Michael Latt, ’14, B.A. Public Relations/Advertising and Media, Culture and Society – Dodge College
Born into an entertainment industry family, Chapman alumnus Michael Latt was firmly positioned for a solid career in movie marketing, but his work as a Dodge College senior for the award winning film “Fruitvale Station,” directed by Ryan Coogler, changed his intentions. The film serves to illustrate “the power of an art form to find humanity in a headline” (AFI, 2014) and through it, Latt realized the powerful opportunities that storytelling has to help others and make a difference in communities. For the past six years, Michael has focused his work on amplifying visionary and trailblazing voices in order to spark change and recently founded his own non-profit company, Lead With Love, where he serves as CEO. His organization is dedicated to empowering and amplifying women and artists of color and their stories, and serves to collaborate with leading organizers, brands and artists across the nation to build a future of equality, justice and equity for thriving. “The moment I realized that I could use my skill set for social good,” Latt shared, “is when I decided to dedicate the rest of my career to helping others, empowering storytellers of color and fighting injustice wherever it stands.” Among Michael’s many accomplishments and achievements, his passions are reflected in the projects and social justice groups that he has dedicated himself to serve and support, including If Beale Street Could Talk, Question Bridge: Black Males, We Rise Festival, #RESIST: Speaking Truth to Power and Just Mercy. But he is most proud of the work he’s done that has empowered and inspired audiences around the country and sparked meaningful change in communities including #JusticeForFlint, The Hope & Redemption Tour and MLK Now.
Q&A with Michael Latt
We asked this year’s winners about their experiences at Chapman and what advice they have for current students.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
The most influential person for me during my time at Chapman University was Janell Shearer. As a teacher and advisor, I learned so much from Janell that has helped me in my career and she was always there for me when I needed guidance.
If you could go back and experience one moment from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently?
I really enjoyed my time at Chapman so I don t think there is anything I would’ve done differently during my time there. I really loved the late night National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) brainstorming sessions with my classmates and a whole lot of pizza.
What were the most challenging social issues in our country/world that you faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same? Give an example.
When I was studying at Chapman, I began working on Ryan Coogler’s first film “Fruitvale Station,” which opened my eyes up to how prevalent and insidious white supremacy is in our country. The next year during the Ferguson Uprising, Ryan brought a small group of artists and activists together to form the collective Blackout for Human Rights that is dedicated to fighting state-sanctioned violence and empowering communities of color through art. Leading the marketing for Blackout as Marketing Director allowed me to see that I could use what I learned in school for the movement. Since then, I’ve dedicated my career to helping create a world deeply rooted in abundance, love, justice and compassion where we can all thrive and feel like we belong. The focus of my work has expanded to include issues like criminal justice reform, gender equality, electoral politics, immigration and more.
What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation (about life, careers, family, best place for tacos, etc.) that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?
I wish I would’ve known that I had much more space to be patient with myself and make mistakes and that the failures and struggles in life are simply opportunities to grow and learn. I would advise students and recent graduates to have faith in yourself, trust the process and practice self-compassion.
How did Chapman prepare you for your career? How did your experience prepare you for the real world?
My experience at Chapman really prepared me for the real world. Studying PR and Advertising in Chapman University’s Dodge College was the perfect place for me to prepare for my career in film marketing. Working on films and studying curriculum that applied to my work at the same time proved especially helpful for me early in my career and created the learning environment for me to excel in. While my work has expanded past just marketing films now, my foundational skills were refined and mastered at Chapman.