Project Title

Women Writers of Film & Television Project: Sara Finney-Johnson

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - English

Faculty Sponsor Name

Anna Weinstein

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Though the representation of minority groups in film and television improves more each year, it was a rarity just a few decades ago. It was even rarer for people of these groups to be present in writer's rooms. As barriers began to break down for women screenwriters of color in the late 1900s, Sara Finney-Johnson stepped into the television industry and left a mark. From being a writer's assistant on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975-1985) to co-creating and producing the UPN sitcoms Moesha (1996-2011) and The Parkers (1999-2004), Johnson helped to better the issue of representation of Black people on television.

Moesha, co-created with Vida Spears, was an impactful show for the Black community as it was one of the first to portray the life and perspective of a Black teenage girl. Johnson and Spears went on to co-create with Ralph Farquhar the UPN sitcom The Parkers (1999-2004). In addition to providing further representation for the Black community, this television show was one of the first to feature two plus-sized Black women leads.

With this research, I will argue how the work of Sara Finney-Johnson contributed to the positive representation of Black people on television and helped to open the arena for other women of color in the film and television industry.

Disciplines

Screenwriting

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, synchronously via Teams

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Women Writers of Film & Television Project: Sara Finney-Johnson

Though the representation of minority groups in film and television improves more each year, it was a rarity just a few decades ago. It was even rarer for people of these groups to be present in writer's rooms. As barriers began to break down for women screenwriters of color in the late 1900s, Sara Finney-Johnson stepped into the television industry and left a mark. From being a writer's assistant on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975-1985) to co-creating and producing the UPN sitcoms Moesha (1996-2011) and The Parkers (1999-2004), Johnson helped to better the issue of representation of Black people on television.

Moesha, co-created with Vida Spears, was an impactful show for the Black community as it was one of the first to portray the life and perspective of a Black teenage girl. Johnson and Spears went on to co-create with Ralph Farquhar the UPN sitcom The Parkers (1999-2004). In addition to providing further representation for the Black community, this television show was one of the first to feature two plus-sized Black women leads.

With this research, I will argue how the work of Sara Finney-Johnson contributed to the positive representation of Black people on television and helped to open the arena for other women of color in the film and television industry.

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