August 04, 2022

The Global Institute for Black Girls in Film & Media Launches at ArtCenter

Research collective to explore how scholars, artists, filmmakers and visual storytellers understand the ways Black girls are valued across film and media

ArtCenter College of Design has established The Global Institute for Black Girls in Film & Media (The Institute), a research collective designed to help scholars, artists, filmmakers and visual storytellers shine a light on how Black girls are represented in film, television and across other mediums.

To kick things off, an online Think Tank event—the first in a series of free public discussions to be presented by The Institute—will take place on Saturday, August 6. To RSVP, or for more information, visit here.

The origins of The Institute date back to 2021, when ArtCenter invited Dr. Lisa Covington to conduct a scholarly presentation on her research on Black girls in film. Moved by the dearth of scholarship on Black girls in film as presented by Covington, The Center for Diversity Equity and Inclusion took the initiative to call upon the expertise of Covington, filmmaker and alumna Elizabeth Gray Bayne and Scholar in Residence Ricky Weaver to form the Founding Advisory Board for The Institute.

The Institute is designed by Black women to center Black women and girls and honor the nuance of their varying experiences on and off the screen.

“My favorite film growing up was Crooklyn (1994) directed by Spike Lee,” said advisory board member Gray Bayne. “This film was a revelation for a little Black girl in cornrows who rarely saw herself on screen. That’s why I’m so excited for this inaugural Think Tank. We’ll be talking to Black girls and women about the stories and images that inspire them.”

“To nurture this kind of scholarly work at an institution like ArtCenter is an important part of equipping our students with the skills to tell authentic Black stories in media,” said Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Aaron Bruce. “We believe The Institute will have a ripple effect across our campus community, through the entertainment industry and hope that this group can inspire more scholarship of this kind at other art and design schools globally.”

The Institute will focus on three key pillars.

1. Professional Development and Executive Education – Hosting seminars and workshops that guide industry leaders, educators and community stakeholders to make informed, inclusive and strategic decisions about Black girl representation, diverse identities, media, messaging and stories.

2. Research and Decoding – Exploring the phenomenon of Black girls in film and media through research, scholarly dialogue, exhibits, panel discussions, articles and publications. The Institute facilitates a membership based “Think Tank” which convenes college students, scholars, designers, artists, industry professionals and community members who value Black girls in film and in the creative production process.

3. Youth Empowerment and Community Engagement – Facilitating workshops and community-based activities designed to empower Black girls and their families globally.


The Institute is committed to interdisciplinary educational excellence in media; promoting an understanding of the representations of Black girls in coursework; incorporating public engagement as essential to the campus-community collaborative; engaging productively with local, regional, national and international organizations to advance respect for centering Black girls across media, audiences and industry professionalization.

Learning Objectives

By examining films, including but not limited to production processes and narratives, The Institute will interrogate the systems at play when framing Black girlhood. The Institute will reinforce the importance of accurate representation by understanding the power of myths and storytelling. By calling into question existing notions of Black girlhood, The Institute will trace their origins and trajectories. New possibilities will be imagined for how to engage with narratives of Black girlhood in cinema, advertising and media.

Impact and Outcomes

The outcome of this collective is to strengthen career pathways to the creative economy for underrepresented populations. The community will provide historical context and media literacy that will help shape representations of Black girlhood. Through culturally-responsive curriculum and creative skills development, The Institute will facilitate high impact learning opportunities. Ultimately, this will promote the creation of data-driven, inclusive content for a historically overlooked consumer base.

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About ArtCenter:
Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round extension programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status in recognition of its commitment to social impact design through Designmatters. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396.2385 office

Think Tank

Lisa Covington Ph. D.

Ricky Weaver

Elizabeth Gray Bayne