Image - Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Past Event

Youth Talk: The Great American Lie, with Jennifer Siebel Newsom

The American Dream is the notion that every person is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of their circumstances at birth. But the reality is that for many Americans, social and economic opportunity are unattainable due to societal structures that block access to resources.

The Great American Lie examines the roots of systemic inequality through a unique gender lens. With America facing widening economic disparities, political polarization, and stagnant social mobility, the film takes audiences on an empathy journey, inspiring a path forward. Presented in collaboration with The Representation Project, this program brings filmmaker, advocate and thought leader Jennifer Siebel Newsom into conversation with a panel of student filmmakers whose work shines a youth lens on social justice and gender equity issues.

The Great American Lie is available on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. Watch the trailer:

About the Student Panelists

Angelica Rubio is in 12th grade. Angelica states, “I have lived in a single-parent household with my mom throughout most of my life. I decided to choose family as the topic of my film, because not only are they a huge significance in my life but they also provide a setting for my personal growth. I wanted to use my voice and create a deeper connection with those around me as well as acknowledge others to share their story.”

Samira Barragan is in 11th grade; she is an only child who was raised by her family in Norwalk, Tijuana, and Northeast Los Angeles. Samira says, “My family consists of 3 people, my dad, my mom and myself. The film I’ve made covers the topic of gentrification, and how I’ve seen the neighborhood change slowly through my eyes. I felt an urge to make my film on this because every neighborhood has its history, its culture and community, but unfortunately money has seemed to wipe away such a beautiful thing our communities share. We can only learn and grow, and after making this film I wish for people to see it and have a better idea of the way a community can change for ‘just business.’”

TreNisha Shearer lives in Portland, Oregon and is currently a senior at De La Salle North Catholic High School. TreNisha says: “I am from a family of four that includes my mom, my older sister, my younger brother and myself. I have lived with them my whole life, and I am now the only child in the house! The short film I did is called 'Black Till It’s Backwards.' Before the program, I had written the poem, 'Black Till It’s Backwards' for a Black History Month event that I had helped plan at school, and it was one of the first things to come to mind when thinking of a topic to make a short film about, so I went with it and made it something great.”


This program is part of the Commonwealth Club’s Youth Talks series and is presented by INFORUM and the Club’s education initiative, Creating Citizens.

The event is free, though we invite you to make a donation during registration; this is an online-only program, and you must pre-register for a link to the program.

This program is supported by the Gruber Family Foundation.

February 3, 2021

United States

Image - Angelica Rubio

Angelica Rubio

Student, 12th grade, Merced, CA

Image - Samira Barragan

Samira Barragan

Student, 11th grade, Santa Fe Springs, CA

Image - TreNisha Shearer

TreNisha Shearer

Student, 12th grade, Portland, OR

Image - Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Jennifer Siebel Newsom