Image - Niki Solis and Silas Howard
San Francisco


Niki Solis and Silas Howard on The Michelle Meow Show 4/5/18

Please note new program time!

Join us as Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio show to The Commonwealth Club one day each week, exploring important issues of interest to the LGBTQ community.

This week's in-studio guests: Niki Solis, candidate for judge; and Silas Howard, director of A Kid Like Jake

About Niki Solis: The youngest of seven children, Solis was brought from Belize to the United States as an infant. Her family was undocumented until she was teenager, with her father working three jobs to put food on the table and get the children through school. “I know what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. To give everything you can to make sure your kids get a better life,” said Solis. A member of the La Raza Lawyers Association, Solis has taken these experiences with her to the courts and worked to prevent undocumented families from being separated. 

Solis came out when she was 19 and moved to San Francisco on her own. “I’d never been to the city before, but I knew it was a place that was safe for LGBT people like me.” Solis is the mother of two boys and, when the gay marriage ban was lifted in 2008, Solis and her partner waited in line all day to be married at City Hall.

As a black Latina woman, Solis has been deeply affected by how the criminal justice system treats black families and particularly black youth. “In my neighborhood growing up, I regularly saw good kids have small brushes with the police that ruined their lives and made them permanently part of the prison system.” After a member of her family who struggled with addiction was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Solis decided to take action and become an attorney so she could defend the constitutional rights of her community. She received a scholarship to UC Hastings College of the Law, and has worked for the San Francisco Public Defenders Office for 22 years. In 2010 she was appointed to the board of ACLU of Northern California. Solis is currently serving on the Criminal Law Advisory Commission of the State Bar and was appointed by Governor Brown.

About Silas Howard: Silas Howard is an award-winning director and writer, with a longtime focus in telling honest, boundary-shattering narratives filled with groundbreaking characters, as evident in his recent work directing episodes of Amazon’s Emmy award-winning "Transparent," Freefrom’s "The Fosters," MTV’s "Faking It" and NBC’s "This Is Us."

Howard began his career crafting stories that challenged society’s conventional boundaries, and was right away met with praise. His first feature film, By Hook or By Crook was a Sundance Film Festival premiere and five-time Best Feature winner.

After this success, Howard diversified into directing documentaries, music videos, web series, and most recently, television – never straying from his strength in showcasing revolutionary stories and voices. His documentary, What I Love About Dying, premiered at Sundance and played festivals world-wide. His second feature, Sunset Stories, premiered at SXSW and was awarded best ensemble cast by the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, and best director at CAAM Festival.

His music video, "Golden Age of Hustlers," starring Tony-nominated performer, Justin Vivian Bond, screened during the 2014 Whitney Biennial. His documentary, Sticks & Stones, based on the legendary San Francisco transgender chanteuse Bambi Lake, was a recipient of the Horizon Completion grant and is currently playing film festivals internationally.

In 2015 San Francisco Film Society, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, awarded Howard their 2015 Filmmaking Grant, to produce his newest feature film, The Lusty, about the world’s first exotic dancers’ union. Most recently Silas was attached to the feature film A Kid Like Jake starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons and Octavia Spencer starting production June 2017.

Silas Howard received his MFA at UCLA in directing and is a Film Independent Directors Lab Fellow, Nantucket Screenwriting Colony Fellow, the 2014-15 Arthur Levitt Fellow at Williams College and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.

See upcoming Michelle Meow Shows at The Commonwealth Club here.

April 5, 2018

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Max Thelen Boardroom
San Francisco, 94105
United States

Michelle Meow
Host, "The Michelle Meow Show" TV and Radio; Twitter @msmichellemeow
John Zipperer
Host, Week to Week Political Roundtable, The Commonwealth Club

11:30 a.m. check-in
noon program