Downtown Browns is an interactive web series produced by a diverse female crew. Each episode follows women of color navigating daily life to build understandings of challenges in diverse city life. 

 

Time for activism

The issues of racism, islamophobia, immigration, discrimination, and self-determination are more than ever relevant today. More and more artists and directors express activism through their work. An example of such is a team of radical female filmmakers. Tonia Beglari (co-founder of Browntourage), Jazmin Garcia, Emilia Yang, Allison Comrie, and Luciana Chamorro crewed to write, direct and produce an interactive web series Downtown Browns. Their main goal was to infrom about lives of women of color. “A lot of people are waking up and trying to understand, but they’re not digging into the details of how discrimination works or how racism can be structural. That’s what we’re striving to do—show the system,” tells Emilia Yang.
Downtown Browns Interactive SeriesDowntown Browns Interactive Series

Each episode highlights daily living and obstacles faced by women of color in Los Angeles. In the first episode, a high school student`s parents are at risk of being departed. In the second episode, Fati, a Middle Eastern nursing student, should take a soup for her food-poisoned sister, encountering biases around her headscarf.  In the third episode Yetunde, a digital tech lead, has to prepare a presentation of a new app and respond to racist comments from her colleagues. Also the series is not based on bare prejudices, but on serious research, as Tonia Beglari says: “A lot of the issues that we show in our series are things that wouldn’t necessarily be in the news, like microaggressions. Those stories often only get shared between friends, and it’s easy for people who aren’t in your circle to act like those things aren’t happening.”

 

Put yourself in other`s shoes

The storytelling technique is also intriguing and captures the viewer from the first frame. The viewer can engage with the narrative by by making decisions for the protagonists, or listen to other viewpoints. This allows the audience to see how prejudice affects such delicate situations as those faced by the heroines. “We specifically chose interaction mechanics that kind of seed the theme of that episode. And interactive video is so rarely done that I felt like maybe we would be able to reach audiences who are into interactivity but may never click on a video about a Latina high schooler,” – Beglari sets it out. “We’re very cautious about saying that interactivity equals empathy,” Yang explains. “We hope that this series will help people imagine how people of color live their lives.”

Downtown Browns Interactive Series
Besides web series created to build understandings of challenges in diverse city life, Downtown Browns is open to any diverse perspective. “We’ve seen a lot of efforts [at the University of Southern California], both in production and games, to try to diversify entertainment, but sometimes I feel that it’s just on the representation side and not behind the camera, on the creative side. And that was why it was really important for us to build a woman-led crew,” Yang says.

Downtown Browns Interactive SeriesDowntown Browns Interactive Series

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