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The Power of Diversity: Uncovering Original Fresh Stories

When the latest saga of the diaspora wars erupted on #BlackTwitter and #BlackTiktok over South African singer Tyla identifying as Coloured instead of Black (as would be the norm in the U.S.A.,) I thought, "Here we go again." In what feels like a never-ending, bi-annual occurrence, African Americans and Africans took to social media (running up numbers in the process) to discuss how the effects of colonialism and apartheid have shaped our views on race. As the cultural commentary swept from niche corners of social media and leaked into the mainstream (BBC Africa), my storytelling mind had already outlined three to five short & long-form media projects that could profoundly impact culture. With extraordinary shifts happening in diversity worldwide and outdated Hollywood storylines the norm, I believe the media industry is due for a makeover, presenting a tremendous opportunity for those who embrace it.

The media industry is stale, with cisgender, heterosexual white males owning a majority of the industry or occupying most of the positions. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center  in 2022 revealed that 76% of journalists who participated were white, while only 8% identified as Hispanic, 6% as Black, and 3% as Asian. Biases are prevalent in media due to non-diverse workforces relying on the same perspectives and viewpoints. Despite many organizations making pledges to create more equitable workplaces after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, few have followed through with their promises. The media industry is no different.

The United States and the western world are increasingly becoming more diverse. It is projected that by 2045, white people will no longer be the racial majority. Furthermore, 48% of Gen Z identifies as non-white. These facts indicate emerging markets for those who are aware of them. However, tapping into these opportunities can only be possible if media companies genuinely believe in the power of diversity, consciously seek out fresh new talent, and change their current working methods.

Earlier this month, during my visit to my uncle in Andhra Pradesh, India, I noticed he was watching various Nollywood dramas on his mobile for entertainment at night. This experience made me realize the growing trend of media cross-pollination happening in different cultures worldwide. There's an opportunity to create intentional media and content that can simultaneously touch the hearts and minds of people in various locations, including India, East Africa (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya), the Caribbean, the U.S.A., the U.K., Canada, and beyond. However, to make this a reality, having a diverse team with different experiences and cultural backgrounds is crucial to producing something meaningful. Forward-thinking media companies are investing in their future by grooming tomorrow's leaders today. Those who continue to uphold the status quo will never create fresh takes on culture.

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