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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Changemakers, Season 2

Entered in Video Series


Changemakers objective is to spotlight Black LGBTQ people with special attention to trans and nonbinary business owners. The docuseries provides a nuanced, intimate look at their lives, showing the motivation and makings of community leaders.

Another objective of the series is to showcase the power of serving your own community. Changemakers demonstrates how the effectiveness and impact of a business is greater when it is informed by lived experience, and a personal connection to a cause or group.

Strategy and Execution

The first step was to target markets being heavily discussed in the news, with specific attention to industries and areas in conversation due to anti-LGBTQ legislation. Anti-trans sports bans, limited representation in gaming for Black LGBTQ people, restricted access to healthcare for Black queer people, and homelessness came up frequently in our research, which led us to our four target subject matters.

A nationwide search was conducted where over 50 potential candidates were presented to our presenting partner, Ally. The pool was narrowed down with special attention to GLAAD and Ally’s goals for geographic areas and areas of expertise. After preliminary interviews, and targeted correspondence, we found our four Changemakers: Layshia Clarendon, Braxton Fleming, Dani LaLonders, Mariah Moore. All four Changemakers were “firsts” in their fields – pioneers who were paving the way for their community through their activism. We wanted to expand upon the typical pioneer narrative and more importantly show the sacrifices and tolls of making real, impactful change.

A core production crew was put together to travel to the home cities of the four Changemakers to begin the filming process. Representation of Black and queer people both on and behind-camera were of utmost importance to GLAAD, to ensure a conducive safe environment for production.

The greatest challenge for the series was time. Changemakers had a very ambitious shot list, relying heavily on B-roll to showcase the worlds surrounding the Changemakers. GLAAD wanted to prioritize capturing the core of the human being, showing the people and places and environments important to our interviewees, not just a talking head. In essence, two films were happening: the sit-down interview, and then the environmental capture. In addition, production occurred over the course of only two days, with travel happening in-between.

Despite the limited time, a unique and important aspect of the entire process was GLAAD’s commitment to fostering a sense of intimacy and trust with each Changemaker. A 90-min pre-interview was held to determine talking points, and build an outline for the heart of the story. Each Changemaker also had an opportunity to review the outline, ensuring that their story was being represented accurately.

Post-production included a “paper edit,” referencing the original outline to shape the beats of the final product. After working closely with our editor, and multiple rounds of feedback with our presenting partner Ally the episodes were finalized and released.

Lastly, GLAAD’s Communications team put together a press strategy, targeting local and specialized news outlets for each Changemaker, ensuring they were receiving attention from their own community and area of expertise. GLAAD also sought an exclusive “home” for the series, meaning an outlet that would break the series with an exclusive announcement and trailer, and then host all 4 videos with ongoing coverage each week.


Changemakers amassed over 60,000 views since its release, with over a dozen unique online or broadcast pieces on the series.

As intended, Changemakers found an exclusive home in trade publication AdAge, and each Changemaker received one or more individualized article on their episode alone, from a publication within their field of expertise. Mariah Moore spoke with the Advocate Channel in an ongoing live interview about her lifesaving work in New Orleans, as well as coverage from ABC-affiliated and New Orleans based news site WGNO. Braxton was honored as a “Hometown Hero” in Asbury Park Press, and Dani spoke with Fox Chicago, The Mary Sue, and Gayming Mag on the development of her app ValiDate. Lastly, Layshia was recognized in Autostraddle, OutSports, and Katie Couric Media.


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