One year ago today I officially started our new production company Offsides Productions with my creative brother and semi-professional ping-pong champion Yvan Iturriaga.
The first â€œbusiness decisionâ€ I made that long ago week in January was to order business cards for us. Ha! 2020 was about to be like, “Business cards??! You really think you’re about to meet people in person?? Nah, my dude, this year you’re going to need face masks and hand sanitizer and a way stronger internet connection for all those therapy sessions you’re about to have over Zoom.”
I fucking hate Zoom.
And have never spent much time on an app I hate so much in my life.
One year and a raging pandemic later, I’m just counting my blessings to still be here. Still writing, still fighting, still somehow making art and trouble.
Starting a new organization amidst the chaos of 2020 (and now 2021) while having two little kids at home all day has been, well, an interesting challenge. But weâ€™re doing it.
In our first year of Offsides we made some fun, real work that reached over 20 million viewers and supported brilliant, badass campaigns for justice. Here’s our first production that we created with Oakland’s own Hamilton hero Daveed Diggs and the Movement for Black Lives at the height of the Black Lives Matter uprising last summer. Remixing the legendary Frederick Douglass speech questioning Independence Day, Daveed and an all-star team of writers brought the fire with â€œWhat to My People is the Fourth of July?â€
Our next video dealt with that other troubling American epidemic: those infamous perpetrators of racial profiling best known as Karens. Written by Adam Mansbach and co-directed by Mansbach and A’Darius Bell, the idea behind this project is that white people have proven that they (aka we) canâ€™t be trusted to use 911 responsibly â€“ and itâ€™s costing black people their safety, and sometimes their lives. So weâ€™re introducing a new emergency number, just for white people. Itâ€™s called 912.
Featuring an all-star comedic lineup including Sarah Cooper, Lewis Black, Sarah Silverman, W. Kamau Bell, and Craig Robinson, we partnered with with the amazing racial justice organization Color of Change on the launch and impact campaign.
For our last major production of 2020, we wanted people to get down. To do it safely and wear protection. And yes…weâ€™re talking about voting.
In the run up to the presidential election (bye bye Fascist Cheetoh!), Diane Guerrero encouraged young people to get down and practice safe, consensual, and pleasurable voting. Featuring voiceover from Favianna Rodriguez and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, this one was written by myself, Reyna Amaya, Zahra Noorbaksh, and Yvan Iturriaga, who also directed. Because hey, â€œSafe Voting Feels So Good!â€
Beyond the actual videos, I just get to to work with the best fucking people. My friends and comedic geniuses Reyna Amaya and Zahra Noorbakhsh. My bearded brother and impact producer Calvin Williams. The dopest production squad Mecky Creus, Aleixo GonÃ§alves, Meko Winbush, Francisco NuÃ±ez, Ayanna Ziegler and many more in the Bay and LA. Our all-star advisory board and collaborators Rosario Dawson, Boots Riley, Adam Mansbach, and Favianna Rodriguez.
Weâ€™re cooking up some fun stuff here at Offsides for 2021. It’s a new year. A new president. Hopefully a new path out of this pandemic. So it’s time for a new story for this crazy ass country. (Less QAnon, more universal health care would be a nice start.)
It’s a strange, surreal world out there. I’m just glad to still be creating and agitating and bringing bad jokes to the people in the name of justice.
Let’s get to work.