Fan Activism: Building Joyful Organizing Movements Through Pop Culture

Fan Activism: Building Joyful Organizing Movements Through Pop Culture

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 13 10:30 AM (Central)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 13 11:30 AM (Central)

Room: Buckingham

The digital age has given rise to a form of organizing called fan activism, when civic engagement and political participation emerge from fandoms of popular books, television shows, films and video games. Often lumped in with general media and entertainment consumers, millions of fan creators are primed to be mobilized for activist causes and civic life. This panel is a practical how-to session featuring insights from leading fan activist organizations. We’ll talk about how to distinguish between consumers and fans primed to become activists; how to build an effective fan activist campaign and how to develop authentic fan activist campaigns with celebrity support. We’ll also dig into working across various fandoms (or knowing when to stick to just one) and how to navigate fan toxicity and problematic content. Novice attendees will get a crash course in this movement, while advanced fan activists will have their most pressing questions answered ahead of the 2024 election.


Sabrina Cartan


Sabrina Cartan is a fan activist, writer, and award-winning digital strategist who specializes in mobilizing online fan communities for social justice and civic causes. Sabrina is the Director of Digital Strategy at Potomac Productions, where she mobilizes and inspires fan communities to engage with issues such as women’s rights, LGBTQ+ equality, ending voter suppression, and climate justice. Sabrina’s work on the intersection of fandom and politics has been published in the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures. She is also the host and producer of Fandom Made Me, a podcast from Fandom Forward featuring conversations with activists, celebrities, media leaders, and writers about the pop culture that shaped them.


Rachel Gita Karp

Rachel Gita Karp

Rachel Gita Karp (she/her) is the Program Director of Unstoppable Voters at the Center for Artistic Activism. Through Unstoppable Voters, Rachel supports bold, strategic, and ambitious organizations, people, and projects that protect the freedom to vote with creativity and innovation. She’s helped over 80 pro-voter groups and over 1,000 individuals with training, community-building, mentorship, and more. This work builds off of and feeds Rachel’s background making activist performances for voting and voters, reproductive freedom, and increased gender representation in politics.

Other sessions: Activism in Overdrive: How to Use the Powers of Art to Have More Impact in Voting and Beyond

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Porshea Patterson


Porshèa Patterson Hurst (she/her) is a researcher and writer who uses her experience to interrogate connections between gender, racial, ability, and economic disparities within societal structures like democracy, immigration reform, and fandom. Her educational background includes a master’s degree in international educational development from Teachers College, Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lincoln University, PA.

She channels her work through stints as Research Manager at The Opportunity Agenda; Chief Experience Officer at Black Nerds Create; co-host at For All Nerds; and as a board member of Fandom Forward.

Porshéa’s writing has appeared in Forbes, These Bewitching Bonds: A Black Girls Create Anthology, Truthout, Nerds of Color, and The Wizard Activist.

Eliyannah Yisrael

Eliyannah Yisrael

Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael graduated from Chicago State University with a BA in Communications, Media Arts and Theatre. In addition to producing and directing independent projects for over 10 years, Eliyannah has worked on films and episodic material for Sony, FOX, NBC, HBO, Lionsgate, ABC/Disney, and Warner Brothers among others including “Divergent”, “Empire”, “Westworld”, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, “Ford v Ferrari” and “The Glorias”. She has directed the short films, “The Life I Carry”, “The Weight of Sadness”, “How We Flew Across the Water” and “We Love Us Cause Ya’ll Won’t”; the digital pilots, “Tuesdays @ 4” and “Lies & Lipstick, as well as creating and directing 12 episodes of the webseries, “Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis”. In 2021, Eliyannah directed the urban, coming-of-age feature film, “Loud Burger”.

She’s a Black girl from the south side of Chicago who was supposed to stay inside her box. Instead, she decided to dream big and change the world through visual storytelling. Eliyannah seeks to continue telling stories centered around Black women and other people of color.

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