“Right now we’re in a pivotal moment in media. We’re seeing stories in mainstream platforms that are really putting communities of color and queer folks up in front of storylines, whereas traditionally it’s been hard for us to get into the roles of the main character, or as a writer or a producer.”
The Woke Platform
That’s Vicente Garcia speaking in a five minute video interview about his company. He’s the co-founder of Woke, a brand new digital media enterprise that gives underrepresented communities a platform to tell stories about their authentic lives. In the coming years they will launch a subscription service similar to Netflix or Hulu, but with a library of content exclusively featuring work produced, created by, and starring the people and communities who aren’t getting enough of spotlight in our current media landscape.
In the meantime, Woke is due to soft launch this August with some sneak peeks of what is to come, and Vicente and Woke co-founder Francois L are very clear in why they feel there is such an urgent need for their idea.
“We really want to create a platform that can grow large enough to disrupt the way traditional media and entertainment operates,” Vicente says. “We want to amplify the voices of people coming from multiple different backgrounds.” Because, you see, diversity is complex. And the stories that are shared with the world need to reach a larger audience that reflects this complexity.
Woke is creating a platform where people can witness intricacies of identity instead of through the lens of a singular type of diversity. “We’re really talking about the multitudes of identities that we live every day,” Vicente says. “We want to get their stories out there.”
“Woke intends on featuring media that dispels the single story narrative,” says Francois. “Our content is going to be unapologetic about the trials, tribulations, and the joys that our communities experience.”
Woke believes that stories from underrepresented backgrounds are the future of media. Stories featuring women, people of color, queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks, immigrants, people with disabilities, nerds, free-thinkers, disruptors, and dreamers — anybody outside the status quo.
Woke sees this as a large gap within the entertainment industry currently. Their platform will be a place where diversity and inclusion is the norm, while at the same time universally appealing to all audiences regardless of who they are.
Giving Millennials What They Want
Woke’s target audience is millennials, young adults aged 18 to 35. Why? Because millennials are driving internet traffic and culture shifts. They’re familiar with large streaming companies like Netflix and YouTube, and they’re also on board with new media publishers like Blavity and Remezcla because they prioritize storytelling that’s rooted in diversity and inclusion. They want — and expect! — to see narratives that don’t shy away from viewpoints with intersectionality.
Furthermore, millennials are the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history, with about 43% identifying as non-white; and 20% identify as LGBT, according to a recent study by GLADD. What this means is that the same old homogenous storylines aren’t cutting it anymore. People want to see themselves reflected in the media they consume.
As Woke rolls out its cutting edge, timely content, Vicente and Francois expect that it will become the go-to source for current trends in pop culture, art, music, and entertainment. Woke will showcase stories with protagonists where oppression and struggle isn’t the only backdrop of their experience; and they will feature complex characters who are gritty and resourceful.
Complexity: A Launch Party and Community Discussion
To get the conversation started, Woke is throwing a launch partywith a conversation on diversity and inclusion in media in tech on Wednesday, August 2 at the Kapor Center for Social Impactin Oakland. Attendees of the event will get a sneak peek at the new site and get the inside scoop of what’s to come.
The event is sure to be a blast, with plenty of food and drinks, a relaxed and welcoming vibe, demo station, networking opportunities, a DJ, and a chance to be part of a new media revolution celebrating and embracing the individual and collective complexities that make us all unique and beautiful.
The main feature of the event will be a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion, focusing on the intersection of media and tech — two industries that impact us daily. True to Woke’s mission, the panelists all come with a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives too complex to try to summarize in one space. Featured on the panel are:
- Rachel Williams: Head of Corporate Recruiting, Diversity and Inclusion at Yelp
- Tariq Meyers: Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Lyft
- Joshua Encarnacion: People Development Manager at Outco
- Fatima Asghar: Nationally touring poet, screenwriter, educator, and performer
- Raquel Willis: National Organizer at the Transgender Law Center
The Stories We Tell Have An Impact
As a storyteller and advocate for diversity and inclusion, Woke is really inspiring to me. When I watch Woke’s co-founder Vicente Garcia talk about wanting to change the way stories are told, I find myself totally in sync with his perspective.
“Stories are actually how we understand the world and who we are,” Vicente says. “It’s how we understand each other, and how we’re capable of change. Usually we’re able to grow and learn something new when we have an internal story about our situation that allows us to shift and pivot into something new. Stories are very powerful.”
Indeed they are. And the intentional approach that Woke is taking to provide a platform for people from underrepresented groups to tell their stories is a very much needed perspective in the media world.
“What drives me is that I want to be able to change the media for good,” Vicente says. “I want to change the way stories are told.”
So the question is, will you be part of that change? See you at the event on August 2.