Jasmyn Lawson is probably ghostwriting your favorite GIFs. No, really.
If you’ve ever used Giphy to find a GIF of Beyoncé or Joanne the Scammer, Jasmyn Lawson probably made it.
The self-described “GIF connoisseur” is the culture editor at Giphy, and she’s been leaving her mark all over its GIF library for over a year. GIFs are staples in everyday conversation, whether it be over text, Twitter or even Tinder. As someone who uses them frequently, Lawson wanted to make sure she could see herself and the people around her represented in Giphy’s content library, starting with black women and girls.
“Everyone who knows me in my personal life knows that I do everything for black girls. It’s literally my motto in life,” says the 25-year-old. “We already had a lot of great content on the site, but I just wanted to add even more intersectionality within there, making sure there was good, diverse representation of more black women.”
As culture editor, Lawson works to make sure people of all shades, shapes, ethnicities and genders can feel seen on Giphy. She works with artists to produce content for cultural celebrations like Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month and Women’s History Month.
For Black History Month, Lawson worked with several black artists to produce GIFs of prominent figures throughout black history. She also worked on a GIF series about the nuances of black women’s hair.
“We worked with a black artist to have a GIF of a little black girl having her mom part her hair [on] Sunday mornings, or that whole ritual, like spending hours getting your hair combed and making sure your scalp was greased,” she laughs. “Or the thing that I deal with almost every single night is my hair scarf falling off, waking up at 3 a.m. realizing that it’s way over there on the other side of the bed. That’s something I feel like all black women at some point relate to, and so capitalizing moments like that in GIFs was really cool and important, and it was a huge success.”
The GIF just turned 30. As media and technology evolve, career options will continue to expand in these areas. Because of this constant evolution, Lawson wants women of color, especially, to start thinking differently about possible careers in the tech industry.
“There are so many other jobs available that aren’t being an engineer or a coder,” she says.
“I really knew I wanted to be in the media space, but Giphy is only 4 years old, so four years ago, I couldn’t have said, ‘Oh, I want to work at a GIF company and do this cool career,’” says the Spelman graduate. “I’m really trying to make sure that I’m spreading that word to young people that as they’re trying to figure out what they wanna do, that the job that they want, or they might be great at or perfect at, that opportunity just might not exist yet.”