Let's Talk About Representation

October 29, 2019

This month, our creative partners are shining a light on the importance of representation in television, film, literature, and comedy. Whether breaking down barriers themselves or advocating for greater representation in film, television, and comedy on behalf of others, their efforts are making a tangible difference.


Joseph Clift (CC ‘19) produced and co-hosted the second ever Ghost Of Christopher Columbus Theater Smudging Spectacular Native American Comedy Showcase at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. The show featured over a dozen Native comedic acts from all around the country. Explaining his purpose for starting the showcase, Joey said, “Native folks aren't often given opportunities to perform at the big comedy theaters in Los Angeles, so I started putting this show together last year to give us a place to showcase our comedic skills.” For two consecutive years, the show was a standing room only sellout.

Lizania Cruz, The Laundromat Project, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (CC ‘16) hosted an afternoon of art, story-sharing, and organizing at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza. The show—full of participatory interventions—marked the closing event for Lizania’s Create Change Residency project with The Laundromat Project, We The News (2017-2019). Learn more!


Aisha Shillingford (CC ‘17) and Terry Marshall, who together make up Intelligent Mischief, co-helmed a new anthology, Black Freedom Beyond Borders: Re-imagining Gender in Wakanda. The anthology is second in a series of collective imagining and features fan fiction, art, and poetry that are “vision-led, future-facing, revolutionary, and social justice oriented from all those across the gender spectrum who believe in and are committed to gender justice and liberation, and the power of speculative fiction.”

Grey’s Anatomy, the longest running primetime medical show in television history, has helped shine a light on various pressing social issues. In commentary for Family Values at Work, Co-Director Ellen Bravo (CC ‘19) lifts up a recent episode highlighting the struggle many workers face in choosing between paid work and unpaid time off (and possible bankruptcy) to care for a loved one.


Saya, a short film directed by Anam Abbas and Fawzia Mirza (CC ‘19), is a love letter to Karachi, Pakistan and “explores the ways in which the city erases or exerts power over women, land, faith and indigenous ownership and tradition.” In October, the film screened at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Recently, The Los Angeles Times listed the 20 best Asian American films of the last 20 years, including two films directed by Grace Lee (CC ‘14): “American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs,” which follows the late Detroit-based activist known for her advocacy for black communities during the civil rights era; and “The Grace Lee Project,” a documentary that “upends stereotypes about Asian female passivity.”


Stories Beyond Borders is a collection of documentary films aimed at showing a more complete picture of the ongoing attacks against immigrant families and communities. “Beyond building empathy, these five short films lift up real stories of resilience and strength, while illustrating some of the ways people can give their time, energy, and resources to support organizing led by immigrant communities.” The collection is curated by National Domestic Workers Alliance, NAKASEC, UndocuBlack Network, United We Dream, and Working Films (co-directed by Molly Murphy (CC ‘16)).

Johnny Perez (CC ‘17) is seeking help with identifying five women directly impacted by solitary confinement for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s (NRCAT’s) newly formed advisory council. The council will help shape and guide NRCAT’s upcoming work on solitary confinement, which spans nine states, all with active legislative campaigns to end the practice. Contact Johnny Perez on Facebook.

Water Warriors is a documentary by Andrew Stern and Michael Premo (CC ‘12,’14). When an energy company begins searching for natural gas in rural New Brunswick, Canada, the indigenous community and non-native locals unite to drive out the company — and the Canadian police — to protect their land and water. Watch Water Warriors on PBS on November 4th.

"A Comedian and An Activist Walk Into A Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice," by Lauren Feldman and Caty Borum Chattoo (CC ‘17, ‘19), is now available for pre-order.


The book explains how comedy – both in the entertainment marketplace and as cultural strategy – can engage audiences with issues such as global poverty, climate change, immigration, and sexual assault. The book also covers how activists work with comedy to reach and empower the public in the age of digital media. Reserve your copy before it launches in March 2020!

Join organizers, artists, media makers, and policy makers for “Cultural Organizing for Community Change,” a workshop on effective ways to deepen your work and engage your creativity in organizing for community change. Co-hosted by Arts & Democracy and Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts NY (NOCD-NY), the workshop will be held at Groundswell in Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 8th. Register here.


American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) recently published “Crossing South,” a new guide for people who have been deported or have voluntarily chosen to return to Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The guide, available in English and Spanish, contains country-specific information on preparing for one’s return, what to do if one has time versus if one is immediately detained, important safety information for when one lands, and lists of nonprofit organizations providing assistance.

The CAPE New Writers Fellowship discovers and nurtures emerging writers launching their careers in television and film. Created by Emmy Award-winning creator and showrunner Leo Chu and veteran film and TV executive Steve Tao, the immersive fellowship offers practical and business knowledge needed to succeed as a professional writer in the entertainment industry. Learn more here.