Q. What was the inspiration for Our Stories?
A. Our Stories was inspired by a desire for more diverse, nuanced and meaningful representations of young people, people of color, and girls and femmes in our media and pop culture. What would it mean, and look like, if we centered girls and gender non-conforming youth of color, and supported them as storytellers who are architects of their own lives?
We know the power of pop culture to change culture, and with this project — the most ambitious media initiative of its kind — we aim to change the way America sees, hears and imagines a generation of girls.
Q. Why did you choose to focus on girls and gender non-conforming youth of color?
A. At Breakthrough, we are committed to amplifying voices from marginalized communities, recognizing how structural inequalities, harmful social norms and a lack of authentic and positive media representation go hand in hand. In this political moment, we could not think of a community more worthy of uplifting than girls and gender non-conforming youth of color.
Q. What are the main pieces of the project?
A. A documentary and photography series will be at the project’s core. We will also support Our Stories participants to build innovative multimedia skills, and partner with local organizations to hold workshops, arts showcases, and other community events.
Q. What role do community partners play in the project?
A. Our partners represent diverse communities of color, and ground the Our Stories project in the lived experiences, community organizing work, and cultural heritage of these communities. In 2020 – 2022, Breakthrough will host a series of Community Conversations, which will be co-designed and co-facilitated by our partners.
Q. What do you hope to achieve?
A. Through Our Stories, we hope to expand and deepen the representation, leadership, and voice of gender non-conforming youth of color across the US. With our documentary series, United States of Girls, we aim to represent girls and gender non-conforming youth with greater nuance and diversity than ever before, and give them a platform to share their stories, on an unprecedented scale.
We will also support Our Stories participants to learn more about mediamaking, and access mentorship opportunities so they can continue innovating and storytelling, long after the project ends.
Through our community partnerships, we aim to increase the visibility of grassroots organizations committed to social justice and the arts, helping to ensure their longevity.
We hope this work will not only lead to increased public dialogue about the issues affecting girls’ lives, but also inspire more radically inclusive social policies, and bring additional resources to marginalized communities.