Dustin Lance Black is a screenwriter, producer, director and social activist, having won the Academy Award and two WGA Awards for Best Original Screenplay for Milk, the biopic of the late civil rights activist Harvey Milk starring Sean Penn. He is also a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) which successfully led the Federal Case against Prop 8 in CA with lawyers David Boise and Ted Olson, and continues to work for LGBT equality today.
In 2012, Black merged his passions with 8 a new play based on the Federal Prop 8 trial. Black’s LA cast included George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly. The play was broadcast live and continues to break viewership records online. 8 has now been staged over 400 times in all 50 states and 8 countries.
An honors graduate of UCLA’s School of Film and Television, Black began his career as an art director and quickly transitioned to directing documentaries and commercials. Black’s documentaries On the Bus (2001) and My Life with Count Dracula (2003) debuted to acclaim and lead to a successful stint producing and directing TLC and BBC’s hit program Faking It, which received notices for its unflinching sociological commentaries.
In 2004, Black signed on to draw on his Mormon childhood experiences in San Antonio as a writer and co-producer on HBO’s Emmy and Golden Globe nominated polygamist drama Big Love. He continued to write for the show through its 3rd season in 2008. During that time, 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 earned Black his 2nd WGA Award nomination when it premiered on MTV and VH1 in 2009.
In 2011, Black earned his 2nd “10 Best of the Year” award from the American Film Institute for his Clint Eastwood directed screenplay J.Edgar starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He recently completed The Barefoot Bandit based on the true story of Colton Harris-Moore for FOX, and is now adapting Jon Krakauer’s acclaimed Under the Banner of Heaven about Fundamentalist Mormonism for director Ron Howard. Black’s feature directorial debut Virginia (Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris) arrived in theaters May 2012.
Since winning the Oscar in 2009, Black has split his creative time in order to fight for LGBTQ equality at the Federal level. Beyond working with AFER, he served on the Board of the Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth suicide hotline, for three years. Black has also been on an international equal rights speaking tour, and was one of a handful of organizers of the LGBT March on Washington in October 2009 where he spoke to an audience of over 150,000 demonstrators in front of the Nation’s Capital.
Black has had three books published, has written for every major screenwriting magazine, contributes to The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post, topped the list of OUT Magazine’s “40 under 40,” and has repeatedly been named one of the 50 most powerful LGBT people in America today.
"Lance was awesome. He delivered a terrific speech, and he was very gracious with everyone who approached him. We had a great turnout, and both receptions went very well. His message was inspiring. One faculty member told me today she thought it was the best event we had ever had here."- Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus
"Let me just express to you what a pleasure it was to work with Lance as the Opening Keynote of the NASPA Annual Conference. He was personable, kind, funny, genuine... His speech, simply put, was brilliant. He had the people’s attention from the moment he started to speak and he never lost it. Many of these folks have attended over 20 of our national conferences, and no other conference opening even comes close. As a committee, we have been joking that Lance set the bar so high this year, it will be impossible for next year’s committee to top it!"- Stonehill College
"Lance was awesome! What a powerful speaker. We were so glad to have him on campus!"- University of Michigan
"Lance was amazing! Great message, great talk. We had well over 600 in attendance and he got a standing ovation. He answered everyone’s questions and it was a great meet and greet with many selfies. Thank you for helping us bring him to UNH!"- University of New Hampshire