MIA Magazine 2018 American Black Film Festival - Page 14

14BB AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018 MPAA’s John Gibson Aims to Expand Opportunities for Minority Storytellers By Zach Rinkins MPAA's John Gibson poses with Black Panther film director Ryan Coogler. As an ambassador for diverse content creators, John Gibson travels the globe touting the universal appeal and profitability of multicultural stories. Despite what appears to be a glamorous gig, Gibson’s job as the Motion Picture Association of America’s deputy chief of staff and senior director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives is very serious work. “I am somebody who is fighting on behalf of creators of color, women, and those in the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) space,” Gibson said. “I am a firm believer that we really need to get everyone’s story out there.” MPAA is the film and television industry’s trade association and advocacy group. Its members are Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios LLC, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. The association also provides audience ratings for films. Gibson originally started as a special projects administrator with MPAA. While diversity and inclusion continue to have different meaning for different people, Gibson's definition offers clarity. “We believe in diversity, inclusion, and belonging,” Gibson affirmed. “Diversity is having someone that looks like you in the room. Inclusion is having them participate in the activity or discussion, but we take it a step further with belonging meaning we allow you to come as your authentic, perfectly gifted self and participate. This is the core of what MPAA does.” Before joining MPAA, the University of Maryland graduate worked on diversity issues and marketing at Holland & Knight, LLP, and Akin Gump, LLP. In 2012, the association tasked the Washington, D.C. native with establishing its diversity and inclusion program. “Part of this role allows me to interface with a lot of film festivals, which Diversity is having someone that looks like you in the room. Inclusion is having them participate in the activity or discussion, but we take it a step further with belonging, meaning we allow you to come as your authentic perfectly gifted self and participate. are the breeding grounds of creators of color and women,” Gibson said. “Having the MPAA, which is the face of the industry, on the ground at these film festivals is helpful in assisting them with identifying the next generation of great talent. It is critical.” While all association members have diversity and inclusion programs, Gibson strives to promote and make the public aware of these resources and opportunities. He helps organize and MPAA's John Gibson addresses a gathering at a past ABFF. supports festivals, panels, and discussions that target minority and LGBTQIA creatives. “Hidden Figures, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Fate of the Furious were blockbusters because they had good stories and multicultural casts,” offered Gibson, a member of the ABFF Board of Advisors. “People like looking at characters they can relate to. He also facilitated a strategic partnership with the American Black Film Festival. “As a society, we benefit when we learn from each other,” he explained. “In this current environment that the country is under, stories representing all of us really need to be told. We are at a crossroads right now. The more we understand each other, the more we can relate to and support each other.” For more information about MPAA resources for diverse storytellers, log on to www.mpaa.org/what-we-do/ supporting-storytellers/.