Students in Owen Eagan’s Special Events class helped launch a national project earlier this month that aims to increase awareness of and opportunities for people of color in the entertainment industry.
The Kaleidoscope Project, created by Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association, in partnership with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, kicked off November 8 with an event conceived, planned, and coordinated by Emerson students. It featured a panel of industry experts, including former ABC News anchor and Emerson faculty member Carole Simpson and Visual and Media Arts Assistant Professor Maria Agui Carter, discussing the crucial role critics of color play in promoting issues of diversity in film and television.
“This project was a good way of [using] a case study to demonstrate how critical special events are for the integrated marketing mix,” said Eagan, a communications strategist and lecturer in the Communication Studies Department.
In addition to managing the November 8 event, his students helped Robertson develop and create content for kaleidoscopereviews.com, delivered a special events and marketing plan for the site, and handled logistics for the event. “We planned this for months,” said Eagan, who met Robertson when he sat on a panel discussion about the Oscars at Emerson Los Angeles last semester.
The site, currently a work in progress, will eventually include not just film reviews by people of color, but also profiles and articles about influential people of color in the industry.
Laura Londoño ’18 contributed a profile of Golden Globe-nominated Puerto Rican actress Gina Rodriquez, star of The CW’s Jane the Virgin. Londoño, a Communication Studies major, said she was drawn to Eagan’s class because as someone intent on working for nonprofits, she needs to know how to create a successful event.
Creating a successful event is challenging, the students learned. They had to figure out not only what kind of event would be ideal to launch the product, but also every last logistical detail, find the money to execute the project, and come up with a way to market the event, Londoño said.
And Robertson, the Kaleidoscope Project’s founder and their panel’s headliner, lives across the country in Los Angeles.
As a sophomore at Boston Arts Academy, Londoño studied acting and worked on an independent film, so she said she knows how “empowering” it is to get her voice heard artistically as a Latina.
By highlighting non-white artists and industry executives, as well as providing an outlet for artistic criticism by people of color, Kaleidoscope is trying to motivate more people of color to participate in the evaluation of, and discussions around, an industry that doesn’t always consider their point of view, she said.
“Latinos are being represented as maids and criminals [in films and TV], and that’s not really who we are,” Londoño said. “We encourage other fellow people of color to critically think of these representations so we can motivate more presence [by people of color] in the industry.”