Shadow and Act, an official media partner at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, recently hosted SVP of programming Mercedes Cooper (ARRAY), development executive Ada Chiaghana (Higher Ground), PR executive Chardae Jenkins (Netflix) and actress Bresha Webb to discuss what it's like to be a woman of color in entertainment.
The panel, Powerful Black Women Shaping the Industry, featured the women talking about their experiences in the industry and how they have helped change the industry for the better.
Chiaghana said that she became interested in the film industry thanks to her film-loving family. She also used film as a way to learn during a time when she was in a personal rut at a predominately-white institution (PWI).
"I realized that the communication medium of film can time travel ideas. It can travel across the world, it can travel through space," she said, "…and I really fell in love with the power of the medium to communicate ideas, to communicate feelings, to help us feel like we're part of something, to help us learn."
Webb also added that what she loves about being in the the industry is expanding representation for Black women, saying, "Representation in this industry as Black women matters the most. Just having a seat at that table and what that changes, the dynamic and the decisions that are made."
Jenkins also said that she is excited about Black women changing the game in film.
"I think I would say especially seing more of us in these roles and more of us in these rooms, we're asking the questions that no one is asking," she said. "We're providing perspectives, the insight, from personal experience, from being raised in households to having commonality and not just in an American Black experience, but also a global Black experience…We're able to…actively listen in a way where we're providing perspective that is shifting a lot of the ideology of…what publicity or marketing is behind the scenes."
Cooper said her advice to Black women and other minorities trying to get into the industry is to stay true to who you are.
"Stay strong in your individuality. That's what makes us all beautiful no matter what gender we are identifying as or ethnicity we are identifying with. Just showing up as you, even if it's misunderstood or maybe not accepted on your initial [journey in your career]," she said. "…Stand strong in your individuality and your ideas, and if it's something you feel very strongly about…keep going, find others who are like-minded and get on board and support and understand where you're coming from rather than fighting against those who are not."
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape.
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