Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!

Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we are continuing to reach out to our community with tips and ideas for consuming media with kids! We know that screen time has increased and so we’re here to help. Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to selected programs for younger and older viewers, with related activities and resources.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!

Weekly Zoom Meet-ups
Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
Students Grades 3+ can join us for a weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the week’s theme and engage in some hands-on learning led by a Paley Educator. Parents and teachers are welcome to join as well!

For connection details, please RSVP to
What We're Watching: Athletes as Activists

The struggle for justice and equality in the world of sports is nothing new. Professional athletes are singular representatives for the advancement and support of social change because of their unique position in culture; we see them as almost superhuman when they compete but because of factors like race, gender, or sexuality, they can be the victims of discrimination and bigotry like anyone else. By using their power and platforms, athletes can bring focus to larger issues and help change the narrative. Our recommendations this week focus on two of the greatest athletes of all time but there is so much more to their stories than just a game.

This Week's Recommendations for Younger Viewers: Venus VS.

Venus VS (2013), directed by Ava DuVernay
Recommended for Grades 5+
Available to stream on ESPN+

In 2013, ESPN created Nine for IX, a spinoff of its popular 30 for 30 documentary series, focusing on stories of women in sports and directed by female filmmakers. The premiere film, Venus VS. takes the audience through Venus Williams’s incredible tennis career and her impact as a leader on and off the court.

Viewing Questions
  • What do you learn about the history of women’s tennis?
  • What do you learn about Venus Williams as a person and an athlete?
  • How did Venus Williams change the game of tennis early on in her career?
  • What was the inequity between men’s and women’s tennis at Grand Slam titles like Wimbledon?
  • How did Venus become a leader for equity in tennis? How did she change the “dynamic of the conversation”?
  • What role do athletes play in the fight for justice and equality?

Additional Resources



Battle of the Sexes (2017), directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton
Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer (2006), directed by Mary Carillo


This Week's Recommendations for Older Viewers

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (Episode 1, 2019), directed by Antoine Fuqua
Recommended for Grades 8+
Available to stream on HBOMax

This recent two-part documentary examines the life and career of boxing legend, “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali. The first episode covers Ali’s story up until his first fight with Joe Frazier in 1971. By using exquisite primary source footage, the film perfectly captures Ali’s incredible skill, incandescent charm, and provocative activism.

Viewing Questions
  • What do you learn about Ali’s early life and career?
  • Ali was born Cassius Clay - who was he named after? What is the significance of this name?
  • What is Ali’s persona to the press and the public?
  • How does Ali speak about race? What effect does it have?
  • What do you notice about Ali’s relationship with Malcolm X?
  • What do you learn about the religion of Islam? How does the religion influence Ali?
  • What form does Ali’s activism take?
Additional Resources


Muhammad Ali by Titeux Sybille


Ali (2001), directed by Michael Mann
Muhammad and Larry (2009), directed by Bradley Kaplan and Albert Maysles
When We Were Kings (1996), directed by Leon Gast


As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs
Photos—Venus: ESPN Films; Ali: HBO Films​
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