Stacy L. Smith

Faculty Fellow


Stacy L. Smith joined the USC Annenberg faculty in fall 2003. Her research focuses on children's responses to mass media portrayals (television, film, video games) of violence, gender and hypersexuality. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1999.

Smith has written nearly 50 journal articles and book chapters on content patterns and effects of the media on youth. Further, she has received multiple "top paper" awards for her research from the Instructional Developmental Division of the International Communication Association. In terms of the popular press, Dr. Smith's research has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety,, the Boston Globe and USA Today.

Most recently, she has been working with a team of graduate and undergraduate students to assess portrayals of males and females in children' s media. Some of this work has been funded by See Jane, a program started by Academy Award-winner Geena Davis.

While research is important, Smith is most passionate about teaching. She currently teaches the undergraduate COMM 203 - Introduction to Mass Communication course at USC Annenberg. She has been recognized for her outstanding teaching, earning multiple awards from different constituencies on campus. She has received the Outstanding Professor Award from the Annenberg Students Communication Association three times, the Greek Professor of the Semester Award, the Golden Apple Award from Kappa Alpha Theta twice, the Professor of the Year Award from Gamma Alpha Sigma and was recognized as an Honorary Member of Lambda Pi Eta. More recently, she was tapped by Mortar Board at USC and was nominated by the Trojan League of Southern California for the 2008 Outstanding Service Award.

Contact Smith at or (213) 821-1546.

Stacy L. Smith In the News

According to a study performed by Faculty Fellow Stacy Smith, Hollywood movies directed by African Americans are significantly more likely to include African-American characters with speaking roles than movies not directed by African Americans. The report, co-authored by project administrator Marc Choueiti, also found that only one of the top 200 movies from 2007 and 2008 was directed by an African-American woman, according to the "Black Characters" report. "Black Characters" also quantifies the continuing, although slightly diminished, sexualization of black female movie roles versus black male movie roles. [Full article]

"These findings are troubling given that repeated exposure to thin and sexy characters may contribute to negative effects in some female viewers," Faculty Fellow Stacy Smith told Newswise. Smith studied society's sexualization of teenaged girls in film and in the corporate environment of Hollywood. "Such portrayals solidify patterns of appearance-based discrimination in the entertainment industry."

Faculty Fellow Stacy L. Smith was interviewed on USC's own Annenberg Radio News. In conjunction with International Women's Day, Smith was interviewed about the role of women in the media, and how the lack of females behind the lens in Hollywood is having negative effects on young women growing in America today.

Stacy L. Smith, Faculty Fellow, presented her research on "Gender in Media" at the Skirball Cultural Center in December. Smith's research examined the female role models that appear in family films and the frequency in which female characters appear in these movies. According to the Geena Davis Institute, 400 of the top grossing films released between 1990 and 2006 were analyzed. At that time, the ratio of male-to-female characters was determined to be 2.71-to-one. The article can be found on FishbowlLA.

Faculty Fellow Stacy Smith was featured in a Newsweek article about female presence in children's film. Smith, along with her colleague, Marc Choueiti studied 122 family films and found that only 29.7% of the characters were female. Smith's study was commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which has been compiling data on women in film.

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