WASHINGTON, DC, February 20 – Today, Define American was named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019. The list honors the businesses making the most profound impact on industry and culture, showcasing a variety of ways to thrive in today’s volatile world. The list ranked Define American number 10 in the Film and Television category.
“Define American was founded on the bold idea that changing entire media narratives was not only possible but necessary,” said Rev. Ryan Eller, Executive Director of Define American. “This recognition is a humbling acknowledgment that we’re shifting the way agents for social change go about their work and winning a more just and inclusive America in the process.”
Define American has long implemented innovative pop culture strategies to change how our country talks about new Americans. By engaging in collaborations with writers, directors, producers, and other entertainment industry professionals to elevate the portrayal of storylines around race, immigration and citizenship, Define American takes on the hard work of shifting people’s perceptions of immigrants.
“In this current cultural moment, bridges between people of different backgrounds and cultures are far more likely to be torn down than constructed. We believe that powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change,” said Rev. Eller.
“Being recognized in the Film and Television category of Fast Company’s Most Innovative list is not only a dream realized for our team, but also an acknowledgment of our commitment to employing entertainment strategies in America’s culture war over immigration,” said Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees, Managing Director, Creative Initiatives at Define American. “Our innovative collaborations with entertainment professionals show how Hollywood has more power than it often acknowledges and can be a force for change when it recognizes the responsibility that comes with that kind of influence.”
Since its founding in 2011, Define American has implemented innovative popular culture strategies to change how the country talks about new Americans:
- When ICE detained She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the well-known Atlanta-based recording artist and songwriter also known as “21 Savage,” Define American joined a coalition of 60 celebrities and top human rights organizations, communications and legal teams to fight for the release of Mr. Abraham-Joseph. Over the course of the campaign, Define American worked to connect the scourges of mass incarceration with immigrant detention and made sure that the media understood the plights faced by black immigrants in America.
- By engaging in collaborations with writers, directors, producers, and other entertainment industry professionals, Define American seeks to elevate the portrayal of immigrant characters and advance empathetic storylines around race, immigration and citizenship.
- For several years Define American has partnered with The Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California on a study to examine the representation of immigrant characters in shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Superstore, Roswell, and dozens more. This pioneering report helped to highlight how the warped perception of immigrants in entertainment media is having real-world effects on new Americans.
“From the days of being solely a storytelling platform to now having the largest chapters program and Hollywood portfolio of its kind, we are taking best practices from the corporate and government sectors and integrating them into an intentionally diverse, innovative and values-driven nonprofit,” said Rev. Eller.
For this year’s list, Fast Company’s editors and writers sought out groundbreaking businesses across 35 industries and every region. They also judged nominations received through their application process. The World’s Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year.