On Twitter today, a historic movement is happening. It might look as though just a bunch of pixels are moving back and forth across the screen, but real change is taking place before our eyes. And it's all thanks to "Selma" director Ava Duvernay and her inspirational film collective, AFFRM, or the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement. AFFRM is dedicated to increasing diversity within the film and entertainment worlds, specifically by getting distribution for more films by black creators. @AFFRM created the hashtag #ARRAY to promote their Rebel-A-Thon, the organization's second annual membership drive. But the campaign is much more than just a big fundraising effort. To attract more members — and because DuVernay is as influential as she is talented — AFFRM enlisted the help of 42 black filmmakers, who will be available on Twitter throughout the day. They will be answering questions and promoting conversation about the need for a multitude of voices, identities, and experiences within the film industry.
The response has been truly incredible. Directors who have helmed projects as different as "Barbershop" (George Tillman, Jr.) and "Daughters of the Dust" (Julie Dash), and everyone in between, have been answering questions from fans, prospective filmmakers, and activists who are striving to add their perspectives to our overly-white film industry.
To participate in the campaign, head to AFFRM's website.
But DuVernay isn't the only one calling for more diversity.
As filmmaking tools become cheaper and easier to use, more people of various backgrounds have access to make art and entertainment that reflects their experiences. But, particularly at major studios, black filmmakers and films about people of color are still grossly underrepresented.
Here's what five other creatives had to say on the subject:
The creator of "Grey's Anatomy" and Scandal" had this to say at this year's Human Rights Campaign Gala:
"Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal WAY more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary. I am making the world of television look NORMAL. The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn't look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them."
The "Bad Feminist" author said this to JCOnline:
"You have to be willing to see people beyond what you imagine them to be. You have to look beyond stereotypes. That's the biggest challenge, because a lot of our cultural myths are so deeply ingrained that we can't function without them. Things are getting better in some realms, but they're not getting better fast enough or broadly enough. If we don't have any hope that things are getting better, then what are we doing? Then we're just sort of existing. I want to live. I don't want to exist."
The Oscar-winning actress told Buzzfeed that we've still got work to do:
"I want to see more Asian, I want to see more Latin, I want more Indian. There's more than Mindy Kaling out there, guys! There's more than Bai Ling. There's more than the five or six of us — Kerry, Viola, myself, Taraji, Nicole Beharie. There are so many more women and men who deserve opportunities. People of color. Period. ...Let's continue the Rainbow Coalition. Let's have television and film reflect the broader spectrum of our society as a whole. Then, it will be a greater time to celebrate."
Davis used her 2015 SAG acceptance speech to address ageism and the lack of roles for non-white actors in Hollywood:
"When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen. Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life, and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, 'Mommy, can you put me in the story?' And you know, it starts from the top up."
She also thanked people in the industry who are using their influence to create roles for all types of people: "And thank you to all the people who love me exactly how God made me."
Oprah made sure to point out, at a Paley Center event, that just having black characters on screen isn't enough. Their stories also have to reflect the diversity of the African American experience:
"We've got to keep telling our stories because our experiences are so broad and rich and multifaceted, there isn't just one way to be black or ish. The more stories we share the more reflective we can be of the whole diverse African American community."
If you feel passionately about this issue, you can help
Check out some of AFFRM's work here:
Like this story? Click the button below to share!