Months ago I was in a frenzy looking for a notary. I had spent the past two weeks finessing my application for the Disney ABC Television Fellowships and the last step -- getting the shit notarized -- was eluding me like a motherfucker. Everyone was either busy or not working. And the clock was ticking -- 4:00 and I needed to hit the post office by 5. Hope lied at a small travel agency in Beverly Hills, right off of Rodeo. I barreled through rush hour traffic and found the place, parking, by 4:40.
Beverly Hills is only three miles away.
A kind Armenian man notarized my application and wished me luck. I ran four blocks to the post office, waited in line, and got my shit out just as they locked the doors.
Today I received the rejection letter.
I figured I didn't have a chance, but when you believe such things there's always a small part that believes the opposite. That's where all the good stories come from: ignoring logic.
"Why didn't you have a chance?"
The Disney ABC TV Writing Fellowship is a diversity fellowship. A large part of the application process involved me writing about my background -- where I came from, who I was, etc. I dodged my whiteness, of course, and instead focused on my juvenile delinquency and love for hip-hop, and how certain experiences (i.e. riding the short bus my Senior year of high school) have shaped my writing.
But my name is Jeff Tetreault, not Jamal Smith.
"But diversity can mean your writing..."
Not in TV. No. In TV, diversity means you better be black or Hispanic or Middle Eastern. Diversity in TV is code for not white. If you're a crippled Native American with a vagina, no matter how shitty your writing is, you have an exponentially better shot at getting your foot (or wheel) in the door than a white male. This is because studios receive tax breaks and the like if they meet racial quotas. Fucked up, right?
I'm not against diversity. It's just that it's usually forced and not genuine in the slightest. It's a step forward and a step back at the same time -- MLK's dream in the hands of the greedy. One black guy in a commercial on white TV. One white guy in a commercial on black TV.
Only Telemundo has it right.