In 2019, OWN, the leading network for Black women, and the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) SeeHer movement, founded to increase authentic portrayals of women and girls in marketing, media, advertising and entertainment, partnered to encourage brands to apply an intersectional lens and help more Black women see themselves authentically reflected in content. SeeHer and OWN launched the first-of-its-kind #WriteHerRight “Black Female Characters: Authentic Representation and Storytelling Guide,” which is the first co-developed resource from the partnership.
Designed to provide creative teams in advertising and entertainment with thoughtful ways to reflect Black women more accurately in media, the Guide features key questions and insights to illuminate the immense opportunity that lies in authentic representation of Black women and help empower storytellers to become more aware of potential blind spots and unconscious biases. The Guide also highlights the importance of investing in Black female talent at every level, including behind-the-camera, to ensure accurate reflections of Black women by fostering nuanced depictions of Black women in media, eliminating stereotypes.
Drawing from the creative expertise of OWN’s storytellers to devise an in-depth series of thought-provoking questions is a novel approach that lends to the Guide serving as a creative challenge with actionable insights. As brands continue to embrace their social responsibility to see and reflect the experiences of all consumers, particularly those who have been historically marginalized, the Guide serves as a robust resource to support efforts to leverage brand power to rewrite and reimagine the American story—where Black life is portrayed with deep humanity and care.
The Guide has several questions for storytellers to ask that fall into two main categories, which delineate between storylines and Black female character attributes that align with authentic representation opposed to perpetuating harmful stereotypes. The Guide was developed by ANA’s SeeHer through a unique process that incorporated evidence from literature reviews on content analysis, OWN original research, and surveys of OWN’s visionary talent who masterfully convey the beautiful complexities and intricacies of Black women’s stories. Key contributors from OWN’s leading talent include Paul Garnes (head of physical production for Array Filmworks and executive producer of OWN’s “Queen Sugar” and “Cherish the Day”), Dee Harris-Lawrence (showrunner/executive producer of the Peabody-winning “David Makes Man”), Tina Lifford (actress “Queen Sugar”), Cheryl Dunye (director “Queen Sugar,” “Greenleaf,” “Delilah”), and actress/comedian Kym Whitley (“Raising Whitley,” “Girlfriends Check In”).Executive leadership from the ANA’s SeeHer and OWN also provided input.