“I wanted to say, you can fight for your life, you can fight for your neighbor’s rights… and you can survive and thrive,” an impassioned Dustin Lance Black told a packed crowd at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event at the DGA theater last month. Black was talking about ABC’s docu-drama When We Rise, which chronicles the personal and political setbacks and triumphs in the fight for LGBT civil rights.

The eight-episode event series centers on real-life activists like Roma Guy and Cleve Jones, and features a stellar ensemble that includes Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis O’Hare, David Hyde Pierce, Michael K Williams and T.R. Knight.

“I wanted to make sure these were people from other social justice movements,” Black emphasized during the discussion led by TVLine’s Michael Ausiello, discussing how he decided what stories to tell. “The real power of any movement is how we work together with other social justice movements.”

Check out the interview above.