Texas Tech Graduate Perri Jenkins discusses the pressure of being a Black creator in a predominantly white industry.
Perri Jenkins left her mark at the College of Media & Communication and Texas Tech University. Graduating in May 2022, Jenkins earned her bachelor's degree in Creative Media Industries with a minor in technical communication. She was also an interactive media assistant for the college and a dedicated executive member of the Black Student Association (BSA).
During her freshman year, Jenkins immediately got involved in student organizations. She said she wanted to make the best out of her short time at Texas Tech. When she attended her first BSA meeting, it sparked something new for her.
“It felt like I could talk to anyone in that room and strike up a conversation with them,” Jenkins said.
“It just felt like a real community experience for me.”
Jenkins then decided to lead BSA as an executive member. She was elected secretary and then ended her time at Texas Tech as vice president. She said they got to work with the operations team to coordinate the opening of the newly established Black Cultural Center (BCC).
Jenkins said opening the BCC was her most proud contribution while at Texas Tech.
With aspirations to be a filmmaker and director, Jenkins is inspired recently by Kathleen Collins. Collins was a Black writer, director and much more during the Civil Rights Era. The film “Losing Ground” is one of Jenkins's favorites, she said.
During Black History Month, Jenkins said she is going to read more Black literature.
“I really love reading, but I feel like in Black History Month, I try to read a bit more intentionally and seek out authors who are Black and haven't gotten a lot of recognition,” Jenkins said.
In addition to wanting to be a filmmaker, Jenkins mentions the pressure of being Black in the industry. She said every filmmaker wants to make something good, but, for Black filmmakers, there's more pressure to make something good that also represents the community.
Jenkins even says when she watches a film made by a white director, she doesn't analyze or critique it as if it were a Black film made for Black audiences. Being a Black filmmaker, Jenkins said, is not only appeasing white audiences, but making sure you represent your community to the fullest extent.
“It's nice in theory to consider your audience,” Jenkins said.
“It's obviously important, but at the end of the day, I feel like as long as you're making something you're proud of and you know it's true, then you can't worry about the other pressure that you face externally.”
Jenkins is now a content producer at Elemeno Health, a tech startup company based in Oakland, California. She creates digital versions of healthcare documents, does video editing and information design.
“It's very fun,” Jenkins said, “Everyone is flexible and open, and it's just an environment that reminds me of [Texas] Tech in a way that everyone's super friendly.”
While Jenkins continues her career, she hopes for Texas Tech to evolve even more when it comes to representing Black culture. Jenkins said the Black Cultural Center is a great start, and while being at CoMC was an amazing experience, she said she wishes there was more curriculum based on African-American media influences.
“I know [Texas] Tech is really progressing, and I hope students are able to use the cultural center and their voices do matter on campus,” Jenkins said. “They can lead to real change.”
[Read more stories about Black excellence in the College of Media & Communication.]