Preview: Inclusivity Now – Bringing Diversity to Life

Posted on: Friday 25 June 2021 10:39pm by Lydia Mossahebi

“When I was younger, I really didn’t understand how come kids on TV had blonde hair and why didn’t I have blonde hair? And then I just felt left out.” Mia – 11 years old 

Diversity and inclusion is so often discussed as something producers and content makers strive for, but what steps need to be made to turn that into a reality and create tangible results for young audiences? In this session, Bringing Diversity to Life, we sought experts from Mattel, Viacom and the BBC, who have made an impact in this space to discuss the ways they’ve found to deliver content that really cuts through to the audience. It’s an honest conversation about the challenges they found along the way, and how the industry can do better.

A focus of the discussion was the danger of stereotypes. Christopher Keenan from Mattel referenced the kids shows of the late 80s and early 90s that sought to tackle representation on screen by building ensembles that represented all races. The risk lies in trying to be all things to all people, and the result was the representation was superficial, and often slipped into just presenting varying skin tones on screen and nothing else. At times, it meant the characters fell into the stereotypes of the groups they were trying to portray.

A solution to this rests in characterisation and specificity, a point that was supported by Tom Cousins from the BBC and Series Producer of JoJo & Gran Gran. “Something we did with JoJo & Gran Gran very early on was make it very specific. It’s set in the modern day, in London, about a St Lucian family. The more specific we made it, the more you had a framework of research, more people to talk to, more consultants and writers.” By being specific with the characters and story, right down to the clothes they wear, they were able to bring an authentic representation on screen, and it’s this authenticity and relatability that resonates with young audiences. When a child can point at a character on screen and say “they’re just like me mummy”, that’s when we can see the power of representation in action.

Delivering on Diversity and Inclusion isn’t without its challenges; whether that is finding and nurturing the talent who can tell those stories, or working within business constraints. This session will explain in detail the practical ways to make sure your content and stories can deliver the diversity and inclusion messages we all strive to achieve. As Christopher Keenan explains: “There are so many ways to bake diversity in, and the more you can do from the start, the more authentic the end product will be.”

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Lydia Mossahebi

About the author

Lydia Mossahebi

Freelance, Digital Content Consultant

Lydia is a digital content strategist who specialises in working with kids and youth brands. Lydia is currently Editorial Director at KidsKnowBest, where she is responsible for the content strategy for a new range of kids digital products, and building the agency’s reputation for understanding kids and forecasting trends. Lydia… Read more