Joshua Tyler will attend the American Film Institute in Los Angeles in the fall in an effort to diversify the media through producing films and other media.
“One of my main goals as a film producer is to focus on developing and showcasing stories that reflect commonly underrepresented groups within our community,” he said. “I feel that this visibility is not only important to these communities but to the larger community as a whole.”
Tyler is part of both the black and LGBTQIA+ communities, two underrepresented communities that he said the media do not convey accurately, which is something he would like to change.
“I did not see stories that conveyed the experience of being a part of both these communities growing up in mainstream media. Stories would either focus on one or the other,” Tyler said.
“Telling stories that convey overlap within communities not only helps increase diversity and inclusion but also reflects and ignites the important conversations we are beginning to have today.”
Tyler currently is working at The St. Louis American in video production as part of his effort to tell stories about underrepresented communities and correct the inaccuracies in media. He is a previous recipient of the Donald M. Suggs Scholarship at Webster University, facilitated by the St. Louis American Foundation.
The scholarship is awarded to enhance retention of academically talented students of ethnic backgrounds that are typically underrepresented in higher education. When Tyler was awarded the $100,000 scholarship in 2014 to put towards his college education, he did not know it would open many doors to promote advocacy.
“The Donald M. Suggs Scholarship meant that I was able to pursue a college degree without having an extreme financial burden,” said Tyler. “It meant that I would be able to pursue my dream of working in the video/film production field.”
While at Webster University, Tyler quickly became interested in advocating for an inclusive environment. His involvement lead him to use his work to diversify the media.
“In order to increase diversity and inclusion in media, we must increase the accurate representation of commonly underrepresented communities within the media,” he said. “Often, stories about underrepresented communities focus on one specific community; however, there is a lot of overlap between communities.”
He also was a student leader on issues of importance to him, holding an officer position in Webster’s LGBTQ+ Alliance and serving as a member of the Webster University President’s Leadership Council.
As a part of his campus leadership, Tyler advocated for the installation of all-gender restrooms on campus and the development of the annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference. He helped revise the student code of conduct as a member of the Student Conduct board, and he also worked hard to double the amount of students voting in the Student Government Association elections on campus. Due to his leadership in the LGBTQ+ Alliance, he received a student award for Outstanding Leadership of a Student Organization.
He spoke to his graduating class at Webster University’s 2018 Commencement ceremony at the Muny in Forest Park when he graduated with a BA in Film Production.
“The twists and turns of life actually reveal opportunities, not obstacles if we are willing to be open minded,” Tyler told his classmates.
“Have faith in yourself and in your potential. Make a positive difference in the world, cherish your friends and family. Live life passionately, fully and well, because in doing so, you will pave your own road to success.”
Francene Bethune is a St. Louis American editorial intern provided by the Emma Bowen Foundation, which recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation's leading media, PR and technology companies.