Grantee Partner

Define American

Define American uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.

Define American is a culture change organization that uses the power of narrative to humanize conversations about immigrants. Its advocacy within news, entertainment, and digital media is creating an America where everyone belongs. Define American’s path-breaking work advances just narratives about immigrants and immigration through the development, consultation on, and production of entertainment story content.

Define American also consults with the news media, disseminating accurate data about immigrants and encouraging humanizing language. In the field of digital media, it uses storytelling and creative content to combat anti-immigrant propaganda and messaging. Define American’s work is data- and research-driven, building from the groundbreaking reports that the organization has released annually since 2018.


In 2019 and 2020, Define American was recognized by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in the world, for “using popular culture to influence the [immigration] debate. To date, Define American has consulted on more than 65 film and television projects, to help them develop more realistic immigrant characters and navigate complex immigration-related storylines. For example, they consulted on an episode for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, where it’s revealed that a surgical intern is a DACA recipient, and for NBC’s Superstore, where a gay Filipino employee, learns that he is undocumented.

Unbound Philanthropy has supported Define American since its founding in 2011. Its work advances our Public strategy, to ensure nuanced, accurate portrayals of immigrants and immigration in the news and entertainment media.

We're living in a world where certain people feel disenfranchised or certain people feel threatened. We [worked with Define American to] try to tell the story on the sci-fi metaphorical level, and then to tell the story on a more real level. We have undocumented immigrants on our show that are feeling threatened the same way we have aliens on our show that are feeling threatened.

Carine Adly MacKenzie

The showrunner of the CW’s Roswell in an interview for TeenVogue

Define American is the leading immigration expert for the film and television industries


Film and television projects Define American has consulted on to develop more realistic immigrant characters and navigate complex immigration-related storylines.


Photo 1: Launch event for Define American’s 2018 Entertainment Media study at the Writer’s Guild Association in Los Angeles. From left: Rebecca Sun (The Hollywood Reporter), Rafael Augustin (Jane the Virgin), Mando Alvarado (Vida), Cristela Alonzo (Cars 3), Nico Santos (Superstore), Christopher Hollier (Roswell, New Mexico)