Cut to Black: Did You Know? Louise Meriwether, Story Analyst

For each day in the month of February, the African American Steering Committee will be highlighting Local 700’s African American members, both past and present, and their accomplishments. We look forward to showing the contributions and influences African Americans have had on the industry.

Louise Meriwether

Hollywood’s First Black Story Analyst

Did you know that Louise Meriwether was the first Black Story Analyst? Story Analysts are hired by studios to read scripts and provide feedback, and they are one of the classifications of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.

Louise Meriweather was an American novelist, essayist, and biographer. She began writing children’s biographies of African-American historical figures, like Robert Smalls, Daniel Hale Williams and Rosa Parks. Her most well-known piece was “Daddy was a Number Runner,” a semi-autobiographical novel about her own childhood in Harlem, NY. Her work rivaled the writing of Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, but she never achieved their fame.

In 1965, she was hired by Universal Studios as a Story Analyst, a Hollywood first. She would also later publish the novels “Francie’s Harlem” (1988), “Fragments of the Ark” (1994), and “Shadow Dancing” (2000), and teach creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She was an activist, co-founding the anti-Apartheid group Black Concern (originally the Committee of Concerned Blacks), the Harlem Writers Guild, and the Black Anti-Defamation Association that was formed to prevent Twentieth Century Fox’s producer David L. Wolper from making a film of William Styron’s controversial 1967 novel “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” which misinterpreted African-American history.

James Baldwin was a fan of Meriwether. He wrote in the foreword for her novel, Daddy was a Number Runner, that she “has told everyone who can read what it means to be a Black man or woman in this country.”

The MPEG African-American Steering Committee is honored to close out this year’s Cut to Black series by celebrating Louise Meriwether.