The Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE) has teemed with Storyline Partners, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Women In Film, ACLU, Color Of Change, Define American, The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Hollywood, Health & Society, Maytha Alhassen, Ph.D., Muslim Public Affairs Council, Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, and National Hispanic Media Coalition for the first six factsheets for its “#WriteInclusion: Tips for Accurate Representation” project which helps evaluate Hollywood’s systemic pattern of under- and misrepresenting marginalized communities in TV.
TTIE’s most recent “Behind the Scenes Report” found that 39.4% of underrepresented writers witnessed erasure and/or stereotyping of underrepresented characters when constructing stories in writers’ rooms, while 10.2% of underrepresented writers were fired for challenging stereotypical characters and stories underrepresented writers receive pushback from a production company, studio, and network executives when they attempt to tell accurate stories underrepresented writers are often not even hired to be in some TV show writers’ rooms. This should be a surprise, but it isn’t.
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To help break this pattern and cycle of systemic marginalization of underrepresented voices, the factsheets (which can be read here) give content creators a clearer understanding of these communities and guide them toward more authentic storytelling. With this first round of fact sheets, TTIE hopes to pave the road to eliminating overused tropes and stereotypes we often see on TV and film including Muslims as terrorists, Black and Latinx people as criminals, and Disabled people as broken.
The first six factsheets offer details about overused and harmful stereotypes pertaining to African Americans, Criminal Justice issues, Disabled People, Latinx People, Migrants, and Muslims. These factsheets aren’t a substitute for hiring underrepresented writers, but a way to start a dialogue and to be used in partnership with and in support of underrepresented creatives.
“In working with our partner organizations and reading all the factsheets, I have learned so much,” said Y. Shireen Razack, a founding member of TTIE and Co-Executive Producer on NBC’s New Amsterdam. “I was humbled to realize I’d been conditioned to believe certain things about marginalized communities that were categorically untrue. I was also thrilled to be educated about exciting new stories we could tell about all these communities that could help heal the divisions our country faces. These factsheets will inspire you as a writer. They inspired me!”
In the coming months, TTIE will roll out additional factsheets discussing Asians, LGBTQIA+, Southwest Asian and North African Peoples, Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples, Older Adults, Asian and Pacific Islanders, South Asians, Veterans, Women and Girls, and discussions are underway about creating many more. Additionally, TTIE and our partners at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University and WIF will host panels and lead discussions.
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