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CAA Launches ‘Full Story Initiative’ to Improve Portrayals of Marginalized Communities

Effort aims to help creators shape more authentic and representative content connected to underrepresented communities and social issues

Creative Artists Agency and the CAA Foundation, in collaboration with leading nonprofit and international organizations, launched the Full Story Initiative, providing resources for content creators in film and television seeking to responsibly and authentically address social issues and portray historically underrepresented communities in their work, the agency announced on Tuesday.

The resources include a specialized content integration toolkit developed with subject-matter experts from leading nonprofit and international organizations; research reports that illustrate the impact of culturally competent and authentic narratives among audiences; and event-based programming. CAA has also developed tracking systems and cultural script coverage processes and trainings for agency employees to ensure that themes, characters or storylines that address social issues or marginalized communities are identified for potential Full Story Initiative collaboration.

“We have a responsibility and opportunity to effect social change through storytelling, especially as audiences demand more authenticity in stories and seek out content to help them navigate our evolving social climate,” Maddy Roth of the CAA Foundation said in a statement. “Our approach is inspired by the decades of work led by the organizations and narrative change leaders on our Advisory Council. We’re excited to further bring their expertise to the creative community to help inspire more nuanced narratives and accelerate the change we want to see in the world.”

Combining the insight of writers, entertainment executives, and social issue experts, the Full Story Initiative Toolkit includes topic-specific backgrounders, Frequently Asked Questions, best practices, glossaries, case studies, and a collection of further resources that illustrate best-in-class portrayals of various social issues and diverse communities. The Toolkit is available at www.fullstoryinitiative.com.

Additionally, in partnership with the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA, the Initiative will conduct a study, to be published later this year, that will look at 1,000 movies over 10 years to examine how telling diverse and inclusive stories impact success metrics such as box office, critical ratings and awards.

“Research finds that stories can inspire, change behavior in both positive and negative ways, shape perceptions of social norms and both lift up and marginalize some groups,” added Yalda T. Uhls, executive director of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers. “We believe that the positive impact of storytelling is maximized when industry and academia work together. That’s why we are thrilled to be working with CAA on this exciting research program.”

The CAA Foundation and the NRDC are hosting on Friday, April 23, a private Climate Storytelling Summit, bringing together entertainment industry leaders and creatives with environmental movement leaders, researchers, and messaging experts, to share best practices for communicating about the climate emergency and inspiring action in the years ahead.

The CAA Foundation was founded in 1995, making it the first Hollywood agency to have a philanthropic arm with a mission to activate popular culture to create sustainable social change.

Advisory Council collaborators include the Alzheimer’s Association; the American Civil Liberties Union; Amnesty International USA; caregiving advocacy organization, Caring Across Generations; The Center for Scholars & Storytellers; the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE); online racial justice organization Color of Change; immigrant-focused culture change organization, Define American; Everytown for Gun Safety; the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; LGBTQ media advocacy organization, GLAAD; intersectional community of well-known artists and activists, Harness; Hollywood, Health & Society; Human Rights Campaign (HRC); native peoples organization IllumiNative; the suicide prevention nonprofit Jed Foundation; the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA); National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC); the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA); Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN); disability advancement nonprofit RespectAbility; and Save the Children; narrative change collective Storyline Partners; and the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI).

Variety first reported the news on the Full Story Initiative.