We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re DGA!
A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Storytellers

November 18, 2023 A DGA LGBTQ+ Committee Event

On November 18, DGA members gathered online and in the Boardrooms of the Guild’s Los Angeles Headquarters and New York offices for the LGBTQ+ Committee’s event, We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re DGA! A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Storytellers. The live bi-coastal panel discussion featured a special keynote address by DGA Award-winning Director George C. Wolfe (Rustin); and Directors Desiree Akhavan (The Miseducation of Cameron Post), Steven Canals (Pose), Silas Howard (Darby and the Dead), Adam Shankman (Hairspray) and UPM Kendall L. Nichols (The Morning Show) in a discussion about their personal journeys and careers moderated by Director Jamie Babbit (Only Murders in the Building) and UPM George Bamber (S.W.A.T.).

The event kicked off in Los Angeles with a greeting from Committee Co-Chair Paris Barclay who welcomed all the attendees to the event and introduced DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter in New York.

Speaking to the attendees on both coasts and online Glatter said, “Since its inception in 2021, the LGBTQ+ Committee has continued to expand its commitment to educating, speaking out, and opening doors for our LGBTQ+ members. I wholeheartedly applaud the Committee's incredible dedication and tireless efforts to advance inclusion and equity for our LGBTQ+ members. Today we honor the resilience and vision of the many talented LGBTQ+ Directors and their teams, who bring thoughtful and compassionate viewpoints to their craft. While more progress remains, please know your Guild stands hand-in-hand as an understanding ally on the path toward a more equitable, welcoming industry for all.”

Glatter then turned the proceedings back over to Co-Chairs Barclay and Kimberly Peirce in Los Angeles and John Krokidas online from North Carolina, all of whom spoke about the work of the Committee.

“For the first time, DGA members who identify as LGBTQ+ elected fifteen representatives to serve as their leadership for these efforts, and we’ve been hard at work since then. There are more firsts to come, but we are just getting started,” said Barclay. “This committee was formed to meet each other, share stories from the trenches, and prove we should and will not be left out of the cultural conversation at large,” added Krokidas.

“The 2023 LGBTQ+ survey has helped us to see what our members want: to showcase LGBTQ+ members, ensure workplaces are safe, address sexism and respect pronouns,” said Peirce.

Activities & Events Subcommittee Co-Chairs Daniella Eisman Mark Hansson then welcomed moderators Babbit and Bamber, who introduced keynote speaker Wolfe.

During his address, Wolfe spoke about the current state of the nation as certain regions appear to be rolling back rights of LGBTQ+ citizens.

“We’re in an interesting dynamic, where people aren’t just going after one’s rights they’re going after one’s history,” said Wolfe. He also spoke about how storytelling can aid in the fight against that trend. “Owning and claiming fully your history gives you another edge in the power of dividedness… so the stories that we tell allow people with the ability to defy and say, ‘No, I know me. I am this version of myself.’”

After Wolfe’s address, Babbit and Bamber introduced the panelists, Akhavan, Canals, Howard, Shankman and Nichols, who engaged in an enlightening and engaging conversation about their careers and navigating the industry via an LGBTQ+ lens.

Canals continued Wolfe’s message about owning LGBTQ+ history via storytelling and said, “It’s important for us to excavate our queer and trans history because if we don’t do it no one else is going to. I look forward to the day where we can all say, ‘This is the story that we want’ period.”

Akhavan spoke about the power that a Director can bring to the fight. “The cool thing about directing is it’s about making up your own rules and that’s how I feel in this age of the industry. I’m not pleased with the way things are done and I don’t think anyone is, and there’s this excitement of saying, ‘How do I shift this to fit my point-of-view?’ and ‘What I think is the right way to work?’”

Howard said, “The goal of my work is to put new faces on the screen and not explain why,” and stressed the importance of moving LGBTQ+ stories from the sideline to the mainstream. “Maybe we’re not niche. Maybe the kids are very queer and authentic storytelling works every which way.”

Nichols spoke about how she uses being queer as her superpower and stressed the importance of continuing the fight for equal rights. “Whatever we have been doing is somewhat successful, keep pushing and pushing, and continue to be out and open.”

Capturing the spirit of the day, Shankman shared his hopes for a more inclusive future. “I  want us to be able to bring more joy to the table and celebratory experiences as opposed to how hard and horrible the queer experience is.”

The panelists and Wolfe all fielded questions from the live and online audiences during a Q&A session and the event was capped by a reception celebrating the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ members of the Guild and the stories they tell.

