Sharing thoughts and emotions online is easier than ever thanks to GIF search engines like Giphy, which currently provides 2.5 billion GIFs per day to users around the world.
Jasmyn Lawson, who started working at Giphy as a general editor and is now the platform’s culture editor, wants to make sure everyone sees themselves reflected in Giphy’s content. Lawson focuses on creating and maintaining a sense of diversity and inclusion for the brand.
“I started working on lots of special projects based on different identities and [heritage] months,” said Lawson.
Some of her first projects centered on Black History Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, as well as social movements she felt needed more attention like feminism and LGBTQIA communities, which didn’t have a clear category on Giphy’s site.
“It takes a long time to make an episode of television or a whole movie,” said Lawson, whose first jobs out of college were in the TV industry. “But with GIFs, if a conversation is happening in a community, we can rally together and get that theme together in a matter of days. A lot of real people use social media every day, Giphy itself has a cool and diverse staff, and we should be able to see ourselves online.”
Lawson’s work, which grew out of her desire to take on more projects relating to diversity and what Giphy presented on its site, has been well received by fans and GIF users around the world. Lawson believes the business of inclusivity should work its way from the top down, starting with executives who want to be more mindful of what they put out into the world.
“It’s all about listening to people, especially those who have been marginalized, and amplifying them as much as possible,” she said. “We’ve seen amazing changes when people take our ideas seriously. My ideas mattered here, but in a lot of other places people are scared to speak up.”
Lawson is excited that Giphy will be a part of larger conversations in the tech and media communities. People will “look back in time and see [which companies] were rooting and supporting people,” she said.
Culture editor, Giphy
Digital project manager, Glow Digital Agency
Merchandise and licensing coordinator, Showtime Networks
Page, administrative assistant, NBCUniversal
At Giphy, Lawson coordinates original GIF shoots with artists, actors and partners, as well as capturing moments from pop culture, to provide more diverse and inclusive search results to Giphy users.
How she got the gig
After taking on extra projects that related to social movements that gave “a voice and light to communities that don’t often see that light,” Lawson had conversations with her superiors at Giphy, who were happy to give her this leadership position.
For Lawson, the evolution of GIFs went in a similar direction as other popular media companies: it started with too many cats, “but now GIFs are really how we communicate every day,” she said. “And we want representation in GIFs the same way we want to see it in TV and film.”