Melina Matsoukas, Howard University and Instagram Launch Share Black Stories ‘Future First’ Reels Challenge

Melina Matsoukas accepts the best directorial debut award for “Queen & Slim,” at the National Board of Review Awards gala on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020; Instagram x Share Black Stories ‘Future First’ Reels Challenge flyer
Melina Matsoukas accepts the best directorial debut award for “Queen & Slim,” at the National Board of Review Awards gala on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020; Instagram x Share Black Stories ‘Future First’ Reels Challenge flyer
Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP (AP), Graphic: Courtesy of Instagram and Howard University (AP)

If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve probably viewed an Instagram Reel at this point—whether it was sent to you by a friend or you saw it organically on the “Explore” page. There’s a lot of opportunity for creators to show off their skills and this is just one more outlet in the booming world of short-form content.

For Black History Month, Instagram has been highlighting #ShareBlackStories as a call-to-action and show of support for those across the African diaspora. On Tuesday, it was announced that the social media app is joining forces with director Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim) and Howard University to support Black storytellers with the launch of Instagram x Share Black Stories ‘Future First’ Reels Challenge. This one is for y’all at HU!

Per a press release sent to The Root:

The program, launching today, will feature selected emerging student storytellers from the Howard University Department of Media, Journalism, and Film, each of whom will receive a $10,000 production stipend to support costs associated with the creation of their work. In addition to mentorship provided by Ms. Matsoukas and Howard University advisors and educators, the selected student storytellers will have the opportunity to have their content earmarked for sharing across @instagram and other channels on the platform, providing broad reach to the platform’s digital audience.

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“Having the ability to create in these spaces and have hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, immediately be able to see, react, respond and be affected by your work is so powerful,” Matsoukas said in a statement. “The internet and social media have had a significant impact on the world of media and entertainment, and I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity to work with an historic institution like Howard University, and the team at Instagram, to mentor the next generation of artists, to share what I’ve learned, and to learn from them, too.”

“This partnership is an awesome opportunity for our students to participate in the Instagram #Share Black Stories Reels Competition,” Howard Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders said in a statement. “It provides a forum to showcase the creativity of our talented students to shine through the Black stories they create.”

The challenge will kick off during Black History Month 2021, culminating with a special Juneteenth celebration recognizing the top creators on June 18. For more information, including rules and to enter the challenge, head to slugglobal.com/igfuturefirst.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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