Jenna Oliver  |  Breakout Session

This breakout session, entitled "Ain't I a Woman? Gender, Ethnicity, 'Type' and Color Flexibility Casting" will take an interactive, humorous, yet frank look at the issues that face female actors of color. The goal is to create a positive dialogue about strategies that impact positive change in the industry. With the success of Hamilton and the failure of Hollywood and the 2015 Oscars to nominate people of color - this juxtaposed with Audra McDonald's numerous nominations and awards on the the stage, this discussion is current and relevant. Jenna Oliver joins Lisa Young for this discussion to explore historical precedents, current trends and what has yet to be done. This session aims to educate ourselves about what works and what doesn't and to leave with tangible techniques to move forward and truly make progress in the field. 

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About Jenna

Jenna Oliver graduated from The New School University with a master’s degree in Media Studies. She has diverse experience in media production, public relations and education. While at The New School, Jenna worked with global activists to utilize media as a means to impact social change. She joined a think tank of beat poets, street poets, politicians, actors and activists to change the narrative of fear in Africa and abroad. 

As an undergraduate Jenna studied activist poetry and African literature and was mentored by the late Dennis Brutus, the acclaimed South African poet, activist and cell-mate of Nelson Mandela. This experience impacted her at a very deep level because she learned the power of words to impact true change and it encouraged her to use the authenticity of story to be the voice of those who had no voice. 

Oliver has worked and studied with premiere faculty from all over the world in various capacities.  In her tenure as a professor of digital media production, Oliver discovered that each student has a unique voice and story to tell and she has helped them realize this in real ways. Oliver has optioned several scripts and worked with TirNanog Productions, The Ghana Education Project, The Art Institutes, The Colorado Film School and The New School University on numerous productions. She has a unique eye for talent and has mentored several nationally and internationally recognized producers, screenwriters and editors. Currently, Jenna has returned to education as the News and Media Relations Director at Regis University. 

Jenna continues to lecture and given workshops on story’s unique power to help us find our purpose and how visual media helps us to realize that vision. She enjoys collaborating with other storytellers to help their voices resonate. She is a poet, accomplished academic and life-long student of communication. Most recently, she has enjoyed learning the power of social media as a tool of social change and being a stage mother to her 12 year-old son, who is a professional actor.