“Come on, man, don’t rob the ice cream truck!”
To be born in Compton is to witness everything. Sometimes I’d come home and our house would be wrapped in police tape. The hamburger stand across the street was getting robbed weekly. The ice cream truck would get robbed, then wouldn’t come back. Come on, man, don’t rob the ice cream truck! I was walking down my block when I was eight or nine, and these guys drove by, pulled out assault rifles, and just mowed down a crowd right in front of me. I remember that like it happened five minutes ago.
Why these awards matter so much to me is that people where I come from don’t win Emmys. They don’t sit in a room writing political satire for Jon Stewart, and they don’t stand on that stage. To have seen the things I’ve seen, to be that close to violence and murder, and then to hold a statue on that stage—with Viola Davis looking up at me—it’s fucking crazy. It’s a miracle.
Having these in my living room is a constant reminder to keep doing the work to bring more black and brown people, and more women, onto that stage. It was always about something bigger than winning. It was about giving a little hope to some kid from the inner city who wants to be a writer or director, about showing folks that there are a lot of people like me out there—that we’re not one-offs, not anomalies.