News Archive

November 17, 2021

Define American Releases Comprehensive Resource Guide for Best Practices on Immigrant Representation in TV and Film

Define American, a media advocacy and culture change organization that uses the power of narrative to humanize conversations about immigrants, has released today the 2021 edition of Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories: A Reference Guide for The Entertainment Industry, a comprehensive reference tool written for content creators, studios and production companies within Hollywood. With a focus on television and film, the guide is meant to inform and encourage best practices in telling immigrant stories and includes detailed descriptions, definitions, historical timelines, data and resources about specific communities, as well as insight into evolving topics such as DACA and climate displacement.

Define American, which has consulted on over 100 television and film projects including such popular TV shows as Grey’s Anatomy and Superstore, first released its entertainment media guide in 2017. The newly updated edition incorporates data and key findings from the organization’s 2020 television impact study published with USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center in which it revealed that only 12% of immigrant characters on TV consisted of AAPI immigrants – a community that represents 26% of the U.S. The resource also spotlights the Black immigrant population, revealing there were no depictions of Black undocumented characters on TV in 2019, according to the same study. The updated guide’s spotlight on AAPI and Black immigrants were produced in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and The UndocuBlack Network, respectively.

Providing further critical insight into a timely global issue, Define American, in partnership with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the International Refugee Assistance Project, also illustrates in the guide the current realities of climate displacement facing immigrant communities across the globe.

“Our research shows that immigrants continue to be underrepresented on screen. As such, Hollywood has a unique opportunity, a unique power, and a unique responsibility to meet the moment and make meaningful cultural change by authentically and accurately telling the disparate stories of our country,” said Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Tony-nominated producer Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American. “We are making great strides forward with more diverse and equitable hiring in front of and behind the camera, more inclusive stories, more immigrant writers, but we still have much work to do. We encourage content creators at every level to use this guide as a starting point in that journey.”

Commenting on the news, Nico Santos, star of Superstore and Crazy Rich Asians, stated: “The Define American team did amazing work with us at NBC’s Superstore over the years and helped me and the writers bring so much nuance to my character, Mateo. Even though I share so much of my personal journey with him – we’re both Filipino queer immigrants – the immigrant experience is not a monolith, and Define American is an incredible resource for those in the industry who want to tell our stories authentically.”

While immigrant experiences are broad and multi-faceted, narratives around immigration and the stories of undocumented people often play a key role in having enriched our nation and society. In addition to its entertainment media guide, Define American has released several other research studies and resource guides, including its report titled American Dreaming: The Roadmap to Resilience for Undocumented Storytellers, which highlights the mental health of undocumented storytellers in the movement. Define American is also one of the only organizations to provide grants that prioritizes undocumented and formerly undocumented artists.

To download “Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories: A Reference Guide for the Industry,” visit:

November 11, 2021

New #WriteInclusion Factsheet on Veterans Representation in Media

On this Veterans Day, we are proud to share a new #WriteInclusion Factsheet with tips on accurate, authentic storytelling about veterans.

What we put on screen impacts the way people move through society. It’s time the stories we tell responsibly reflect the world we live in, such as the authentic representation of U.S. military veterans. Write out harmful stereotypes!

Download the new Factsheet now at:

November 08, 2021

How Geena Davis is Fighting for Better Representation of Women On-Screen

Geena discusses her pioneering work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and how she has helped change the statistics around representation in Hollywood.

Watch the Fast Company interview:

July 29, 2021

Thinking Outside the Man Box

Geena Davis and Glow-Up Games CEO Mitu Khandaker discussed the results and takeaways of our new study about masculinity in games and online communities at the Game Developers Conference.

Read the article:

July 29, 2021

Geena Davis on Increasing Opportunities for Women on Screen

Geena Davis sat down with “CBS Sunday Morning” to discuss representation on-screen and her work with the Institute.

Thirty years after the Oscar-winning actress starred in the transcendent tale of female friendship “Thelma & Louise,” Geena Davis is still fighting to improve opportunities for women in the film industry. She talked with correspondent Tracy Smith about seeking change in front of, and behind, the camera; playing an athlete (and becoming one); and what she’d like her headstone to read.

Watch the “CBS Sunday Morning” interview:


April 15, 2021

CAA Launches Initiative to Improve Representation in Entertainment

Launched on Tuesday, April 13, The Full Story Initiative will act as an industry-wide resource with the purpose of generating “authentic narratives in television and film for a more equitable future,” according to the mission statement. The Full Story Initiative will connect creators at every level of entertainment with a nonprofit advisory board to support representation efforts. The Institute is proud to partner with CAA on the Full Story Initiative. Read More…

April 14, 2021

Forbes School of Business & Technology Center for Women’s Leadership Recognizes Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

The Forbes School of Business and Technology® Center for Women’s Leadership celebrated International Women’s Day with a Week of Resilience, March 5‒12, 2021. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was the recipient of the inaugural Center for Women’s Leadership 2021 Award for Excellence in Advancing Women’s Leadership which recognizes a leader and/or organization that has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to advancing gender equality and women as leaders in business and society. Read More…

November 10, 2020

Geena Davis’ Educational Series ‘Mission Unstoppable’ Returns to CBS For Season 2

“Mission Unstoppable,” the weekend CBS educational/informational series from Litton Entertainment, has been picked up for a second season. The show, from executive producer Geena Davis and hosted by Miranda Cosgrove (who also serves as an EP), returns with new episodes in January. “Unique intersectional female characters in entertainment and media are essential to challenging negative stereotypes and inspiring girls to pursue their dreams,” Davis said. “Girls need to see positive role models on and off the screen, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ ‘Mission Unstoppable’ strives to empower young women and showcases the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.” Read More…

November 02, 2020

Geena Davis Reacts to the ‘Dismal’ Findings of Her Center’s Study on Ageism in Hollywood: ‘It’s a Shame’

As a new study conducted by her organization and TENA (a popular female health + incontinence brand) shows, there’s still a long way to go. The results of the global Ageless Test, which examines how women ages 50 and over are portrayed in film, found only 1 in 4 films passed, with no women over 50 cast in any leading roles in 2019’s 30 top-grossing films from the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany. “I knew it was bad, but this really drove home how very dismal it is,” Davis, 64, tells PEOPLE. “If you look at lead characters in this study, there were no women, female characters over 50 leading. And it’s a shame, I mean, there are significant sectors of our society that are significantly underrepresented and definitely age is one of them, particularly for women.”

October 22, 2020

Geena’s Op-ed in Social Investor Magazine

Don’t miss Geena’s latest op-ed article, “If She Can See It, She Can Be It,” featured in Social Investor Magazine. Geena discusses her theory of change; and how onscreen images can shift the cultural narrative, advance social and gender justice and impact real-life overnight. She makes a case for investors to finance content creators and organizations like the Institute to transform children’s program development. Read more on pages 62-65…