Documentary 'Picture Character' Demystifies Creation Process for More Inclusive Emoji

These activists created emoji to help users feel more seen and included—here’s how you can do the same.

The documentary “Picture Character” demystifies the emoji creation process by profiling three activists behind new additions, including the hijabi, blood drop, which represents menstruation, and a traditional Argentinian mate drink.

“The reason why it’s so important to have representation in emoji is that not having it makes people feel marginalized,” said “Picture Character’s” director Martha Shane. “It’s really important for people to be able to express themselves through these new languages of digital symbols that has become so ubiquitous and important to texting today.”

Every year, nonprofit Unicode Consortium accepts new emoji to appear on Apple, Microsoft, and Google product keyboards. More than 2,800 emoji make up the current Unicode Standard and the latest 200+ symbol release included falafel, a sari, and icons representing people with disabilities. Anyone can propose a new emoji to Unicode.

Emoji campaigns features in the film were led by Hijabi Project, girls rights group Plan International UK, and a group of South American journalists, designers, and tech enthusiasts and they all were eventually accepted by Unicode.

The process requires submitting an academic-style paper and appealing to the Silicon Valley agency’s representatives.

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