A Message to Black Creators, Part One – Choking To Death – Michael Davis, From The Edge

Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, entertainment executive and co-founder of Milestone. He writes,

Recently I was taken to task by a young African American writer's…mom. Did I mention the writer was an adult? Her mother objected to my decision not to use her work on a high-profile project. She's an excellent writer, but that means nothing if she couldn't raise her game to the level of those she would be playing with. She could not raise her game.

When beginning my mentor program, I tell young creators of color how much I value them as they are essential to our continued struggle. I hope this becomes embedded in their mindset, and they think about it as if their life depends on it, and it very well could. "I'm not your daddy," (not that they can prove anyway) because I am not their daddy, I don't tell anyone how great they're not even good work is. Instead, I point out the value of their dream to be an artist or a writer and the work it takes to achieve that goal.

My Bad Boy Mentor program has one goal: Generating opportunities for young people of color inside the mainstream entertainment space. Frankly, I'm pretty good at it, some think stating that point is bragging. I am not now, nor have I ever been a braggart. I'm not bragging I'm citing facts. Any review of my resume isn't a boast, it's a truth. Just because you have seen a funny commercial does not mean everyone has. That's the type of thinking that haters feed on. I've mentioned the Michael Davis auditorium many times. No doubt someone will point that out and assign me the 'full of myself' label.  You may have seen it mentioned before; still, it's new to somebody.

I am continually looking for ways to include young people of color in America's mainstream entertainment space. People of color continue to be purposely underrepresented, although we account for the majority of America's coolness in the entertainment world. Black culture is American pop culture worldwide where Black kids go, goes the world. PERIOD.

However, many inner-city African Americans parents, even in the 21st century, see careers in the arts as wishful thinking at best. I have to make a case the dream their kid has to become a creative professional isn't a pipe dream. Do I not mention my track record as a mentor in the entertainment industry is extraordinary? I get an angry response each and every time I write about my accomplishments. People telling me how others give back by mentoring but-don't BRAG about it- is a typical reply. How are kids of color to know who's a mentor if they have no clue who's mentoring? Put another way; If you're choking to death, you want to know the man or woman with their fingers down your throat is a doctor.

Too many of these kids are choking to death.You're talking about someone's child; their parents need to know my program is taken seriously by the industry. I focus on African Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc. because these kids may need resources readily available to most white kids but denied to many kids of color. I'm not trying to give kids something to do so because the TV is broken and they're bored. The TV used as a babysitter is still a practice of many poor and lower-middle-class families. I'm trying to help them realize a dream most assume, or worse, believe would never be. The TVs in the hood work fine. Unfortunately, many parents don't work. I can hear the Far Right now, "They don't work because they are…insert insulting stereotype here." Unemployment in the inner cities is a problem for all races, and reasons for it vary. Within the inner city living Black or Latino is usually the main reason, not Colt 45 or crack. More often than not, what's broken isn't the TV it's the child. I know because, in many ways, I am still broken. I keep all that in mind when advising new creators coming from a place I know all too well.

This, as the saying goes, is business, consequently knowing what goes on in urban homes gives me an advantage when speaking of the reality of the entertainment world. This business is stacked high with obstacles and people whose sole purpose regarding some is to curtail and derail so it's best if we prepare accordingly. In business, I have always STRESSED THREE THINGS:

  1. Get to the point. Clarify EVERYTHING quickly
  2. Professionalism. Make your deadlines. Be on time for meetings
  3. Attitude. Don't have one. When wrong, apologize. Don't make excuses. Don't blame the man

I won't put people in a room with power playas that waste time discussing something that has no value to anyone but them. I don't deal with mid-level people only with the decision-makers. You would think people would get that now since my 'suicide' trended worldwide. But nope, despite reams of evidence, some still put forth the notion I wasn't hacked. No, that I planned that "hacking." Among my other lies, I never gave a key-note speech at The FBI Academy. There is no Michael Davis Auditorium. I never ran Film and TV at Motown I'm not in business with Wayne Brady. "I doubt if he even knows Wayne Brady." That last little gem was the climax to what I'm told was an attempted character assassination at a toy company. My name came up during a meeting and was immediately slandered. My ex-wife has a BFF whose husband thinks I'm a thug and deemed it his responsibility to share just how much of a liability I am during his meeting with the CEO.

I've met this guy once and twice (that I know of) he's spread falsehoods regarding my personal life and career. The first time he reported back to his wife, who told my wife I was on a date with another woman. No, I was on a train going to Comic-Con with the head of my special project's division. That I let go. At the toy company meeting, he focused on how he was sure I'd set up the hack on my Facebook page, posting my 'suicide' notice. I didn't do anything. I didn't have to. The CEO (as we say in the hood), is my boy. He ended the meeting and his company's relationship with he, who messed with the wrong person.

The following is addressed to my ex-wife's BFF husband everyone except him, please skip ahead to the paragraph that begins with -Therein lies the main reason I focus on kids of color.

Thanks, I know I can count on each and every one of you.


I am dismayed at your attempt to…wait a sec let me try that again.


The next time we go dance on the floor in the round. If you doubt me ask your wife to ask my ex who my lawyers are and how I roll. FYI I'm not a thug but I can be if the situation calls for it.

Regardless; you best never use that to describe me again. The word you're looking for is daddy, because I just became yours. If you doubt that ask yourself why you can't get a meeting with Greg any more.

I'll tell you why it's because Daddy says, no.

BUT! Wayne says hi…no he didn't.

Therein lies the main reason I focus on kids of color. It is particularly important to make sure young people of color are aware of the genuine dangers that exist in the entertainment world. Anyone Black or white can be subjected to a character attack but when it's a person of color under assault the rules are not only different but stacked against you.


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