Hollywood’s Black Screenwriter That’s Advocating for Mental Health and Diversity
What’s your name and where are you from?
Darin Keith Martin. Born in Takoma Park, Maryland, lives in Los Angeles. I’m a Creative Producer for film and TV. Which means I’m sort of a jack of all trades. I mainly write and produce but also enjoy being an actor and director.
Tell us more about you:
A big focal point of my writing is mental health and diversity with calls to action attached to my projects. We are our best selves when we are well. Many of us experience various types of mental health encounters and challenges that we never speak about. And because we never speak about it, we bottle it up until it becomes uncontrollable, consumes us, forces us to breakdown, or in dire circumstances, give up. No one should ever feel so alone or defeated that they have to give up. I was once that teenager that had a smile on the outside, close family and friends, but had serious thoughts of giving up on life.
It’s a dark place when you feel like you have nothing to live for and no one to talk to about it. Maybe it’s because the topic of mental health has a negative association attached to it when it shouldn’t. Whenever you hear the term “mental health”, it’s automatically assumed that something is wrong with a person but it’s quite the opposite. I just published a short film about a young man dealing with anxiety as he prepares for a Zoom interview. It was a drama that I took a big risk on by switching to a comedy.
The balance of drama and humor actually made the message more relatable for viewers as they laughed and opened up about similar emotions and experiences, especially during quarantine. Since its release, I have been receiving messages and phone calls from individuals opening up to me about their personal anxiety and mental health challenges after watching the film. Some I’ve known for years but never made a mention of their mental state and others complete strangers; but I listen because sometimes that’s all a person needs is just someone to listen. I know many actors and producers in Hollywood hurting less because they now have someone they can open up to and that understands them. Such a small project with a huge ripple effect that I never expected but am grateful for.
Mental health discussions should be about everything that is normal about a person. We all experience worry, doubt, anxiety, grief, loneliness, and stress just to name a few. What we don’t all experience is the relief of being able to open up to others about those experiences. It’s difficult to fix something that we’re in constant denial about and hiding from others. That’s the starting point. Being able to acknowledge that something is making you feel uncomfortable and then diagnosing it.
That’s how we learn to manage our mental health and transform it into mental wellness. It’s a topic that’s very important to me and I integrate it into my writing because I want my viewers to see the world through the eyes of that person that has hit rock bottom, aired their entire life on social media, or is a general outcast. What did their life look like building up to that breaking point? Who? What? When? Why? How? These are all questions I want to know the answers to and I want my audience to discover together with me because truth is, we are all one breaking point from becoming that person and don’t know it. And in the end, we all walk away having learned something and our heart postures hopefully have shifted. When you’re as passionate about people and this industry as I am, sometimes it’s difficult to say no to roles but it’s also important to have sound judgement to allow opportunities for others. There is so much amazing talent out there that the world hasn’t seen yet and I’m working hard to create opportunities for them to share their amazing voices and talents, regardless of their backgrounds, education, and experience. I want to work with people that have broken noses from so many doors being slammed in their face in this industry because they understand persistence. I hope within the next 5 years I will have paved the way for new character and story perspectives to be told through TV and cinema and to help create new best practices in regards to mental wellness and resources for my industry family. And if anyone ever feels like quitting, I hope they are encouraged by my films and see that they are not alone and that there are others in this world that experience the same rollercoaster of emotions that they also go through. And although we may not know all the answers, we can endure this journey called life together and not alone.