dustin Lance Black
Creator / Executive Producer / Writer / Director
A native Texan raised in a devout LDS home, Dustin Lance Black is now an Academy Award®-winning filmmaker, writer, social activist, husband and father. He won the Academy Award and two WGA Awards for his screenplay for Milk, the film about activist Harvey Milk which starred Sean Penn. In 2018, Black received the Valentine Davies Award from the Writers Guild of America for his body of work.
Black was a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which successfully led the federal cases for marriage equality in California and Virginia, putting an end to California’s discriminatory Proposition 8.
Black’s best-selling, award-winning memoir Mama’s Boy was released in 2019. Produced by Amblin TV and Playtone, acclaimed filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau has adapted Black’s book into a forthcoming feature documentary. Black also wrote the soon to be released Netflix feature film Rustin, a biopic about the esteemed civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, and Black is currently directing the feature documentary Rock Out with Live Nation and Bill Gerber producing.
In 2017, Black created, produced and directed the ABC miniseries When We Rise. The miniseries chronicled the true stories of the personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a handful of activists who pioneered the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. The miniseries garnered numerous accolades including the 2017 Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Award and Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards.
In 2012, Black merged his creative and civil rights work with 8, a play based on the Federal Proposition 8 trial. The play’s casts have included George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Jane Lynch, Martin Sheen and John Lithgow. 8 broke viewership records when it was first broadcast online live from the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The play has now been staged in eight countries and all fifty states with all proceeds benefiting LGBTQ+ equality efforts worldwide.
In 2011, Black earned his second “10 Best of the Year” award from the American Film Institute as the writer of J. Edgar, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and was directed by Clint Eastwood. From 2004-2008, Black drew on his Mormon upbringing as a writer and co-producer on HBO’s Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated drama Big Love starring Bill Paxton. During this period, Black also penned the screenplay Pedro about the life and legacy of famed, openly gay, HIV positive Real World cast member Pedro Zamora. The film premiered on MTV and VH1 in 2009 and earned Black his second WGA Award nomination.
In addition to his creative work, Black was one of the co-founders of the Uprising of Love Coalition that sought to raise awareness of violence and discrimination committed against LGBTQ+ people in the global community. Black also served for three years on the board of the Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth crisis hotline, where he established a hotline in Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street in San Francisco. And in 2009, Black was one of a handful of organizers of the National Equality March where he demanded full federal LGBTQ equality before an audience of over 200,000 demonstrators on the steps of the Nation’s Capital.
An honors graduate of UCLA’s School of Film and Television, Black began his career as an art director before moving into directing documentaries and commercials. His documentaries On the Bus (2001) and My Life with Count Dracula (2003) led to producing and directing TLC and BBC’s hit program Faking It, which received notice for its unflinching sociological commentaries.
Black has taught screenwriting at UCLA, Emerson, Bowling Green, USC, and has lectured at countless other universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Penn. He has appeared regularly on the BBC, MSNBC and CNN as a political commentator and has been repeatedly named one of the 50 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in the United States and the United Kingdom.