Stephanie and Amanda Brown are best friends and sisters who not only share parents but also a love of theater, television, movies, and all things storytelling related. These shared passions initially took the form of Amanda directing abridged versions of Annie with the neighborhood children, and Stephanie producing hyper-local news broadcasts in their basement. As they got older, Stephanie and Amanda not only gained experience in media and theater, but also became increasingly interested in education, media literacy and the ways in which stories have the power to change society both for better and for worse.
Girls Amplified is the result of years of phone conversations about the power of narrative and story and the hope that in a small way we can give more young women the tools to use storytelling to change the world for the better.
Amanda Brown is a former Humanities teacher and instructional coach and current Drama teacher. She spent most of her life immersed in storytelling in one form or another, whether that was through drama camps, playwriting classes, or being a very early blogger throughout most of middle and high school. She has a BS in TV and Film from Boston University and a Master’s in Educational Theatre from NYU. One of her missions in life is to help close the arts opportunity gap in schools, which leaves so many students without the opportunities or tools to tell the stories of their lives and communities.
To that end, while teaching high school humanities and drama at a project based school in Hawthorne, CA, Amanda regularly infused the arts and storytelling into her curriculum, including having her students create plays about genocides of the 20th century and documentaries that challenged media narratives about underrepresented groups. She has also worked with the Young Storytellers Foundation in Los Angeles, which believes every child has a story worth telling. She is currently heads the Fine Arts Department at Intrinsic schools, where she is working to establish a robust Drama and arts program for her students on the northwest side of Chicago. She hopes to continue that work through Girls Amplified and hopes that through this program, more people will hear important stories that so often go untold and unheard.
Stephanie Brown enjoys school so much that she is currently working on her third degree. She has a BA in English from Indiana University, a Master’s in Television, Radio, and Film from Syracuse University and is currently working on her PhD in Media and Communications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation project focuses on how women starting out in stand-up comedy navigate a world that has been historically male.
In addition to learning, researching, and writing, Stephanie has also taught several courses, including Media Literacy, in which she emphasized the importance of narrative and storytelling to her students through hands-on media production projects. She hopes that Girls Amplified will produce a growing community of young women who not only make their own media, but also understand how to deconstruct and analyze mainstream media stories, and to listen to and boost the stories of others.