When computer scientists, programmers, and other tech-driven roles are portrayed on-screen, there is usually a specific “look” attached to those characters. Now two dynamic women, along with the help of Google and the "GODCOMPLX" web series, are aiming to change that look, both on-screen and in real life.
Daraiha Greene, head of strategic partnerships and community and inclusion for Google, paired up with Television Executive Producer, Claire Conroy Brown to create "GODCOMPLX," a web-series that features computer scientists from all walks of life – women, people of color, people of different faiths, people with disabilities, and people who identify as LBTQIA+. Season 2 of the series was just released in May.
“Every time you see a computer scientist or someone who is creating technology on screen, it’s usually a white or Asian male with glasses and a hoodie and flip-flops and you know that image is fine, but we want to make that more inclusive at Google,” said Greene.
In addition to Google's support of "GODCOMPLX," the tech giant has also partnered with KTLA's parent company, Tribune Broadcasting, through the Google News Initiative, to a launch diversity and inclusion storytelling arm based in Los Angeles. The partnership launched in February 2019.
According to a Geena Davis Foundation 2018 statistic, “82.7 percent of girls and women think it is important to see girls/women in STEM in films and television, but only 37.1 percent of STEM character portrayals are female.”
In Hollywood, despite gains in front of and behind the camera, women and minorities remain underrepresented in film and television.
It’s no secret that major opportunity gaps exist for underrepresented groups and many industries are now being challenged to bridge those gaps through diversity and inclusion initiatives. Brown and Green knew that if they wanted to see more diversity and inclusiveness in their respective fields, they had to work together to be part of the change they wanted to see in tech and entertainment.
Changing The Model From the Inside Out
From the start, Claire and Daraiha had one goal in mind when developing "GODCOMPLX": to create access and job opportunities for qualified underrepresented individuals in hopes that it will become a norm. Girl power was in full effect with their 95% female crew of writers, producers, cinematographer, directors and more. Morenike Joela, who was the director on season 1 of "GODCOMPLX" was promoted to showrunner and director for Season 2.
“You need your writer’s room to have diverse experiences and opportunities. How else are you going to write stuff that connects with an audience?” said Joela.
Tech Mashup Coming Together to Be Allies
Together with Google, Green and Brown launched Google’s first ever Tech + Entertainment Mashup, which was held at Google’s trendy Spruce Goose Hangar in Los Angeles.
“We have a great event at Google, where we highlight the intersections between computer science, and other industries like music, dance, fashion, sports, theater and storytelling,” said Greene.
Students and parents were invited to preview season 2 of "GODCOMPLX" and interact with new technologies in VR, AR, coding and filmmaking during breakout sessions. Staying true to their form Green and Brown wanted the event to be as inclusive as possible.
“We are bringing in 150 kids from all around the LAUSD school district, and really wanted to also reach out to the LGBT center and we are bringing in kids from there and just to give kids that wouldn’t normally get access – access to something really special. And again, giving them opportunities and get them excited about their futures and that’s a dream of ours in bringing both these worlds together,” said Brown.
Other industry influencers participated in a panel at the collaborative event included moderator Karin Gist, a television executive producer and showrunner; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Global Head of Community Inclusion at Google; Lena Waithe, Emmy award-winning writer, producer and actor; and, Nyle DiMarco, a model, actor, and deaf activist.
“It’s so important now that we take the role as allies and invest in communities that are underrepresented and make sure we have a more diverse workforce,” said Butterfield Jones.
After the preview of "GODCOMPLX" at the Mashup, the inspirational panel used the show as an example to encourage the young audience to believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to despite any hardships they may be facing because “ if you see it you can be it.”
Season 2 of "GODCOMPLX" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.