Sat July 24, 2021 11:00 AM

Black Identity Through Television


Virtual | Live panel with Stephanie Allain, Steven Canals, Cierra Glaude, Little Marvin, and Patrik-Ian Polk.  Moderated by Gil Robertson, President of the AAFCA.



The American Cinematheque and the African American Film Critics Association are proud to present the second edition of our “Black Identity Through Media” virtual panel series, which includes Stephanie Allain, Steven Canals, Cierra Glaude, Little Marvin, and Patrik-Ian Polk in a discussion examining the diversity within Black identity through their distinguished careers in television. 

Moderator Gil Robertson, President of the AAFCA, continues the discussion from the first edition, turning the focus away from film and towards television. The 90-minute panel will examine the panelists’ work in TV in relation to core themes, such as racism, freedom and justice, and explore how their handling of these shared themes differ and reflect their own personal identities. Join us as we celebrate the diversity of Black perspectives, whether it’s through the U.S., the Black immigrant experience, or around the world, and explore the medium’s power to unearth our core humanity.   


In preparation for the panel, we encourage you to seek out and watch the following series:

P-VALLEY (Starz)
THEM (Amazon Prime)


Stephanie Allain championed John Singleton’s directorial debut, BOYZ N THE HOOD, which earned $65 million and two Oscar nominations. She stayed at Columbia Pictures for a decade, supervising seminal independently spirited films before founding Homegrown Pictures and produced HUSTLE & FLOW, SOMETHING NEW, BEYOND THE LIGHTS, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE and more. 

The only African American woman to produce the Academy Awards for which she was Emmy nominated, her TV credits include DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, MAKE IT WORK and ZOOM WHERE IT HAPPENS.  

She served five years as Director of the LA Film Festival and is a member of AMPAS and WGA. She sits on the board of American Cinematheque and the PGA. A recipient of the 2020 PGA/UCLA Vision Award, she has taught at UCLA, USC and is a frequent panelist and commentator. 


Steven Canals is the Emmy®-nominated and Peabody Award-winning co-creator, executive producer, director and writer of FX’s groundbreaking drama series, POSE.  

Recently featured on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter’s Pride Issue, Canals was named to their list of 2020’s “50 Most Powerful LGBTQ Players in Hollywood.” Since its breakthrough premiere, POSE has received an AFI Award for TV Program of the Year (2018 & 2019), as well as Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Critics Choice Award nominations for Best Drama Series, among many other accolades. Canals also received a nomination from the Writers Guild Awards for Outstanding New Series.  

Canals is a queer, Afro-Puerto Rican creator, who grew up in NYC and whose work aims to center communities that have been under-represented onscreen. In 2020, Canals signed an exclusive overall deal with 20th Century TV, where he will continue to develop projects that highlight voices and stories from historically marginalized communities. 


Reigning from Mobile, Alabama, Cierra Glaude is a southern belle whose heart & hustle have taken her across the country and back working on crews of features & TV shows including SEMLA, GIRLS TRIP, A WRINKLE IN TIME, and QUEEN SUGAR. 

Like the black women writers, directors, and show runners she has been blessed to work with, Cierra aims to build cinematic worlds where people of color, women, and the queer community can see themselves represented without due cause. 

To keep up with her latest adventures as she navigates the film industry, follow her on IG @sh00ter_.


Little Marvin is the creator, writer, showrunner, and executive producer of Amazon Studios’ hit original anthology series THEM, which, out of the gate, received a two-season order from the streamer. Moreover, his production company, Odd Man Out, signed an overall deal with Amazon Studios to create and produce original series and films to premiere exclusively on Prime Video in over 200 countries and territories. The series debuted in April 2021 as the #1 show on Amazon Prime Video and #2 overall streaming show for its debut week, according to Nielsen’s weekly list. Additionally, THEM was the most viewed program (from a minutes perspective) among the SVOD Top 10 in African American homes, with nearly 60% of its overall viewing being driven by Black households in the first week.   

 During Little Marvin’s successful career as a marketing executive and creative director, he quietly nurtured his true love: writing. His script for THEM quickly drew the attention of Hollywood and solidified his position as one of the most in-demand creative voices.   


Known as the “Father of Black Gay Cinema”, Patrik-Ian Polk is an award-winning writer-director-producer. A Mississippi native, Polk attended film school at the prestigious University of Southern California before going on to produce over two decades of groundbreaking work exploring the African-American gay experience. His credits include PUNKS, the first Black gay feature film, and NOAH’S ARC, the first Black gay TV series. Other film credits include NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM, THE SKINNY and BLACKBIRD. Recent TV credits include a stint as Co-Executive Producer and writer of the BEING MARY JANE two-hour series finale, and he is currently Co-Exec Producing and writing the critically acclaimed P-VALLEY and THE CHI. Polk is the winner of two GLAAD Awards and has been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards & six NAACP Image Awards. He splits his time between Los Angeles and Atlanta.