HUMANITAS Trustees Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil, & Carter Covington Share Personal Stories

Three HUMANITAS Trustees shared personal essays, interviews, and videos this week. Read excerpts from stories by/featuring Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil, and Carter Covington below. For full articles, please find the corresponding links at the bottom of this page.

Greg Berlanti

During a weekend when the presidential campaign was caught up in violence and anger, showbiz luminaries came together to celebrate love and gratitude at the Family Equality Council’s Impact Awards on Saturday.

The Family Equality Council advocates for LGBTQ parents and families, and the Impact Awards honor those who have made a significant contribution to that community. The org says the banquet at the Beverly Hilton, which is both a presentation and a fundraiser, “offers a moment to call attention to the organization’s ongoing work to achieve full legal and lived equality for these nine million Americans.”

Honorees included writer-producer Greg Berlanti, who is overseeing comic-book TV adaptations “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Supergirl,” and who recently became a parent through surrogacy; and singer-songwriter Linda Perry and actress-producer Sara Gilbert, who are raising a family of their own.

Gay rights, marriage equality and adoption rights have been a wedge issue over several election cycles, but seem to have mostly faded from the presidential primary debates.

“I think it’s a wonderful example for people, in terms of just the progress that was made as quickly as it was,” Berlanti told Variety before the ceremony, when asked about the relative quiet on the subject of LGBTQ rights. “But I also feel like it’s easy to drop the ball then. There’s still a lot of ways to go for all sorts of different groups and people. So I think it’s inspirational, the progress, but I think there’s also more work to be done.”

At the podium, all three honorees were emotional as they accepted their awards, especially Berlanti, who recalled that when he came out to his parents at 23, his father told him: “You’ll never have a child.”

Berlanti recounted, “I answered back, ‘If you mean I won’t have a wife to have a child with, you’re right. But if you mean I won’t raise a child, and love that child as much as you love me, then you’re wrong, Dad.'” He added later that “You’ll never get to see the moment I watched my mother and father stare into my son’s eyes for the first time. ‘He looks like me, doesn’t he?’ my Dad said assuredly. Or how much joy I felt when I received this text from my father the next day: ‘Caleb is the luckiest boy in the world to have you as a Dad.'”

Read more about Greg Berlanti at Variety:

Mara Brock Akil (find video link below)

To Mara Brock Akil, the resiliency and transformative power of black women's hair is partly what makes it so magical.

Akil, the celebrated producer and screenwriter behind popular shows like "Being Mary Jane" and "Girlfriends", is featured in the second episode of "The Hair Tales," an online show created by cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis that highlights black women and their hair stories.

In the episode, which debuts Tuesday, Akil opened up about her own personal hair journey, which she said came with one not-so-pleasant experience growing up as a biracial child.

She told the story of how she was physically and verbally picked on by kids who made fun of her big hair as a young girl. "I remember being in the bathroom and attacked by these girls," Akil recounted. "[They] were like 'there she go, thinking she cute with her hair,'" she added.

Akil moved passed the taunts and instead used the moment as an important lesson on self-empowerment. "I accepted being different, I wanted to standout," Akil said. And she did, by continuing to rock her curls for years to come. "I come from a family of beautiful women, strong women, and strong defined by being themselves."

Read more about Mara Brock Akil and watch the video at The Huffington Post:

Carter Covington

Growing up a closeted gay kid with minimal athletic ability in the Reagan-era South, television was my salvation. TV Guide was my Bible. Ricky Schroder and David Hasselhoff were my Messiahs. Still, I never dared to dream that one day I might have my own TV show. The only person from my hometown that had ever made it in Hollywood was John Tesh, and I was no John Tesh.

My parents both loved their work, and they encouraged me to find that for myself. I taught sixth grade in Mexico, chasing adventure. I worked as an ad exec in New York then went to business school at UCLA, chasing money. For much of my 20s I lacked a purpose, and it was painful. I medicated with television.

With nothing better to do, I was about to open a spa with my hairdresser when Sept. 11 happened. That tragedy pushed me to take stock of my life. I knew I had come to Hollywood for a reason, I just wasn’t sure why — until I met Michael Green (Everwood, Smallville) at a friend’s dinner party. He was the first real live television writer I’d ever come across and as he described what his job entailed, I got chills. Could my lifelong obsession with television actually translate into a career? Nervous, I called Michael a few days later and asked if I was insane to even ponder giving this a shot. After all, I was an ancient twenty-nine-year-old who knew no one in the industry. I’d never been to film school, or taken any creative writing class whatsoever. To Michael’s credit, he didn’t discourage me. He stressed that television writers come from many different backgrounds. In fact, he said he could see me doing well in a room. Provided I had talent.

Read more of Carter Covington's personal essay at The Hollywood Reporter: