Sections Development

Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories

Define American is a culture change organization that uses the power of narrative to humanize conversations about immigrants.

In 2021, Define American launched ‘Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories,’ a reference guide for the entertainment industries.

"Hollywood has a unique opportunity, a unique power, and a unique responsibility to meet the moment and make meaningful cultural change by authentically and accurately telling the disparate stories of our country."
Jose Antonio Vargas
Founder, Define American
Define American logo

About the Guide

In a constantly shifting U.S. immigration landscape, ‘Telling Authentic Immigrant Stories: A Reference Guide for The Entertainment Industry’ is the latest edition of our comprehensive resource tool for writers, filmmakers, creators and entertainment professionals who want to tell stories that are both accurate and humanizing about immigrants. It includes best practices, detailed descriptions, multimedia examples, definitions, historical timelines, data and resources about specific underrepresented communities, as well as insight into evolving topics such as DACA and climate displacement.


Get the Guide

The new guide centers six key things for those creating and/or greenlighting new content to consider. First among them is hiring more immigrants in the writers’ room and on the crew and casting them too so their perspectives can be heard and considered for the storytelling. Additionally, the guide suggests engaging with immigrant communities to get an even wider and deeper range of perspectives, seeking expert opinions, focusing stories on universal themes, being sensitive to risk and privacy and empowering immigrant characters to control their own narratives (rather than telling tales of white saviorism, for example).

Read More
6 people speaking on a panel in front of a Define American logo screen
We are making great strides forward with more diverse and equitable hiring in front of and behind the camera, more inclusive stories, more immigrant writers, but we still have much work to do. We encourage content creators at every level to use this guide as a starting point in that journey.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Founder, Define American

The new guide also points out that not all immigrants are Latine, incorporating data and key findings from the organization’s 2020 television impact study, titled “Change the Narrative, Change the World” and published with USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center, to support this point. Through new partnerships with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and The UndocuBlack Network, the guide puts a spotlight on AAPI and Black immigrants, noting they are still grossly underrepresented on TV at the moment. AAPI immigrants, for example, comprise 12% of immigrants on TV even though the study shows they represent 26% of the U.S. immigrant population.


Visit Site

More resources for Development

Stay up to date