See videos from this event in the gallery below.

About the Keynote Speaker: 
George C WolfeDirector George C. Wolfe
A DGA member since 1990, Wolfe’s directorial credits include the feature films RustinMa Rainey’s Black BottomYou’re Not You and Nights in Rodanthe; and the episodes “Fires in the Mirror” of the series American Playhouse and “The Colored Museum” of the series Great Performances. He was nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series in 2017 for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and won the award in that same category in 2005 for Lackawanna Blues (in a tie with Joseph Sargent for Warm Springs).
 About the panelists:
Desiree AkhavanDirector Desiree Akhavan
Akhavan’s directorial credits include the feature Appropriate Behavior; episodes of the mini-series Tiny Beautiful Things; and episodes of the series I Love That for YouHacksMonsterlandRamyBriarpatch and The Bisexual. Akhavan’s feature, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Dramatic in 2018. Akhavan joined the DGA in 2019. 
Steven CanalsDirector Steven Canals
Canals’s directorial credits include episodes of the mini-series Class of ‘09; and episodes of the series Neon and Love, Victor. Canals also served as the Director, Co-Creator, Writer and Executive Producer of the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning series Pose. Canals joined the DGA in 2019 and serves on the LGBTQ+ Committee. 
Silas HowardDirector Silas Howard
Howard’s directorial credits include the features By Hook or by CrookA Kid Like Jake and Darby and the Dead; and episodes of Quantum LeapA League of Their OwnDickinsonEverything’s Gonna Be OkayTales of the CityHigh MaintenancePoseStep Up: High WaterThis Is UsTransparent and Hudson Valley Ballers. Howard has been a DGA member since 2015. 
Kendall NicholsUPM Kendall L. Nichols
Nichols’s production management credits include the series The Morning Show and Perry Mason and the mini-series The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Nichols also has Assistant Director credits on series such as Yellowjackets, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, GLOW, Big Little Lies, Transparent, Black-ish, The Comeback, The Mindy Project and Weeds. A graduate of the DGA Training Program, Nichols joined the DGA in 2009. 
Adam ShankmanDirector Adam Shankman
Shankman’s directorial credits include the feature films DisenchantedHairsprayThe Wedding PlannerA Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Bedtime Stories; and episodes of Only Murders in the BuildingModern Family, Glee, MonkBeing Mary Jane, as well as the pilot for the series, Step Up: High Water. Shankman has been a DGA member since 1999. 
Jamie BabbitDirector Jamie Babbit (moderator)
Babbit’s directorial credits include the feature films But I’m a Cheerleader, The Itty Bitty Titty Committee and The Quiet; the pilots for the series Only Murders in the Building and A League of Their Own; and episodes of the series Awkwafina is Nora from QueensFirst Wives ClubRussian DollThe Marvelous Mrs. MaiselSorry for Your Loss, Silicon Valley, Girls, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Supergirl, Looking, Drop Dead Diva, United States of Tara, The Middle, Dirty Sexy Money, The L Word, Gilmore Girls, Nip/Tuck and Malcolm in the Middle. Babbit earned Emmy Award nominations for her directorial work on the series Only Murders in the Building and Silicon Valley. Babbit has been a DGA member since 1999 and serves on the LGBTQ+ Committee and has served on the Television Creative Rights Committee and the Independent Directors Committee. 
George BamberUPM George Bamber (moderator)Bamber’s production management credits include features such as Michael Arden’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Josh Rhodes’ Beau and episodes of the series The Crossover and Hacks. Bamber also has Assistant Director credits on features such as Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy, Jason Moore’s Pitch Perfect, Brad Furman’s The Lincoln Lawyer and Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt; series such as S.W.A.TAtypicalTribeca, Colony, Hit the Floor, Glee, Tyrant, Ironside, Touch, Undercovers; and the mini-series The Power Inside. Bamber has been a DGA member since 1990. 

About the Committee:
The LGBTQ+ Committee was founded in 2021 as a provisional committee to explore ways to educate, inform, address the concerns of and create opportunities for members who identify in these categories. At the DGA National Board meeting on January 8, 2022, the Board voted make the LGBTQ+ Committee an official standing committee.The Committee is dedicated to empowering and advancing the professional interests of LGBTQ+ and to promoting and working for employment equity throughout the entertainment industry. The Committee’s Co-Chairs are Directors Paris Barclay, John Krokidas and Kimberly Peirce.

Pictures & Video

photos by Quintin Lundy (Los Angeles) & Marcie Revens (New York)

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