Here is LaToya Morgan, Co-Creator & Executive Producer of ‘Duster,’ giving her acceptance speech for our Changemaker Award during the 2020 gala, Origins: In The Beginning.
LaToya Morgan Speech:
“Thank you so much for this beautiful award and for honoring me; I’m so grateful for it. Shout out to all the phenomenal students who participated this year under some real challenging circumstances with the pandemic. You created some fantastic and truly moving short films. You should be so proud of yourself. I know I’m proud of you.
Watching your films was so inspirational; it reminded me of when I got my start not that long ago. It reminded me of my origin story; when I began my career as a writer, I didn’t have any Hollywood connections. Not one. But what I did have is a passion for writing and filmmaking. All I wanted was that one chance to tell meaningful stories about people who looked like my family and me. Who had struggles and triumphs like they did. And I wanted a chance to dream and imagine stories even bigger than those, so I was really persistent. I kept sending out my scripts and stories even when everyone kept saying no. I just needed that one shot, that one yes. Finally, after a lot of hard work and writing a lot of scripts, I got that yes. Thank you, Shameless! When I got my foot in the door, I saw a huge need for more people who have diverse backgrounds in TV and film. And any personal progress I made, I did my best to help shine a light on people who needed that one chance as I did.
I want to live in a world and work in an industry where amazing stories like these short films are the rule, rather than the exception—a world where more people of color, more women, queer folks, and people with disabilities get to sit at tables of power. We, collectively as an industry, have the power to do this by simply doing one thing, saying yes more than we say no. So I challenge all the phenomenal people I work with, and the people I don’t know yet who are in this industry who care about creating stories that matter, to say yes to supporting organizations like Film2Future. But don’t stop there; say yes to opening your doors to more filmmakers of color and new talented voices who need that one opportunity to shine. Say yes to looking at your studios, production companies, and film crews to see where you can be more inclusive and push the envelope. Panels and speeches about diversity are great, but taking action is even better. Now, more than ever, we have to do the good work, the good hard work to level the playing field in Hollywood. So lets’ roll up our sleeves and get to it—I promise you it’ll be more fun when more people get to play in the sandbox.
To the students, I say keep believing in yourselves, keep telling your amazing stories. I can’t wait to see what you do next, and you know I’ll be watching. And to the industry, let’s open up doors, knock down barriers and let’s take big swings. And let’s say yes. I know we’ll all be better for it. Thank you again for this beautiful award. I’ll continue to do the hard work.”