Since the 2010 launch of the espnW brand, ESPN has done various projects there, including a website vertical, films, summits, and more. On Wednesday, around this year’s summit in New York City, ESPN announced a new initiative, W. Studios. They describe that as “a new content generator that creates, produces, and amplifies women-centered storytelling,” which will work with ESPN Films and ESPN Original Content and create projects for a variety of ESPN platforms.
The first W. Studios project will be five short films in a Fifty/50 Shorts series (Fifty/50 is a wider project ESPN announced earlier this year around the 50th anniversary of Title IX), in partnership with Google. They’ll premiere on ESPN2 and ESPN’s YouTube channel on June 1. The existence of those films was initially announced in March, but we now have titles and details on them. Before that, though, here’s more on W. Studios and the Fifty/50 Shorts from ESPN’s release:
“In 2010, espnW was launched with a passionate eye toward serving and elevating women and women’s storytelling, and for the past 12 years, it has done just that. W. Studios is an expansion of the espnW brand – curating, creating, producing, and amplifying narratives about women that further diversify the storytelling within ESPN,” said Allison Glock, Executive Producer. “We look forward to creating stories that are authentic to the female experience and widen the lens of opportunity for all.”
In partnership with Google to give women athletes the recognition they deserve, the first project under the W. Studios umbrella will be the W. Studios Fifty/50 Shorts Presented by Google, five short films centered around the fight for women’s equality across the sports and cultural landscape. The films present a diverse line up of creatives and content that speak to viewers from a place of authenticity and boldness, both in the story and in the method of storytelling, all helmed and executive produced by women. The films will premiere June 1 on ESPN2 as part of the “Fifty/50 Initiative,” and will be available on ESPN’s YouTube page.
As for the films themselves, “Home Field” (directed by Glock with Kate T. Parker) will follow the lives of three teenage girls playing soccer on a team made up of refugees in Clarkston, Georgia. “Let Noor Run” (directed by Shayla Harris) profiles Noor Alexandria Abukaram, a cross-country runner from Ohio who was disqualified from a race for wearing a hijab and then started an effort to protect runners like herself. “The Rule of Sedona Prince” is directed by Bethany Mollenkof and executive produced by Robin Roberts; it will see Roberts talking to Prince, whose profile took off around the 2021 weight room video that furthered NCAA inequality debates and already led to some changes (but could inspire more), about the highs and lows of social media fame, and about Prince’s challenges to represent sports, feminist, and queer audiences while also competing in elite sports. “Girls Got Game” (directed by Elizabeth Lo) will spotlight esports organization Complexity’s first all-female team, GX3, while “Make A Splash” (directed by Bonnie Cohen) will cover a team in the San Diego Women’s Basketball Association comprised of women 50 and older. More details on each of those films are available on ESPN Press Room.