Long Island Girl Talk students Qianna Thomas, 10, of Uniondale records...

Long Island Girl Talk students Qianna Thomas, 10, of Uniondale records Anisa Collins, 9, of Hempstead interviewing Mikila Thompson at the Long Island Entrepreneurship Conference in Uniondale. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

For the past several years, Marcia McNair has helped young women to see the “light.”

McNair is the founder of Long Island Girl Talk, a nonprofit that encourages girls 8 to 18 years old to pursue a career in media, providing them hands-on training in television production. The group meets monthly at Nassau Community College, one of its sponsors that also provides space for the organization to operate.

“We use the acronym LIGT, which we call ‘light,’ because we’re full of light and love for what we do,” McNair said.

The free program teaches school-age girls from Brentwood, Freeport, Hempstead, Roosevelt and Uniondale such skills as reporting, interviewing, script writing, producing, camera operating, editing, lighting and sound design. Girls from outside those communities can also participate with a recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor. The group meets one Saturday a month from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The girls receive technical training from the group's director of production, Kelly-Ann Rivera, who directs filming and production. Each session includes a workshop with a female professional in the field of media. Most recently, actress and independent filmmaker Victoria Negri conducted a workshop on directing.

“I think it’s important to capture them early, before they’ve made any type of real career decision,” said McNair, a journalism professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City and a former editor at Essence magazine, the iconic magazine focused on African-American women.

The group will host its sixth annual holiday party and awards ceremony fundraiser on Dec. 8 at Nassau Community College.

“By learning to create their own broadcast material, whether or not girls pursue jobs in the media, they are empowered to create their own media, which allows them to be proactive in promoting positive representations of themselves and their marginalized communities,” said Natasha Nurse, Girl Talk program coordinator.

Jada Scott, 16, of Hempstead, said her participation in the program during the past four years has boosted her confidence in front of the camera — and in her day-to-day life.

“I have learned to articulate my words better on camera and how to work a camera on set,” said Scott, a junior at Uniondale High School. “I think programs like this are important because it gives girls who want to go into the media production field a head start and experience at the work they will be doing in the future.”

From September to April, participants learn the skills necessary to produce their own TV show about issues relevant to Long Island women and girls. Long Island Girl Talk’s show airs on the organization’s YouTube Channel and on public-access cable television (Channel 40 for FiOS customers and Channel 20 for Optimum subscribers). 

Scott said she plans to pursue a career in journalism, a decision she said was influenced by her involvement in Long Island Girl Talk.

“This program has helped me see that there is no limit in the media world, and you can do many different things,” she said.

Scott and Lovely Wiley, 16, of Uniondale, said the organization is not all talk. It is a sisterhood, Wiley said. Both girls credit the program with helping them to forge new friendships they would have otherwise gone without.

Said Scott, “I think the biggest lesson I have learned from Long Island Girl Talk is hard work pays off and you can achieve a lot when you work together with other people.”

Long Island Girl Talk

TO WATCH 11:30 a.m. Mondays on Optimum Channel 20; noon Mondays and 5:30 p.m. Thursdays on FiOS Channel 40

PROGRAM SIGN-UP INFO longislandgirltalk.org

HOLIDAY FUNDRAISER 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 8 at Nassau Community College. Tickets are $10 ($5 younger than 12) includes buffet lunch. Tickets at eventbrite.com.