winner directs advertising projects with powerful social themes for Tylenol and

LOS ANGELES — Dustin Lance Black soared to international fame in 2009 when he won an
Academy Award for his screenplay for the film Milk and inspired millions with his stirring acceptance speech
invoking LGBT rights. He went on to become a leading spokesperson for the LGBT
community through his play 8, about
the fight against California’s anti-same-sex marriage proposition, and as one
of the founding board members of the American
Foundation for Equal Rights, whose efforts
led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the discriminatory
proposition. That ruling is viewed as an important precursor to last month’s
U.S. Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
marriage equality now the law of the land, Black is refocusing his energies on
his filmmaking career, without, however, lessening his commitment to equality
and activism. Currently working on a mini-series for ABC about the early gay
rights movement, he also finds himself suddenly in high demand as a commercial
director through Los Angeles-based Bully Pictures. Black recently directed
projects for Tylenol through JWT New York and Coca-Cola through Pereira &
O’Dell that evoke powerful stories about acceptance, tolerance and equal
Dustin Lance Black

For Tylenol,
Black directed a commercial featuring a variety of non-traditional couples, one
a male couple with a newborn child. “Family isn’t defined by who you love,” concludes
the voice-over, “but how.”

“I respond to stories that are impactful,
that can help people out,” says Black. “With Tylenol, I thought it furthered the
conversation. It’s not just about LGBT families, it’s about a whole slew of
families who might be treated differently because they don’t fit a certain mode.
To have LGBT families included with mixed-race families and adoptive families
also built on love…it’s inclusive and accepting in a way that could be very
helpful to a lot of parents and kids out there. I thought, that’s worth making
time for.”
More ambitious is Black’s work for
Coca-Cola, which includes a series of three short films for Latin American
markets. Conceived by Pereira & O’Dell, the films center on teenagers
facing “crossroads moments” where friendship triumphs over cruelty. The first
two films deal with spiteful rumors, broken romances and misunderstandings that
are often deeply hurtful to young people. The third film, The Text, centers on the
friendship between two Brazilian boys and what happens when one learns that the
other is gay.
“I direct these spots because I feel that
they can have an impact,” says Black. “Yes, they are selling a product, but you
can sell a product while influencing society in positive ways. These are ads
that are doing that.”
Black sees little difference between his
work as a filmmaker and as an activist. “To me, it’s one and the same,” he
explains. “Whether you are filing a Supreme Court case or making a film, it’s
all about storytelling. If you want to win in court, you need to tell your
story well and in an emotionally compelling manner. When you make a film, you
do the same thing.”
Black’s work for Tylenol and Coke are
garnering wide media attention and stirring debate. Bully Pictures executive
producer Jason Forest is not surprised. He says that Black delivers something
often lacking in advertising: truthfulness. “He’s making his mark in the
commercial world by telling stories that touch upon the LGBT community culture with
authenticity,” Forest says. “He’s dispelling the clichés and the stereotypes
and replacing them with honesty. He is just a fantastic storyteller, and I have
had the wonderful pleasure all these years as a friend and commercial
collaborator to watch him develop into a brilliant director.”
“I’m turning
a mirror on the societies where these ads appear to show them what is already
there but isn’t often discussed or embraced in an open manner,” says Black. “I’m
reflecting back the best of what we are.”
About Bully Pictures:
is a full-service commercial broadcast, web viral, branded content
production company located in Santa Monica, California.  The company’s roster includes Javier
Aguilera, Dustin Lance Black, Fredrik Callinggard, Peter Care, Anne
Fletcher, Gaute Hesthagen, Dave Klaiber, Jonathan Nyquist, Justin Simien, Johan
Stahl, Taylor Steele, Morten Tyldum and Tripp & Tyler. For more
information, write
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