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- Monday, Aug. 10, 2020
Daniella Carter teams with SpecialGuest on initiative for uplifting underrepresented artists
Daniella Carter, best known for her role in actress Laverne Cox’s Emmy-winning MTV documentary The T Word, has launched “Daniella’s Guestbook” in collaboration with creative agency SpecialGuest. It is anchored by a series of weekly, hour-long Instagram Live interviews between underrepresented artists and industry thought leaders, tastemakers, and influencers. The initiative will also include a curated online collection of video content designed to uplift these diverse voices and create new opportunities for them. National LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD is a promotional partner for the project.
Carter has spoken at local, national, and international events about her experiences as a Black transgender woman, including the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to THRIVE” Conference and two TEDx Talks that highlight the unique struggle of being a young trans person as well as learning to embrace and thrive in your identity. She has contributed to HuffPost and was recently featured in The New York Times to advocate for better inclusion of Black trans voices in the Black Lives Matter movement.
With “Daniella’s Guestbook,” Carter hopes to create an ongoing initiative featuring a wide variety of creative voices. Fittingly, the Instagram series will bring together established and underrepresented talent for conversations designed to tackle diversity issues while consciously uplifting the emerging artist. Interview standouts range from GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis to Jason Rodriguez from FX series Pose and many more. The platform content includes Mila Jam’s music video for her song “Bruised,” featuring actresses Cox and MJ Rodriguez (Pose), as well as award-winning director Luchina Fisher’s horror short film Danger Word with actor Frankie Faison (The Wire).
By bringing exposure to these artists, “Daniella’s Guestbook” seeks to cultivate more opportunities with major brands, production companies, and creative studios for those who may never have gotten them otherwise. Even further, this initiative offers a template for other creative leaders and companies to establish similar avenues for discovering new talent.
“Given my many years of activism on the ground,” Carter explained, “I’ve seen firsthand how unfulfilled governmental promises and a lack of funds impact our lives as Black and Brown people. So when asked what SpecialGuest could do, I knew it was an opportunity to give so many creators what I was given: an opportunity to have their ideas and work seen. This initiative will help highlight these creators’ strong points and display this community’s creative value to major institutions. This way, we can begin to create social awareness, employment opportunities, and relationships in the industry that may not have been necessarily possible before.”
Carter’s collaboration with SpecialGuest began in 2016 when she and founder/ECD Aaron Duffy worked together on the Papel & Caneta “#AskTransFolks” campaign which created a comfortable space for transgender people to answer some of the biggest questions about their lives and identities. Years later, while taking classes at BRIC, Carter was in the process of becoming an independent producer, and Duffy and Carter decided to start collaborating again. They worked together on SpecialGuest projects including Chewy’s “Pets Bring Us Together,” Snapchat’s “Real Friends” campaigns, and recently We’re All In This Together, a film directed by Carter in partnership with GLAAD that premiered in The New York Times.
“This was really Daniella’s idea that she had while we were working on other projects together and we knew we had to try to make it happen,” said Duffy. “It’s been exciting to watch her curation process as she’s considered a wide range of submissions. I hadn’t seen any of these works or known the creators, and I think that’s reflective of the industry at large. I hope that others can have the same experience I had diving into these, one of them literally having me in tears.”
“To spearhead an initiative like 'Daniella’s Guestbook' is both revolutionary and an honor,” said Carter. “I get to start the conversation of intersectionality amongst people of color. People of color come with various adjectives and superlatives to describe ourselves. As a content creator, my goal is to create content that helps to further conversations about different socio cultural issues and addresses those adjectives and superlatives. I use this initiative to curate discussions and works from all types of creators of color touching on all socio-cultural issues. I want to show all the shades and nuances that come from being a Black person in all mediums. From the beautiful short films to the rawness of spoken word, there is so much to learn, understand, and appreciate about the Black experience.”