Guests: Diana Son, Television Showrunner of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and American Crime; Rachel Lloyd, Founder and President of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services; Author
We begin the second half of the season exploring both the inner workings of the entertainment industry and the external forces needed to create long-term shifts through pop culture storytelling. In this episode, television writer and producer Diana Son joins anti-child trafficking advocate and bestselling author Rachel Lloyd to reveal the process of creating a social justice-infused pop story world. From sharing how pop culture has influenced each of their personal storytelling approaches, to taking us inside the writers room for the making of a television series, to discussing the personal and societal stakes we all have in television characters, Son and Lloyd show us what is possible when social justice advocates and pop storytellers can more deeply work and imagine together.
LISTEN TO THE NEXT EPISODE: Tropes and Traps in Pop Culture
Racial justice/sci-fi expert Nayantara Sen and TV critic Sean T. Collins reveal the narrative tropes and traps that prevent TV and film from being truly transformational, and help us imagine what stories are possible.
In 1998, at just 23 years old, Rachel Lloyd founded Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) at her kitchen table with $30 and a borrowed computer. She was driven by the lack of services for commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women and the incredible stigma and punishment they faced from service providers, law enforcement, the courts, their families and society.
Nineteen years later, her indelible impact on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking has helped shift the perception of trafficked girls from criminals to victims and now to survivors and leaders. GEMS is now the largest service provider of its kind in the nation providing intensive services and support to over 450 girls and young women, preventive outreach and education to 1,500 youth, and training over 1,300 professionals each year.
Rachel is well-known for her tireless dedication to ‘her girls’ and has impacted thousands of individual lives through her love and commitment, but she is also passionate about changing public perception and policy. Her courageous advocacy ensured the passage of New York State’s Safe Harbour for Sexually Exploited Children Act, which in 2008 became the first law in the nation to protect and not punish trafficked and exploited youth. Since then 13 other states have followed suit.
She co-produced the ground-breaking Showtime documentary Very Young Girls, which has been seen by over 4 million people and created a national dialogue on the issue. Rachel is also the author of the critically acclaimed Girls Like Us, and has used her unique voice to advocate for survivors at the White House, the United Nations, and before Congress.
Nationally recognized for her innovative work in transforming the movement’s understanding of survivor leadership, she continues to pave the way for survivor leaders across the country. She was honored as one of the “50 Women Who Change the World” by Ms. Magazine and recognized with a Reebok Human Rights Award. She was also a recipient of a 2009 Ashoka Fellowship, the Frederick Douglass Award from the North Star Fund, and the Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization for Women, among many other accolades. @gemsgirls
Diana is Executive Producer of the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why. She has been Emmy-nominated twice as Co-Executive Producer of the ABC series American Crime. She has also been a writer/producer for a number of series including Southland, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Do No Harm and started her television career as a staff writer for The West Wing. Diana has also written a number of pilots for CBS, NBC and A&E as well as a television movie for Showtime and feature films for Fine Line and Brave New World Films.
Diana is also the author of the plays Stop Kiss, Satellites, BOY, R.A.W. (‘Cause I’m a Woman) and others. Stop Kiss and Satellites premiered at the Public Theater in NYC. Stop Kiss was extended at the Public Theater three times making it the longest running show since A Chorus Line. It won the GLAAD Media Award for Best New York Production and Diana won the John Gassner Playwriting Prize and the Berilla Kerr Award for playwriting. Stop Kiss has been produced at hundreds of theatres nationally and abroad and been translated into a number of different languages including Hungarian, Japanese, and Korean. Amongst the theatres Diana’s plays have been produced at are: La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Delaware Theatre Company, BRAVA, New Georges, and many others.
Diana has been the recipient of an NEA/TCG residency grant at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and a Brooks Atkinson Fellowship at the National Theatre in London. She has taught playwriting at NYU’s Department of Dramatic Writing and the Yale School of Drama and has been the Program Chair of the Dramatists Guild Playwrighting Fellowship program. @dianason