Dr Zélie Asava

Academic. Speaker. Author.

As a Screen Studies academic, Zélie has worked for University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Arts Council of Ireland, the Irish Film Classification Office, the Irish Film Institute, Oxford University Press, Sociological Forum, Bloomsbury Publishing, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association, the Dublin International Film Festival, Screen Skills Ireland, the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, University of Chicago Press and Palgrave Macmillan. She has also supervised short films and retains close ties with industry as a film classifier, script consultant and board member of Screen Ireland, the Irish Film Institute, the Catalyst International Film Festival and the journal Unapologetic.

In 2004, she designed (possibly) the first Irish university module to explore race and film through an intersectional lens. A popular speaker at conferences from Cork to Canada, Zélie is the author of two books on Critical Race Theory and Media Studies: The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities in Irish Film and Television (2013) and Mixed-Race Cinemas: Multiracial Dynamics in America and France (2017). She is currently co-editing a pioneering special issue on race and ethnicity for the Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, as well as writing chapters for forthcoming books Austerity and Irish Women’s Writing and Innovations in Black European Studies.

As a former actress, MP’s casework manager and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Zélie enjoys addressing the intersections of race, gender and representation on stage, radio or television as well as in the lecture hall. Zélie holds an MA in Gender and Media Studies from the University of Sussex, and a 1st class BA in English and Philosophy from University College Dublin, where she completed her doctoral thesis on ‘Mixed Race Representations in French and American Cinema’.


Zélie has appeared as a contributor on RTE TV News, RTE Radio One, Newstalk and RTE Lyric FM.

In March 2021, she chaired a talk and panel with Dr Sara Ahmed for the Irish Museum of Modern Art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmwZdHy23IY

Check out her interview on ‘Race and the Irish Screen’ for RTE here: https://soundcloud.com/soundsdoable/culture-file-race-and-the

And as part of an RTE panel debating ‘cancel culture’ here: https://soundcloud.com/soundsdoable/the-culture-file-debate-sept?fbclid=IwAR0vOryCW035sBzmuV8PcI_W_tZ5WdGKuKIC3u_hgELhxhqDz30wjemBSGo

Listen in to her 2020 cultural highlights for RTE: https://soundcloud.com/soundsdoable/culture-file-likes-zelie-asava

Zélie’s keynote, ‘Diverse Narratives’, for the Irish Film Institute’s 2020 Spotlight on Irish Film and Television is available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGj7PwWAgVs

Check out her 2018 discussion with director Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor at the Irish Museum of Modern Art here: https://soundcloud.com/imma-ireland/post-screening-discussion-muttererde

Zélie was also the keynote speaker at the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, held at Chicago’s DePaul University. You can watch her talk on race and Irish cinema here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtOVr6gYMTA

And access clips of the media discussed here: https://mixedrootsstories.com/cmrs-mixed-race-irish-film-keynote-links/

Aged 8, Zélie started writing for her 11 year old cousin’s home-made satirical newspaper The Dalkey Times as a ‘London correspondent’ (!), moving on to entertainment news for her 6th Form College’s student paper at 16 and finally gaining a diploma from the London School of Journalism. While at University College Dublin she wrote and edited the Arts section for The College Tribune, as well as pieces on race and politics, and was an Arts/Features contributor to The UCD Observer, The Belfield Entertainment Review and The Film Society Magazine. After college, she worked for The Guardian and Time Out among others. Here are a few recent pieces:

A Reflection on Dr Sara Ahmed’s lecture, ‘Complaint, Diversity and Other Hostile Environments’ — IMMA Magazine https://imma.ie/magazine/a-reflection-complaint-diversity-and-other-hostile-environments/

100 Voices #AllAgainstRacism — Hot Press https://www.hotpress.com/culture/100-voices-allagainstracism-dr-zelie-asava-we-need-to-reimagine-our-cultural-landscape-and-tell-stories-that-represent-people-from-every-walk-of-life-22884991

The Truth about Dublin — The Herald Newspaper https://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/the-truth-about-dublin-an-unfair-city-27963389.html

Introducing The Black Irish Onscreen — Film Ireland http://filmireland.net/2014/01/13/the-black-irish-onscreen-representing-black-and-mixed-race-identities-on-irish-film-and-television/

Cinema and Critical Mixed Race Studies — African Women in Cinema https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2015/02/zelie-asava-mixed-raced-identities-and.html

Zélie was a founder member of Trinity College Dublin’s and University College Dublin’s Anti-Racism societies, and was responsible for the latter’s PR.


Zélie was awarded UCD’s Patrick Semple medal for academic excellence, following three successive years of achieving the highest 1.1 in her undergraduate studies.

As a postgraduate, she was awarded UCD scholarships, a fellowship, and Peter Lang’s Young Irish Scholar award.

In 2020, Zélie was the recipient of an Arts Council award.

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