PASADENA, California — Dustin Lance Black says he’s fully aware of the war being waged by members of the so-called alt-right on his upcoming ABC television miniseries “When We Rise,” and how it could affect its success.
“Loud and clear, I want to say because this show is under attack by the alt-right online. We have been targeted. We’ll get absolutely zero ratings on every internet platform,” Black said during the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday. “But this show is not a war. We are not against anyone. Every single person in this world is a minority in one way or another. It just depends on how you slice the pie. And this show tells us how we are related.”
The alt-right community is a fringe conservative movement that has associations with racism, bigotry, and white nationalism. A spotlight has been on the movement recently, since President-elect Donald Trump’s recently appointed chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has been accused of promoting bigoted parts of the movement. But Black hopes that people of all backgrounds and beliefs tune in to the show and make up their own mind.
“There’s an idea about the show out there in some small groups. Let’s be real,” Black said. “I think a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump will love this show. I don’t see this show as the type of show that’s only trying to speak with half the country. That’s not what this is all about. I didn’t write this show for half the country. I think if Donald Trump actually watches the show, he might like the show.”
“When We Rise,” which Black wrote and directed, chronicles the American gay rights movement. Black said he began developing the project with ABC (against his business manager’s advice) four years ago. And while he hoped the political climate would be different when it aired, he said that he wasn’t blindsided by the current conservative re-emergence.
“I would give anything in the world for it to be less topical,” Black said of the show’s timing. “I never could have imagined it would land in this moment. I’m not entirely surprised. We know that history is not a straight line. We know that history is a pendulum. I knew this kind of moment might happen. I’n grateful for ABC’s courage. I’m grateful for everyone up on the stage and all the artists that helped make this, because I do think it’s a necessary conversation to have right now.”
“When We Rise” premieres Monday, February 27 at 9 p.m. on ABC.