Characters Unite program tours Los Angeles, teaches diversity
USA Network has gone well beyond public service announcements with its Characters Unite initiative, which aims to promote tolerance and acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds.This year’s campaign has incorporated a national storytelling tour featuring notable figures, including some USA stars, sharing stories of their personal experiences with prejudice and discrimination. The tour stops Wednesday at Los Angeles’ Pacific Design Center. Nathan Lane hosts “A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power,” which will feature screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and “The Help” co-star Octavia Spencer among the five storytellers, along with a musical perf by John Legend. “The whole idea is to get people to share the story of their experience and how it changed them,” said Toby Graff, USA’s senior veep of public affairs. “These stories help foster greater understanding about people’s differences. People may realize they have a lot more things in common.” The live events are recorded and made available via CharactersUnite.com. Another component of the campaign involves USA’s partnership with the nonprofit storytelling org the Moth, whose volunteers work with high school students and community groups to develop storytelling skills. As part of the Characters Unite tour, Moth has held workshops in local high schools to help a handful of students shape stories to be shared at a school-wide assembly. The L.A. swing will set up at East L.A.’s Jefferson High School, and many Jefferson students will attend the Pacific Design Center event.