Inclusion starts before production does

Authentic portrayals, especially of underrepresented groups, require embracing and understanding the full spectrum of experiences in the stories you’re trying to tell.


Taking an inclusive approach in your storytelling requires two key components: authenticity and character depth. That’s what helps us break past stereotypes.

  • We aim to tell real stories. We have found that the nuance of real stories helps them ring true with the intended audience.
  • If you fictionalize, ground your creative choices in sound audience research, cultural insights, and historical context.
  • Take the time to understand the experiences of the storytellers and people you’re representing, and reflect their stories faithfully. Not doing so could make your work seem overly engineered and inauthentic.
  • Whenever possible, allow people to tell their own stories with their own voices.

“The Compton Cowboys” (2020) features the story of Keiara Wade, the solo cowgirl of the horse rescue and youth advocacy group founded by Black people in Compton, California.

Sometimes, what you think is authentic is actually a stereotype. Lived experiences and a variety of perspectives can help prevent these negative portrayals.

  • Interrogate every creative detail. From the music you select to the food your characters eat on screen, ask yourself if these choices add nuance to your story or perpetuate stereotypes.
  • Ask people with perspectives different than yours if they’d be willing to provide feedback on your work. At the same time, avoid tokenizing or creating additional work for people with your request, and be sure to properly recognize their contribution through compensation and meaningful recognition.

“The Story of Jacob and City Gym” (2015) features a trans man in Kansas City, MO and the welcoming, inclusive space that ultimately becomes like a second home to him.


Background elements are as important as what’s in the foreground.

If you aren’t intentional with your creative choices, you run the risk of excluding people or playing into stereotypes. Think about how different groups of people - especially along socioeconomic status, race, and disability status lines - are excluded or included when deciding:

  • Setting: Don’t default to only one kind of environment or generic visuals of metropolitan, suburban, or rural locations. Avoid stereotyping, romanticizing, or glamorizing locales and their residents. Instead, depict a variety of locations in realistic and authentic ways, while acknowledging the unique history and culture of a place and its residents. At Google, we’ve tried to watch out for over-emphasizing white, suburban families in large homes since this doesn't accurately capture the diversity of our audience’s socioeconomic situations.
  • Terminology: Eliminate discriminatory or marginalizing place-based language in your creative choices. For example, instead of using “inner city,” name the specific neighborhood or location. If this isn’t possible, refer to cities’ areas as “metropolitan,” “core neighborhoods,” or “city centers.” Avoid place-based hierarchies and watch out for value judgments like the “best,” the “worst,” or “shady.”
  • Food: Choice in cuisine can reinforce stereotypes (e.g., feeding into gender stereotypes like women only eating light-dressing salads, men only drinking beer and eating steaks), or pose cheap metaphors (e.g., s’mores melding to represent Black and white people coming together).

“Parenting 1:01: A Moment in Search” (2019) features a variety of authentic settings, speaking to parents through realistic and relatable portrayals.

Casting, roles, and character development

Inclusive character development and casting come from intentionally inclusive scripts and strategy. Here’s how to maintain these priorities throughout the process:

  • Establish expectations with creative partners.
  • Ensure partners know that casting should reflect representation.
  • Don’t cast roles for the sake of “checking the diversity box.” Adding “diverse character” to the casting doc doesn’t cut it. Make sure there is intention and specificity behind your choices.
  • Explore protagonists from underrepresented groups that have historically been limited to supporting or background roles, or left without speaking time.
  • Real families — not ones built by a casting director — are far more successful at feeling authentic. This is especially true when attempting to cast unrelated individuals of color as a related family: differences in appearance could be overlooked.

Understanding identity through an intersectional lens (e.g., how age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, and other individual characteristics combine to affect an individual’s experiences) will help you cast roles for your story with intention.

This video from the NMAAHC is a great resource for understanding the concept of intersectionality that was developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American law professor, in response to the dual oppression faced by Black women: racism and sexism.

Diversity involves many intersecting facets of identity, including socioeconomic status, race, family structure, mindset, and more.

Strive to represent people with intersecting identities. That means not just white women but businesswomen of color; not just Black people, but married trans Black women.

“Black Girl Magic: A Moment in Search” (2019) challenged stereotypes by seeking footage and shared Google Trends of Black women pushing boundaries outside of athleticism and entertainment.