I was having dinner with a friend who told me Wendy Killian, one of our freshman dorm mates, was in Los Angeles and working for InsideOUT Writers as their Executive Director. When I talked to Wendy, she told me about IOW’s mission and how, although most of the alums were black and brown, there were not many black and brown role models within IOW — especially male. As fate would have it, I knew several male, African American television writers and thought a writing class for IOW alums made perfect sense.
The first meeting proved to be a great marriage with writers from both sides shedding tears by the end of the session. Afterwards I kept coming back to the offices on Vine because of the positive spirit so prevalent amongst the IOW alumni and staff. Later I worked with fellow writer Virgil Williams to co-teach a weekly screenwriting class, but still felt there was more I could do. So when I was approached about being a mentor it seemed like the next logical step.
I was paired with Fernando Zacarias who I found very similar to myself. Quiet, conscientious and hard working, Fernando was interested in becoming a Director of Photography. We quickly bonded over our love of film. I suggested movies for him and vice versa. Over the 18 months or so we’ve been paired up, we’ve seen our share of lunches, movies, panels and museum exhibits. What started as two people assigned to each other has grown into a genuine friendship.
Fernando’s fresh eyes on the entertainment industry have reminded me of the excitement I had when I first got to LA. Nowadays Fernando is hard to keep up with. Between school, internships, booking gigs and attending regular IOW classes he’s a busy young man.
But we still find time to check in. He continues to shine, inspire and move forward with his life. Although I’ve had little to nothing to do with it, I’m proud of the progress and drive Fernando continues to show. We’ve already worked together on a project for my mentor and I’m certain we will work together again as we continue to grow our friendship.
Kevin A. Garnett is a multi-platform content creator whose television writing credits include Chris Rock’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” HBO’s “The Mind of the Married Man,” NBC’s “Las Vegas” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” Along with Branyon Davis, he’s also worked on campaigns for several ad agencies including “The LeBrons” for Nike and Wieden+Kennedy. They also created a series of commercial spoofs entitled “The Most Interesting Black Man in the World” featuring Billy Dee Williams. Kevin is a graduate of Stanford University where he earned Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Sociology, as well as a Master’s in Sociology while playing football.