In commemoration of Black History month, the Feb. 17 kickoff event spotlights Black writers.
Studies show that as people consume content, their perceptions of the real world come to reflect the most commonly seen onscreen messages. As a result, biased or inaccurate tropes and stereotypes on television and in movies can lead directly to real-life misunderstanding, fear, and mistreatment.
Writers need to understand the immense power they wield with their narratives. The stories, characters, and images they depict are more than entertainment. They inform, shape, and influence audiences' actions and worldviews—how we feel about one another and ourselves. In order to wield this power more responsibly, writers need to recognize that representation matters and authentic storytelling is crucial, and need to be more mindful and deliberate about authentically reflecting people on television, in movies, and across emerging platforms.
With this inclusive goal in mind, the WGAW’s Writers Education Committee (WEC), in partnership with Storyline Partners and Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE), a consortium of working TV writers committed to increasing inclusion and equity and improving working conditions for all TV writers, launches this six-part panel series to unpack the cultural narratives addressed through TTIE’s #WriteInclusion initiative.
“We’re in an exciting time where the sky is the limit in terms of expanding narratives and richer characterizations” said WGAW member and TTIE co-chair Angela Harvey. “These conversations will help writers get past old ways of thinking and spark new life into all of our storytelling.”
The inaugural event on Wednesday, Feb. 17, “Write Inclusion: African Americans,” is also co-presented by the WGAW Committee of Black Writers (CBW). Panelists will include WGAW Board member Deric A. Hughes (Arrow), Joy Kecken (Motherland: Fort Salem), LaToya Morgan (The Walking Dead), Kirk Moore (Runaways), Bianca Sams (Don’t Look Deeper), and Kristen Marston (Culture & Entertainment Advocacy Director, Color of Change), moderated by Angela Harvey (Station 19). RSVP to join.
Over the next six months, upcoming #WriteInclusion panel events will explore representations of criminal justice, people with disabilities, Latinx people, migrants, and Muslims (and possibly other groups). These talks will delve into authentic and nuanced storytelling in practice, not just in theory¬—examining culture creation and how we shape stories. How do creators find the balance between creative expression and lived reality? We will also discuss the benefits of using cultural consultants to help ensure accurate and authentic narratives in film and TV.
TTIE is committed to creating more opportunities for accurate and authentic storytelling, as well as increasing inclusion and improving working conditions for all TV writers, particularly those from underrepresented communities. TTIE’s #WriteInclusion fact sheets were created to empower writers and creative executives to better reflect the lived experiences of marginalized communities.
These research-based fact sheets are designed as a tool to guide storytellers through a number of mis- and underrepresented communities and issues. They call out harmful stereotypes and call in more inclusive, authentic narratives. While these fact sheets cannot capture every experience, nuance, or truth of every community, they can assist in changing the way we tell stories.
Interested in other Guild events on Black writers and representation? Don’t miss the Committee of Black Writers’ Annual NAACP Image Award Nominated Writers Panel on February 25, 7-8:30 p.m., via Bluejeans Events. Hear from award winners and nominees about their lauded projects, writing in a new era of film and television, and the changing face of our industry. Panelists include Nicole Jefferson Asher (Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), and others to be announced. Members, plus one optional guest, must register online to attend.