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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas’ nonprofit organization Define American has tapped Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees to serve as the org’s first-ever entertainment media director.
In the new role, Voorhees will be charged with growing existing initiatives — such as the Define American Film Festival — and pursuing collaborations with writers, directors, producers and other industry professionals to elevate the portrayal of storylines around race, immigration and citizenship. She’ll also lead efforts to build a pipeline between Define American and content creators looking for compelling stories about the modern day immigrant experience.
Voorhees joins Define American with more than 10 years experience in showrunning and executive producing, having overseen projects for networks such as VH1, OWN, Lifetime and Syfy. She holds a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship from Pepperdine University.
“I am delighted to join Jose and Define American, an incredible organization that is on the forefront of the U.S. immigration conversation during such a pivotal time for our country,” Voorhees said in a statement. “I am confident that together we can leverage the power of media and entertainment to create a new rhetoric and cultural relevancy around this crucial topic.”
Added Vargas: “The media is at the heart of how we understand ourselves. As a young immigrant making sense of my new adopted country, most everything I first learned about America I learned from the movies and television shows I watched, and from the plays I read in middle school and high school. So many immigrant stories at the heart of our changing country need to be told, and we are thrilled to have Elizabeth on board to strengthen our relationships with Hollywood’s creative influencers.”
Vargas launched the organization in June 2011 when he “came out” as undocumented in a first-person essay for New York Times Magazine titled “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” More information about the cause can be found here.
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