In her career as a filmmaker, Jayda Imanlihen saw a problem that has been increasingly reported in the media in recent years: the striking lack of access for Black women in the film industry. Paving the way for other women with over ten years of experience designing online graduate programs for elite universities across the country, Imanlihen founded Black Girl Film School, a foundation offering courses that allow women to see the work of Black women filmmakers and learn the basics of filmmaking techniques and the workings of the industry.
Imanlihen recognizes that the issue does not simply lie in a lack of willingness to hire Black women professionals, but a larger pipeline issue preventing their participation in the first place. As a first-generation college graduate, she has experienced many barriers to access herself and is using that experience to break those barriers for the next generation of Black women. The program has already seen results; one of Imanlihen’s students from Black Girl Film School’s first cohort in 2020 was offered admission to Stanford University’s MFA film program in Documentary, having never taken a formal film class before Black Girl Film School.
“I decided to start BGFS in 2016 because I noticed a lack of representation in the online higher ed community where I directed multimedia strategies for online graduate programs,” said Imanlihen. “I knew that the online learning space was ripe for storytelling and a way to reimagine film school without all the cost and barriers of access.”
Black Girl Film School is breaking barriers in more ways than one, harnessing the power of technology to revolutionize the field of film education. The program has had participants from as far as Lagos, Nigeria, and hopes to expand further to create more global access to film education in the future.
More information on Black Girl Film School and its courses can be found on the Black Girl Film School website.