The Artdog Quotes of the Week

Who gets represented? In my opinion, that’s one of the most important questions any writer, visual artist, actor, or other creative individual can ask.

So who gets represented in your creative work?

Who wins the final battles? Which character earns their true love’s heart in the end? And how does that true love look? Who plays the villain’s role? Which characters die horribly and get cast into the outer darkness?

The stories we tell and the pictures we create matter. Because who gets represented is a vital question for all of us.

The quote from Amandla Stenberg reads, "Projects that feature black actors and are created by black people are so important because what we see in the media dictates how we think about the world. Representation is so important for black kids growing up."
Amandla Stenberg quote-image courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Art is essential to our understanding 

There’s an essential reason why art matters, in whatever of its many forms and media. It matters because the stories and the visuals that surround us help us define ourselves and our world

I have blogged before about art creating bridges of understanding between cultures, but it’s broader and deeper and far, far more important than simply reaching out between cultures, important as that is.

This quote from Sonia Manzano reads, "When I was a kid I didn't see any Latinas on television--not just television but in magazines, in books, in anything . . . There were no Latin people who existed in the world that I grew up in, and I wondered how I was going to contribute to a society that didn't see me. I was invisible."
Sonia Manzano quote-image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Representation is important

Representation helps people answer the question, “where do I fit in?” This is especially important for children. They understand the world in the way they see it explained to them, both verbally and visually. They respond to the representations they see.

But it really is a question for all of us throughout our lives. Just look at the assorted reactions to the recent “OK Boomer” fad. If people hadn’t cared how they were being represented, would they have reacted the same way?

Representation represents power

Now we’re getting to the base-level reason why representation is important. Why the question “Who gets represented?” is so urgent. Representation signals and is an outcome of power

The power dynamics of representation are too big and important a topic to address in the final paragraphs of this blog post, so look for more on this topic in blog posts to come!


Many thanks to The Huffington Post, which published two features that provided all of these posts. They are “18 Times Black Actors Nailed Why We Need Representation in Film,” and its sidebar slide show (scroll to the bottom), “16 Times Latinos Were Brutally Honest about Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity.” 

I also thank Green Biz for the background image of my “Representation Matters” header.