Julie Ann Cromett is a phenomenal leader in the DEI space with a unique approach to creating inclusive, authentic workspaces. Recently, Julie Ann joined team Cooleaf for a webinar about fostering an inclusive culture through storytelling. During the hour-long conversation, audience members gleaned compelling takeaways and new ideas for bringing storytelling into their own lives and organizations.
Watch the recorded webinar!
Julie Ann is founder and CEO of Collective Moxie, a creative agency dedicated to building equitable brands. Formerly, in her role as Vice President of Multicultural Audience Engagement at the Walt Disney Studios, Julie Ann contributed to films like Encanto and Black Panther. Her one-of-a-kind approach to DEI centers creativity and the power of narrative to achieve a shared sense of belonging.
While storytelling may sound new to many of us, Julie Ann believes that because we are all storytellers (whether we know it or not), sharing stories is one of the most natural ways to foster inclusivity. During the conversation, she offered these key takeaways:
- Invite everyone to the table because everyone has a story to tell
- Always consider single narratives; debunking them together is how we move forward
- The responsibility in storytelling is to consider the story being told and who is present to tell it
- Find small opportunities to make a difference and start there
Webinar Clip: Making the Movie 'Prey' - A Lesson on the Power of Inclusivity
Webinar Clip: Creating a Mechanism for Inclusive Storytelling
One of the key examples Julie Ann shared hit close to home with most of the audience. Her work on the fan favorite, record-breaking movie, Prey, Hulu's biggest premier ever, was rooted entirely in the tenets of DEI.
From the very beginning, the team knew that because of the film's Comanche origin story, they needed to center the Comanche language. "When you know that language is culture and culture is language, you know that to keep the culture alive you have to keep the language alive." With that sentiment in mind, the decision was made to offer two complete versions of the movie, one in English and one in Comanche, both with equal budget and promotion.
This is the kind of work that shatters stereotypes and creates inclusion, says Julie Ann. It's not about the biggest budget (Prey's budget was 65 million, compared to 130 million for Prometheus and 237 million for Avatar) or the flashiest marketing, its about commitment to authenticity and taking care to do the research.
Webinar Clip: The Importance of Inclusive Storytelling
In a closing moment during Q&A, one member of the audience asked: "I am currently an HR rep for my company. We are a diverse company but lack a DEI path and DEI initiatives. I would like to propel these conversations at my organization. How do I break that seal and introduce DEI, without getting pushback? How can I manage pushback within my organization if there is any? What are my next steps in order to be successful in a career in DEI? How can I enter this space?"
Julie Ann took a moment, then replied. "It's not easy if there hasn't been a start. Start with one area, do not try to do everything at once–I can't say this enough. Start with a pilot or a focus and then find those accomplices that will go on that journey with you. If you're not senior leadership, I recommend finding your colleagues who are at the same level and say 'Hey, this is what im thinking about–are you interested?' Then look for the senior leader who can be a champion for this work. Plan and do some thinking first. But you just have to get started. Don't let the enormity of it overwhelm you and don't go it alone."
To learn more about Julie Ann Crommett and Collective Moxie, visit https://www.collectivemoxie.com/
To learn more about how Cooleaf can power your DEI strategy (and exclusive programming), chat with our team!