Glenance Green, Deputy Director, Free Spirit Media

Glenance Green, Deputy Director of Free Spirit Media, joins the 2020 Reel Chicago Black List, a celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month.

The Reel Chicago Black List includes Global Mixx founder Mary Datcher, McDonald’s US Marketing Director Lizette Williams, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here.

Glenance Green is a researcher, artivist, author, storyteller, and content creator who uses various art forms as tools of healing and liberation for systemic change. With over 10 years of research experience and 15 years in the non-profit sector, Glenance has been keenly focused on institutionalizing racial equity.

She is also the Deputy Director of Free Spirit Media, a local media education and production organization focused on transforming media and society by providing opportunities for emerging creators, primarily from communities of color, to produce and distribute original content and to pursue artistic, personal and professional aspirations.

ALSO READ: Free Spirit Media succeeds at building bridges

Her work at Free Spirit Media is tailored toward strengthening program models and access pipelines into the industry and leveraging data through storytelling to better demonstrate and amplify the impact of Free Spirit Media’s work.

Glenance is the co-host of IL Informed, a podcast with former Illinois legislator Daniel Biss helping people better understand Illinois politics, the role of state government, and the ways in which people can effectively move the needle of change.

She also serves on the Board of Kuumba Lynx, an urban arts youth development organization that promotes Hip Hop as a tool to reimagine and demonstrate a more just world, and is the co-founder of the Black Researchers Collective, purposed to equip community with research tools to be more civically engaged, develop and maintain a community data clearinghouse of research done on Chicago communities, and use a racial equity lens to leverage findings from primary and secondary data sources to develop a series of policy briefs and infographics to influence policy.

Glenance has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University, respectively, and is currently in pursuit of her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

ALSO READ: Free Spirit moves the filmmakers of the future


Meet Glenance Green

What are you working on right now?
By day, strengthening Free Spirit Media’s access pipelines to enhance training opportunities and career pathways for emerging media makers and workers of color. By night, an indie film exploring my ancestral journey to healing from trauma by venturing to and through the Motherland.

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
Many things. Freedom fighter. Social justice advocate. Movie star. Maker of dope content that reflects my lived experiences like Spike Lee. Most of all, writer. Writing was my first love. It was the outlet that gave me a voice before I even knew I had one, or how to use it. Writing made me feel free. It was how I discovered my whole self. It was how I eventually became unapologetic about what I discovered. I knew that no matter where my life took me, it would surely be a permanent part of my journey.

Glenance Green at Free Spirit Media's 'Building Bridges' event, 2019
Glenance Green at Free Spirit Media’s ‘Building Bridges’ event, 2019

How did you get into the film industry and Free Spirit Media?
My journey to the film industry was rather non-linear. I was writing, performing, producing, and directing stage plays, poetry, manuscripts, songs, essays, you name it, and I wanted my narratives to have a broader reach. I’m a storyteller so I wanted to see them come to life and connect with people. I wanted them to heal and liberate. Make people feel something that inspires them to be better, challenges them to do better, makes them want to sit down and talk to someone about it. I wanted people to feel how Yvette Lee Bowser made me feel when I first started watching Living Single in the 1990’s. I wanted to take people’s imagination on a glorious journey, similar to the ones creatively crafted by Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Courtney Kemp, Ava DuVernay, Melina Matsoukas, and Issa Rae. Thanks to the black women who paved the way before me, I became a screenwriter. My journey to Free Spirit Media is deeply influenced by that path as well. In addition to content creation, I’m a researcher, scholar, organizer, and racial equity warrior with extensive experience running programs for youth. My role as Deputy Director is a perfect mixture of my technical and creative skills and passion.

Who were your mentors?
Life, mostly, and 100 percent of the worst days I’ve survived because I learned what it truly means to be resilient. Definitely the love and guidance of black women along my journey as well. I’m always in search of mentors to help strengthen my leadership and support my humanity, especially trailblazers in the industry, so if you’re reading this and interested in mentoring a young-ish professional, let me know. I’d love to meet for tea.

What is your greatest achievement?
All that I’ve been able to accomplish despite my non-linear trajectory and short tenure in the media industry. In the past decade, I’ve had the pleasure of songwriting for artists; writing, directing, and producing eight independent films; co-hosting IL Informed, a podcast with former Illinois legislator Daniel Biss helping people better understand Illinois politics, the role of state government, and the ways in which people can effectively move the needle of change; and strengthening career pathways and facilitating opportunities for youth of color in service of increasing racial equity in the media industry. I feel really blessed and honored to be in the mix.

What is your greatest disappointment?
I’ve had many disappointments but none great enough to hold me back from pursuing my purpose. For every disappointment, there’s always a lesson to be learned.

What are your biggest pet peeves?
Hmm. The ones that have been most consistent for me over a long period of time are…

Lack of self-awareness and accountability;
When advice or feedback is solicited but anger or frustration ensues when one doesn’t like or agree with the perspective provided;
Hypocrisy and passive-aggressive behavior.

What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
I see the film industry as a canvas, awaiting broad strokes of vibrant colors to contribute to the beautiful narratives that will be reflected in content creation and production in the years to come. An incredibly diverse workforce, creative entrepreneurship, and independent filmmaking are key components of the future.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
When I was 15, I was up at 4:00a every morning delivering newspapers for a local paper route. Not sure if that’s surprising but it certainly demonstrates my work ethic.

What do you wish you had more time to do?
Content creation, self-care and wellness, and vacation travels.

What motivates you to create?
Primarily that which I don’t see reflected much in the world. I am deeply inspired by love, passion, family, my ancestors, history, my lived experiences, the world around me, young people, my travels, trauma, pain, racial equity, healing, and liberation. I often find myself simply inspired by everyday life.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
You’re going to be so much bigger than the box that people will try to put you in to contain you. Trust yourself by always standing in your truth! You won’t always be liked, recognized, or appreciated but you will bask in the rays of sunshine that is your unique inner glow and won’t be held down by the weight of conformity to a faux impossible standard. You are powerful beyond your imagination. The greatest gift you can give yourself to unleash, activate, and harness your power is love. Shine bright, Queen! Shine bright!

Connect with Glenance on LinkedIn by clicking here. Check her out on Instagram here.