Lisa Osborne- "Encouraging Black Participation in VR: The Role of Gatekeepers" (2018)

Lisa Osborne, MIT Open Documentary Lab, 4 December 2018.

In April 2018, Black Public Media,  a 40-year-old arts nonprofit that supports black filmmakers and funds black films, hosted its first AR and VR showcase. That event kicked off BPM’s entry into emerging media, overall, and its mission to increase black participation in VR, specifically. BPM has spent the rest of the year experimenting. What role can a gatekeeper organization play in VR education? Can one, non-tech and noncommercial organization move the needle on this Herculean task? How have attendees in Brooklyn, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Harlem reacted so far? Who is our target audience within the black creative community? And what can other arts administrators, arts funders, professional networking organizations, and educators learn from our efforts?

Lisa Osborne

Lisa Osborne believes that storytelling is a powerful change agent—for individuals and entire cultures. As Black Public Media’s director of emerging media, she introduces filmmakers to virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence as storytelling mediums.

When she graduated from Northwestern with a journalism degree, Lisa did not have an email address. AOL started distributing free-trial CDs the following year. After stints in newspaper and book publishing, Lisa helped launch Turner’s first online content startup and something just clicked. The experience permanently shifted her career path from print to digital and her profession from editor to producer. She moved to Germany to run, becoming the first full-time internet hire at adidas AG. Seeing France beat Croatia and watching Jonah Lomu play were peak moments of her time there. At the American Film Institute’s incubator in Los Angeles, she produced digital prototypes for NBC, MTV, Cartoon Network, PBS, and, yes, even AOL. After AFI, she worked independently for film and TV clients, including frequent collaborations with Sundance Institute’s New Frontier team, which introduced her to VR in 2012. She also created and taught a class for Carnegie Mellon University.

Timeline: 2010s
School: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department: Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Career: Arts & HumanitiesEducationTechnology
Object: Video
Collection: Afrofuturism, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Talks, Women