Expert members include directors, producers, and executives from major production studios
Contact: Alise Murawski
Senior Communications Associate
Religion & Society Program
Washington, D.C., November 16, 2022 –– The Religion and Society Program at the Aspen Institute today announced the formation of a new working group of experts and leaders in the film, television, and entertainment industry to focus on religious diversity and representation in media. Cohort members will join the nearly 100 other experts convened in the Program’s Powering Pluralism Network.
“Storytelling is such an important medium for creating empathy, but it only works if we share the fullness of our human stories,” said Simran Jeet Singh, Executive Director of the Religion & Society Program. “Representing diverse communities with care and integrity will help us combat negative stereotypes and enhance our abilities to connect with one another.”
Members will convene in person this month to explore issues of religious diversity on screen, including who has the power to write and produce those stories. Together, they will uncover what tools or resources need to be created to change the existing reality of representation, particularly of marginalized religious communities. They do this work with the belief and commitment that when diverse stories, experiences, and cultures are omitted or misrepresented within the media landscape, this absence will result in negative biases and stereotypes with serious repercussions.
“Our research confirms the power stories have in how young people view themselves, especially when it comes to representation,” said Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, a member of the working group. “I founded the Center for Scholars & Storytellers to help bridge the academic and media world by bringing research, insights and important conversations from academia into the creative community. Now is the time for these conversations and resources to include religious diversity in media.”
The cohort’s work will culminate in a resource published next year to specifically serve the film and television industry in providing for improved representation and inclusion of diverse religious communities. A list of the members inducted into the cohort can be found here.
The Powering Pluralism Network is an invitation-only national network of faith and civic leaders, academics, funders, and other key players who are working in religious pluralism. The Religion & Society Program believes strongly in the power of collective impact: by working together and learning from one another, we can more effectively solve the challenges we face.
The Religion and Society Program at the Aspen Institute works to strengthen the understanding of religion’s role in advancing equity and the common good by shifting ideas, policies and practices. The Program does this to foster religious pluralism, a vision of society in which religious and nonreligious people thrive, respecting and engaging together across beliefs. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/religion.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.