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Maryann Erigha, an associate professor at the University of Georgia from Stone Mountain, Georgia, speaks to a mostly full room about black women in Hollywood on Friday, November 20, 2018 at the Zell B. Miller Learning Center in Athens, Georgia. Erigha’s talk is part of the women’s studies speaker series. (Photo/Miranda Daniel, mirandadanielphoto@gmail.com)

Students and professors filed into a University of Georgia classroom to engage in a lecture given by Maryann Erigha, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute for African-American Studies, about black women in Hollywood on Nov. 30.

The Institute for Women’s Studies puts on a Friday Speaker Series eight times a semester, with this one being the last one.

The Friday speaker series have occurred since the 80s and are presented by core faculty, assistant faculty, graduate students and community members, said Terri Hatfield, program coordinator for the Institute for Women’s Studies.

Hatfield said the speaker lectures on their research and what they’ve worked on in the past or present, related to gender and women studies issues, relating to race, class, gender and sexuality.

“The purpose of the series is to highlight the feminist research that’s being done on this campus and on the community,” Hatfield said. “It’s a great way for students to hear about this research that’s happening across campus and under disciplines that may not be their major.”

The event is free and open to the public, and it received about 50 attendees on Nov. 30.

“We’ve been presenting and showing feminist work on campus for over 30 years, which I think is an important thing that we’ve been able to provide on the campus,” Hatfield said.

Erigha’s lecture, titled “Breaking in and Having It All: Black Women and the Hollywood Jim Crow”, started with the question of “what is the character of black women’s representation in the motion picture industry in the 21st century?”

The topic of how black women in Hollywood are often labeled as un bankable and how black women are represented in decision makers’ point of view was a talking point for Erigha.

She also discussed the history and experiences of black directors and how black women are now breaking into the field, such as with the director of “A Wrinkle in Time,” Ava DuVernay.

A question and answer session, involving questions from the audience about topics, such as equal pay and diversity of actors, allowed for the audience to hear more about Erigha’s research and thoughts.

The audience was engaged throughout the lecture, and some attendees took notes. Others were excited to see how a topic they learned about in class played out in research.

“We’ve already kind of talked about this in my women’s studies class. I’m just really interested to see. I already know there is a lack of representation for them anyway, but I’m interested to see what she’s going to bring to the table, in terms of research,” said Tiffany Mukundi, freshman pre-medical student from Douglasville.

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