Boys and media and "The Mask You Live In"

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, MBA, talks about her film "The Mask You Live In" and the boy crisis in America
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Boys and media and "The Mask You Live In"

"The Mask You Live In" is a documentary which looks at the socialization of our boys to extremes of masculinity like dominance, power, control, and aggression, at the expense of empathy, care, and collaboration. In particular, we analyze the boy crisis in America that's unique to American masculinity, and this narrative that our young boys in America are fed about what it is to be a man. Over the past few decades, there's been a lot of emphasis in our culture on empowering women and girls. And we kind of left the boys and men behind. And if you look at the boy crisis that's going on in America, it's clear that we need to do something about our boys and their social and emotional well-being. The stats in particular are alarming. Boys compared to girls are more likely to drop out of school and not graduate from even high school. They're more likely to be prescribed prescription medications, become alcoholics, abuse drugs, be depressed, commit violent crimes, and/or take their own lives. As the mother of a 2-year old son who cares about not just my son but future generations, I want "The Mask You Live In" to really awaken people's consciousness to what's really going on with our boys and men. And these are boys who if they don't deal with their social and emotional well-being are going to become adult men who end up running social institutions and perpetuating cycles of damage, pain, escapism and violence that will only contribute to an unhealthy culture, a toxic culture, and the inequity and injustices that we are currently experiencing.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, MBA, talks about her film "The Mask You Live In" and the boy crisis in America


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Jennifer Siebel Newsom, MBA

Filmmaker & Social Justice Advocate

An advocate for women, girls, and their families, Jennifer Siebel Newsom uses her skills as a filmmaker, speaker, and CEO of the non-profit social action organization to uncover the glaring injustices we live with every day yet fail to adequately see and ultimately change.  

The eldest of four girls (Jennifer lost her elder sister Stacey in an accident when they were kids), Jennifer dedicates her time and energy to helping our most vulnerable. Most recently, Jennifer has focused her energies on helping individuals recognize their power as consumers and citizens to right wrongs in the media and beyond. 

After graduating with honors from Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Jennifer worked in Africa and Latin America, helping women entrepreneurs create their own socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

She then moved to Hollywood to pursue acting, quickly landing roles in TV and film including Mad Men, LIFE, In the Valley of Elah, Rent and Something’s Gotta Give.

There - dismayed by the way women were presented in front of the camera - she realized she needed to do more work behind the camera. 

So she wrote, directed and produced the documentary film, Miss Representation, which exposes the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women, which make it difficult for the average woman and girl to feel powerful herself. 

The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Newsom subsequently launched, a social action campaign whose mission is to shift people’s consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and transform culture.

Soon she landed on Newsweek's List of "150 Fearless Women Who Shake the World", Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women”, and San Francisco Business Times’ “Most Influential Women in Business”. 

Newsom has received the “Emerging Artist Award” from The White House Project, “Champion for Kids” award from Common Sense Media, and the “Visionary Award” from Vision 2020, among others.  She has been featured in media outlets such as NPR, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, O Magazine, and Vogue

An internationally recognized speaker, Newsom has spoken at The World Bank, TEDxWomen, Google, Deutsche Bank, Charles Schwab, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit, Soroptimist International of the Americas Conference, Harvard University, MIT, The California Senate, and The National Coalition of Girls Schools to name a few. 

Today, when she’s not running her non-profit, Newsom serves as a board member for PBS’s Northern California affiliate KQED, a Global Advisory Board member of the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP), and a commissioner on the Girl Scouts’ Healthy MEdia Commission. 

In 2012 Jennifer was also an Executive Producer of the Oscar-Nominated documentary, The Invisible War, which unveils the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military. And, she is currently writing, directing, and producing her next documentary series, The Mask You Live In, which exposes the extremes of masculinity imposed on our boys and men and the resulting sociological, economic, and political impact.

Newsom resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and is the proud mother of Montana, Hunter, and Brooklynn.

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