January 2020: M-Passioned Member Alexis Romero Walker

What do you do?
Currently I am a PhD Student in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. My research centers around media literacy pedagogy in higher education, media arts, and film classrooms. I hope to develop methods of teaching practical skills that are more inclusive to all people, as film is a medium that can have large effects on how marginalized communities are represented and perceived. 

Alexis Romero Walker

Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
I have been working with the Media Education Foundation to update their worksheet on basic media literacy concepts and tools. I have also started thinking more in depth about my dissertation, and how film education has traditionally been taught to feature white skin, and lead male protagonists with a specialized female supporting character. The tools of film (cinematography, lighting, hair and makeup, storytelling methods, etc.) have not been properly developed for a more inclusive set of actors. This needs to change. I am also working with my advisor on an article to discuss how these methods can be perfected in film programs, and they can be dispersed to other media based programs, such as journalism. 

Why is media literacy important to you?
Media literacy is of vital importance to me because fictional media have created a standard of how minority communities should be perceived. Women are represented as fragile and sexual, the Latin(x) community has been represented as dangerous and “illegal”, the black community has been represented as dangerous and prisoners, the LGBTQ community has been represented as flamboyant and overbearing, etc. These stereotypes have been repeated so many times that people often believe that these communities of people are one dimensional in negative ways. I don’t think people realize the effect of fictional media, and I’m excited that conversation has started in hopes of developing more empathetic and true to life stories about diverse communities. 

What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
Its growth. People are finally starting to talk about media literacy in most schools that I’ve attended. People have began to question what media literacy is and to learn more about it. People are double checking their sources and are committed to knowing more information before deciding what they believe. This is a slow process, sure, but it’s happening.

Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I became a member of NAMLE because they are a huge part of the reason that media literacy has become a larger conversation. They got the word out, and I wanted to be a part of it. I have learned from so many of the amazing members of NAMLE and I have created great connections while making dear friends. I have so much access to new research and activism happening through receiving information from NAMLE that has been of use to my personal research and activism. I’ve very grateful for this community I have become a part of! 

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