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Although I’m currently working as the managing editor for Windmill and I’m studying English, I have another job as an intern at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and I’m studying television writing and producing. I wouldn’t call the dual nature of my pursue of these two degrees exclusively different as I often use what I learn about storytelling in my English classes as a way to create better narratives in my scripts, channel more energy into my acting, and promote stronger ideas through my creative visions. Those are beside the point of why I wanted to bring up television.
The landscape of TV, and the entertainment industry in general, has been going through a much needed cleansing over the past year. Sexual harassers are being called out, and due to public backlash, their careers are being ended. Note how I phrased that. I had to say “due to public backlash,” because the only big cases I can remember over the last year that was settled before the public got word of it was Matt Lauer. Harvey Weinstein did not step down until after many actresses stepped up and called him out, Jeffrey Tambor was removed from the cast of Transparent months after claims were made against him, and a resolution as to whether or not Ryan Seacrest gets the boot out of E! still remains unsolved at the time of this writing.
Let’s focus on some positives to lighten up the mood. TV has never been more diverse, and even though the proportions of white TV producers to PoC TV producers (3:1) is still REALLY bad, it’s an improvement from ten years ago. Shows that put diverse casts at the forefront (Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Insecure, Atlanta) are the ones that are getting picked up not only because it’s what popular culture wants and has so desperately needed, but because they are big money-makers.
That statement stands true for film. Get Out had the largest opening weekend for a black director until Black Panther came out and had the largest opening weekend for any Marvel movie ever. With A Wrinkle in Time coming out this weekend, a movie that had the highest budget with a black female director (my queen, Ava DuVernay), God only knows the impact that movie will have on pop culture.
Let’s not leave the LGBT+ community out of this either. Queer Eye is back on Netflix, Call Me by Your Name won Best Written Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars this past Sunday, and, according to a GLAAD study from last year, LGBT+ characters made up for 6.4% of all fictional TV characters, an increase from the year before.
I’ll admit, as a gay Indian man, seeing myself on TV has always been a struggle. I’ve mostly been portrayed as a stereotype as the socially-awkward Indian creep with an incredibly thick Indian accent. Sure, there have been some mild developments over the last few years, but nothing that stuck out to me.
But that’s why I want to be an entertainer. I want to be a part of the change that’s currently sweeping Hollywood. When Mindy Kaling pitched The Mindy Project, she was adamant that the show get picked up because no white male producer is going to ever pitch a show with an Indian female lead. We have to make the change that we want to see. I’ve stood by that claim since I came into Hofstra as a TV major, and I’ll stand by it until I accept my first Emmy and my last Oscar.
For creative nonfiction selections, we have two pieces discussing dual natures of race from two Windmill alum: Luisa Kay Reyes and Annie Dawid. In “Secrets,” Luisa looks backs on her time in high school, contemplating the societal concept of passing. Annie Dawid discusses and wonders about a public’s assumptions of her mixed-raced son in “What They Call Him.” Our final creative nonfiction essay, “The Divide” by Sara Alaica, illustrates and juxtaposes her childhood in Canada against her cousin’s childhood in pre-breakup Yugoslavia.
For fiction selections, we have “The Visitor” by David Lloyd. This piece is part of a sequence of short stories about Welsh-American identity in the 1960s Utica, New York, focusing on Welsh immigration to America. “The Visitor” is a delightfully haunting piece about a elderly woman reminiscing about a missed chance for love back at her home in Wales. Our final piece, “Unsolved” by Brandon French, details the musings of a 71-year old retired FBI profiler as he thinks back on his life and his love of stealing.