People on Twitter are revealing the first time they saw 'themselves' on screen.
Lieutenant Uhura in "Star Trek." Tia and Tamera from "Sister, Sister." Susie Carmichael on "The Rugrats."
Twitter users are chiming in with stories of the first time they felt represented by a character on-screen, using the hashtag #FirstTimeISawMe.
The trending hashtag is part of a multimedia campaign launched by Netflix to promote its "diverse, layered and intersectional content," including Marvel's "Luke Cage" and "Dear White People."
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
"Seeing someone that looks like you and deals with similar things that you have to deal with is powerful because you inevitably feel like you can conquer your issues once you see someone else on-screen do it first," Netflix spokesperson Myles Worthington writes in an email.
Many who posted to the hashtag noted the powerful impact that certain iconic characters — from princesses to Power Rangers — had on them as young children.
@BlackGirlNerds #FirstTimeISawMe was Aisha on Power Rangers https://t.co/hwcEO3UGMz— Danielle (@Danielle) 1501593941
Characters like Static Shock, with fully fleshed out personalities, interests, and skills — particularly nerdy ones — received lots of praise.
Virgil Ovid Hawkins aka Static Shock was the #FirstTimeISawMe self-professed geek, tabletop RPG lover and gamer https://t.co/oZ4uqI8QLM— Future Glock DDT (@Future Glock DDT) 1501610252
Others, like Sulu from "Star Trek," even helped some Twitter users figure out what they wanted to do later in life.
#FirstTimeISawMe Sulu from "Star Trek". An Asian man piloting a GD space ship. No wonder I got an engineering degre… https://t.co/2gxI23IiDB— Eric R. Umali (@Eric R. Umali) 1501594966
Some pointed out that they're still waiting to see themselves fully represented.
#FirstTimeISawMe Probably The Namesake when I was well into adulthood. But still haven't seen a female desi version… https://t.co/taE05lwiyF— LaVidaLopa (@LaVidaLopa) 1501609634
@BlackGirlNerds #FirstTimeISawMe was w Princess Jasmine. A pseudo Arabic cartoon character despite me being South A… https://t.co/IsU1822Ty9— commissions open! dm for details! (@commissions open! dm for details!) 1501612126
With the ratings success of programming like FOX's "Empire" and ABC's Shonda Rhimes universe, both the small and large screen have diversified in recent years, though some would like to see the process speed up.
"I think it’s still slow going, but it’s getting better — depending on what you watch," Constance Gibbs of Black Girl Nerds, who collaborated on a video for the campaign, wrote in a blog post. "If you watch Netflix or ABC or even somewhat the CW, you may see someone who looks like you (but maybe not as a lead character). But if you watch a network like CBS, you probably won’t — no matter who you are."
CBS recently found itself mired in twin controversies after announcing a fall season with no female-helmed shows and after two Asian-American actors left long-running "Hawaii Five-O," citing pay discrepancies with their white cast-mates.
Gibbs noted, approvingly, that networks have featured more fully characterized dark-skinned black women on screen in recent years, in shows such as Netflix's "Chewing Gum" and ABC's "Still Star-Crossed" and hopes the networks continue to spread the opportunity around.
"There are many who are still waiting for that first burst of authentic representation," she writes over email.
Netflix hopes the campaign will emphasize its commitment to this growing trend.
"We don’t have advertisers to think of, or specific time slots to consider, or a cap on the amount of shows we can create," Worthington says. "If we uncover a unique story that we think our members will enjoy, we can bring it to life."
There's a progressive shift happening in mainstream media. It's exciting to see. Let's keep pushing #FirstTimeISawMe https://t.co/dDpb1vh2Pp— Bryan Young (@Bryan Young) 1501594478
Uncover enough of them, and perhaps today's kids won't have to start an appreciative hashtag on the social network of tomorrow.
Though we're always here for more Power Rangers GIFs.