Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Filmmakers and Television Producers: 3 Action Items to Enhance Storytelling Through Diversity

Diversity in Hollywood, or the lack thereof, continues to rock conversations around awards season and ignite questions about opportunities for minority groups in the industry. As a graduate student in Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications program, I have come across a couple of interesting articles that critique this current situation.

Michael Epstein at Flavorwire wrote an article on Ryan Murphy's new foundation, Half. In response to many of the diversity conversations swirling around the Oscars, the producer who is creator of FX’s hit series American Horror Story and American Crime Story, has launched a new foundation aimed at creating opportunities for female, gay, and non-white filmmakers in the industry. The foundation, Half, was born out of Murphy’s belief that those members of the Film/TV industry in power have the opportunity, and responsibility, to create avenues for underrepresented voices to be heard. The foundation will offer a mentorship program for female and other minority students as well as a filmmaker database of underrepresented filmmakers to be shared with other producers in the industry.

The lack of representation from minority groups and the LGBT community in all Best Acting categories sparked conversations about inclusivity in Hollywood.
Source: Los Angeles Times, 2016

Over at TV GuideLiz Raftery wrote about President Obama's opinion on the lack of representation of minority and LGBT groups in this year’s Oscar nominations. In his comments, the President echoed a sentiment that many supporters of diversity hold, “When everybody’s story is told, then that makes for better art.” President Obama also went on to add, “The Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue of, ‘Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot”.

Based on the insights offered in these two articles and my experiences as a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program, here are three actions you can take to avoid the same pitfalls as The Academy:

1)    Outsource Your Content Since you cannot write, direct, or produce a story from all people’s point of view, it is important to hire creators from different backgrounds in order to bring a wealth of new stories, perspectives, and experiences to both the silver screen and the small screen.

2)    Question Yourself - When creating content, be sure to step back and examine whether or not you are telling a new story with new characters, or the same story with the same characters.

3)    Invest In TalentMentor programs, grants, and internships are a great way to give opportunities to underrepresented voices that may not have access to jobs in the Film and TV industry otherwise.

Through these three actions, we can all look forward to new and exciting films and TV shows that better reflect the world we live in today.

About the Author:
Chelsea Ferguson has a B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University where she is also currently pursuing a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications. Her interests are in Film and Television marketing.

You can follower her on Twitter @yoitscferg

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