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These are deeply complicated, messy times. The world we live in is hard enough for grown-ups to process, let alone kids. As a director, I want to create stories that give children the tools to understand their feelings, learn to express themselves constructively, and develop empathy toward their fellow humans. 


I know firsthand the influence of visual media for children; as a latchkey kid growing up myself, I watched TV alone at home after school a lot. I was an unconventional girl, who never liked the traditional things my female peers enjoyed. I was picked on a fair amount and was often made to feel like the odd kid out: not girly enough for the girls, but not fully welcome with the boys, either. But the characters I watched on TV didn’t judge me, and I got to see girl characters who were like me, who were NOT picked on… or if they were, they found ways to handle it. 


All kids want to feel seen and heard, and to see themselves in the stories they read, in the shows they watch. For the first time, I saw someone who was like me. I was starting to recognize myself in a new way through those characters. I was beginning to better understand the world, at least in the micro—but my worldview began to expand in the macro, as well. 


Through the programs I watched, I got to know and love people who looked and sounded very different from me. I was exposed to different cultures, experiences, and points of view. I watched characters who had the same big feelings that I did, and saw how they navigated those feelings. My viewing also became a springboard for conversation with my family, and gave me the means to talk about difficult things that mattered to me, through the lens and safe distance of another person’s story. 


Ours is an extraordinarily powerful medium, even more so now than when I was growing up, given the proliferation of screens and the overwhelming amount of content out there. But I believe that quality work—centered around good storytelling, relatable characters, and strong relationships—creates a safe space and has staying power, and will bring young viewers back time and again. I want to be part of a team that creates that kind of programming, the kind that can change kids’ lives for the better.

Jennifer Barnhart Director's Resume.jpg
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