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Helping Minority Women Break Into Film, TV, and Theater

Photo courtesy of Carla Jackson

Many African-American and Hispanic women interesting stories to tell, but don’t always have the platform to do it. As in many professions, minority women are underrepresented in film, theater, and television.

Austin film producer Carla Jackson is trying to do something about that. She’s hosting a free producing and writing forum for minority women next Thursday at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus.  

The workshop is called Women Doing it For Themselves, and it brings successful local women into the same room as their aspiring colleagues to share information and to help fresh talent get off the ground.

We called Jackson to ask about it.

KUT News: What is “Women Doing It For Themselves”?

Carla Jackson: What I realized after trying to work with multiple different productions with women across Austin is that there is some great theater and great film, but so often, women of color’s voices were missing. They either weren’t in the film, or they weren’t on stage. They didn’t produce it.

It certainly isn’t for a lack of productivity. There is some great work happening.

I thought it would be a really great idea to bring together women like Amparo Garcia-Crow, like Timeca Seretti, who’s an actress and a film maker, and Maganthrie Pillay.

All of these people are making their way creatively in Austin successfully. I said, “Why don’t I pair them with the women who want to do that and have so many valid reasons for not doing that?”

I realized by doing that, we could bring more of this fantastic art, whose voice is often unheard, to Austin. Because if you want your story told you have to do it yourself. No one can do it better.

KUT News: We often hear the stories involving minority women, but they’re not always written by minority women.

Jackson: Exactly. I’ll give you an example. Almost every time I see the name “Carla” on television, she’s a prostitute with a heart of gold. Not exactly what I’m interested in looking for.

I’m Carla. I’m fortunate enough to be associate director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies [at Austin Community College]. When I’m not doing that, I’ve been able to put on international dance championships. My story is actually kind of interesting.

We’re here. We eat. We breathe. We live, and we also want to be able to talk about what it’s like to be in the world creatively, and in ways that I think other people want to hear about. All of us have intertwined lives. How about we give each other a peek into what that life is?

KUT News:  How could that change people’s perceptions of minorities?

Jackson: What happens is, people get used to seeing women of color in a certain way, for example on television. That affects how we deal with our neighbor. That affects how we make decisions at city council. That affects how we make decisions when we’re deciding where to live.

If we don’t know our neighbor through story and song, then how in the world are we going to be able to want to see those stories elsewhere?  We just decide that’s something we won’t be interested in. It’s a story about life. It’s not just a story about being black or Hispanic.

There is a lot of that, except for music. But I really don’t want to have to wait until Juneteenth to have to see something.

You can find more information about Jackson’s free writing and producing workshop on ACC’s creative writing blog.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.