When Drop Dead Diva creator Josh Berman watched Constance McMillen present Wanda Sykes with the Stephen F. Kolzak award last year at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, the creative wheels started turning.
Berman's initial idea was to dramatize Constance's legal case, but when it came time to cast the judge for lawyer Jane (the show's lead character) to argue the case in front of, his imagination went back to Sykes. As Berman told Entertainment Weekly:
When I wrote the episode, of course, my dream was to cast Wanda, never thinking that she would do it,” Berman says. “We sent her the pages, and she read the script, and she said yes. It came full circle.
He went on to explain how Constance's story - suing her Mississippi high school to be allowed to bring her girlfriend as her date to senior prom - was a perfect fit for the spirit of the show and inspired him personally as a writer:
At the heart of Drop Dead Diva, the show is about identity and being comfortable with who we are, and nowhere is that more poignant than in Constance’s story of just wanting to be able to go to prom, which is something that most of just take for granted when we’re in high school.... As a writer, I couldn’t have come up with some of the plot points in this episode out of thin air. Reading about Constance’s case, and also several other truth life stories about gay men and lesbian women who were denied access to prom that inform this episode, it’s just a head scratcher to me.”
Sykes will appear in fifth episode of the show's upcoming 3rd season, set to premiere on Lifetime on June. The next Steven F. Kolzak award will be presented to NBC's Robert Greenblatt on April 10 at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. You can watch Constance McMillen presenting Sykes with the award during last year's ceremony in the video below.