When COVID-19 hit, the entertainment industry went into an unprecedented lockdown, the greatest international health challenge since the H2N2 pandemic of 1957-1958. Suddenly, everybody was available but nobody could be anywhere. Writer and journalist Marc Bernardin (Critical Role, Alphas, Castle Rock, Star Trek: Picard) was motivated to do something to help people in need. He got an idea — to have everyone's favorite genre actors perform the greatest speeches from genre films and TV. After a brief technical conversation with his colleague Hannibal Tabu, it was determined that there was room to bring Bernardin's vision of "Plague Nerdalogues" to life and this time proceeds are going to Black Lives Matter.
"I've been sitting here, day after day, both watching the world slip and watching people do their best to stop it from slipping," Bernardin told Variety. "I've done a lot of the former and thought it was high time I tried doing the latter."
For his first wave, he recruited a stellar host of talents: Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes, Battlestar Galactica stunner Tricia Helfer, multi-hyphenate Phil LaMarr (MAD TV, Justice League Unlimited, Samurai Jack, Supergirl) and many more. Bernardin chose the charity No Kid Hungry and over the course of a few weeks, raised $16,000 to fight childhood hunger. While this happened, the world exploded with frustration over senseless acts of state-sanctioned violence such as the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and extrajudicial murders like the tragedy of Ahmaud Arbery. For perhaps the first time in American history, protests emerged in all fifty states against systemic and all-too-often lethal discrimination against people of African descent. As more actors and talents came to Bernardin wanting to help, he knew he had to do something.
"It became clear to me, as both an African American and a human being, that if we could raise money for a cause that's affected so many since they were born, then we should," said Bernardin in a statement. "We've all wanted to do something. We're all moved to action. And when I mentioned to the actors who'd already contributed their monologues, not a one raised an objection. We all stand together. Nerds and strong. And even though the 'plague' in the title initially referred to COVID-19, to apply it to systemic racism — America's first plague — felt apt."
With the help of Tabu, who has worked as an activist with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, and television producers Lamont Magee and Deric Hughes, Bernardin launched "The Plague Nerdalogues: The Second Wave" with even more amazing names attached: Tracie Thoms, Kevin Smith, Yvette Nicole Brown, Dani Fernandez, Grant Gustin, Malcolm Barrett, Jorge Garcia and more. All proceeds from the second wave go directly to Black Lives Matter. Just a week later, Bernardin included another update, this time led off with a huge name …
On June 13th, Bernardin got a direct message from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda saying, "Lemme call dibs on Adama! I'll have it for you Monday!" Miranda uploaded the video Sunday night and Tabu had it edited by Monday afternoon, with Runaways star Ryan Sands, producer Christine Boylan and Terminator: Salvation star Moon Bloodgood along for the ride. Best of all, everyone who already donated is able to access even the newer Nerdalogues, meaning a whole lot of value for the cost.
Bernardin has threatened more voices will join this chorus, so if you'd like to get access, The Plague Nerdalogues site is up and running and waiting for you. As of press time, more than $39,000 have been raised for Black Lives Matter.
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.