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Photo by: Dia Dipasupil/Staff

The future of the entertainment industry is female. A woman of color to be exact.

Actress Bresha Webb, along with Mercedes Cooper, SVP of programming at ARRAY, Ada Chiaghana, development executive at Higher Ground and Chardae Jenkins, PR executive at Netflix recently discussed their experiences of being a Black woman in the industry during a Shadow and Act panel.

The panel entitled “Powerful Black Women Shaping the Industry” not only highlighted each woman’s career, but also how they each used their experiences to improve and enhance the field.

“I realized that the communication medium of film can time travel ideas,” Chiaghana said.

The development exec at Higher Ground continued: “It can travel across the world, it can travel through space… and I really fell in love with the power of the medium to communicate ideas, to communicate feelings, to help us feel like we’re part of something, to help us learn.”

Ada Chiaghana

Photo by: Ada Chiaghana/Hollywood Reporter

Chiaghana credited her fascination with the film industry to her film-loving family. While in a slump during her time at a predominately white university, she used film to cope/learn.

But, for Webb, her favorite aspect of being an actress is improving representation for Black women.

Netflix Limited Series Colin In Black And White Premiere

Photo by: Leon Bennett/Getty

“Representation in this industry as Black women matters the most. Just having a seat at that table and what that changes, the dynamic and the decisions that are made.”

Jenkins also acknowledged that Black women are making huge strides in the film industry. She said with more of us in the right room, we’re asking the questions that no one is asking.

“We’re providing perspectives, the insight, from personal experience, from being raised in households to having commonality and not just in an American Black experience, but also a global Black experience,” the PR executive of Netflix continued. “We’re able to…actively listen in a way where we’re providing perspective that is shifting a lot of the ideology of…what publicity or marketing is behind the scenes.”

Lastly, Cooper gave advice to Black women and other minorities. She urged whose who want to break into the industry to stay true to themselves.

Film Independent Forum - Day 3

Photo by: Frazer Harrison/Getty

“Stay strong in your individuality,” she said. “That’s what makes us all beautiful no matter what gender we are identifying as or ethnicity we are identifying with.”

And how do you do that? “Just showing up as you, even if it’s misunderstood or maybe not accepted on your initial [journey in your career],” she said.

The SVP of programming of ARRAY added: “If it’s something you feel very strongly about…keep going, find others who are like-minded and get on board and support and understand where you’re coming from rather than fighting against those who are not.”

Shout out to these amazing women that are allowing other women of color to have a seat at the table! 

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