Diversity is the permanent wave when it comes to what people want to see in movies and films. Twitter users of color are now sharing stories about the first time they saw themselves represented in the media with the hashtag #FirstTimeISawMe, and it's revealing a lot about the current entertainment industry. The tweets are the perfect social media '90s party, since you get to see images of old favorites like Susie from Rugrats and little Olivia from The Cosby Show, but it's also a teachable moment about what it has been like to watch TV as a person of color.
Netflix partnered with the Black Girl Nerds platform and iOne Digital's Cassius publication to create the #FirstTimeISawMe campaign. The purpose of the online chat is to get people to share their stories of how they have or haven't been represented in various media forms like films, shows, comics, and magazines.
Black Girl Nerds contributors helped jumpstart the Twitter convo by sharing their personal stories about the black female representation they have enjoyed finding in Netflix shows.
Contributors from iOne Digital's new Cassius platform also shared their thoughts on past and present representations of people of color.
Twitter was quick to add more reflective stories with the #FirstTimeISawMe hashtag.
Sigh. The nostalgia is ultra real right now, word to Frank Ocean. This Twitter conversation provides so many walks down memory lane, but also shows that people enjoy representation that is not just about skin color.
Black people, Asians, Hispanics, and other people of color also identify with things like being a tomboy, a nerd, a plus-size person, a dark-skinned person, etc... Those additional identities prove that diversity is about capturing and affirming people who have all of these varying realities.
The #FirstTimeISawMe Hashtag also proves Hollywood still has more diversity work to do.
Some Twitter users pointed out characters who just hit television screens in recent years, like Jamal from FOX's Empire, played by Jussie Smollett. This means there are people of color who literally didn't seem themselves represented in shows and movies until they were adults.
Then there are people like the woman who tweeted about not seeing much representation of black women who use wheelchairs and the woman who has not seen herself represented at all, but settles for the Moana character as the "closest" she's gotten.
While Hollywood has been working to create more diversity in front of and behind the camera, there are still so many untold stories and unwritten characters.
Luckily, conversations like the #FirstTimeISawMe hashtag can highlight both the progress and the missed opportunities so that diversity in media can continue to progress.