Creative for Social Change



Clarissa Joan Middleton is a creative committed to making media for social change. She received her B.S in Finance, Cum Laude, from The Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University in 2009.

In 2010 after the traumatic shooting of her younger brother, Clarissa began an independent research project on human development as it relates to the Christianity practice of spiritual formation. In 2013, The Clarissa Joan Experience, a multi-media inspirational website focused on identity formation and mental health was born.

On May 10, 2019, Clarissa graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with her MFA in Interactive Media. Her thesis “Cognitive Science, Belief, and Interactive Media as a Distribution Platform for Experiences that Enhance Human Development” has been published by the USC Digital Libraries for public viewing. Clarissa’s work in virtual reality, non-linear storytelling, applications, digital publishing, and massive open online courses has been supported and/or acknowledged by the USC Office of Religious Life, the USC Creative Media and Behavioral Health Center, The Max De Pree Center for Leadership, IntraVarsity Christian Fellowship, Oculus at IndieCade, the 2019 USC Games Expo, and the Fall 2019 IndieCade Conference.


In the Fall of 2019, Clarissa’s digital health and wellness entertainment platform, The Being Academy, demoed at the 2019 Missiology Lectures conference: “Techno-Sapiens in a Networked Era: Becoming Digital Neighbors” hosted by Fuller Theological Seminary. The Being Academy's mission is to create sacred space where members can "master the joy of being yourself." The academy offers interactive experiences for relaxation, meditation, self-reflection, behavioral health interventions, and personal transformation. 

As a Mellody Hobson Scholar, Clarissa's graduate studies were graciously supported by the George Lucas Family Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity. From 2017 - 2018, Clarissa also served as a scholar-in-residence at the USC Media Institute for Social Change. Her student story from the world of finance to studying interactive media is featured on the University's admissions website.


Prior to her studies at USC, Clarissa worked for 7 years in corporate finance, business strategy, impact investing, and communications.  She is also a talented writer whose work can be appreciated on Moguldom Media’s digital publication MadameNoire, a lifestyle publication catering to 9 million African American women monthly. Clarissa lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Theodore, and their three children Genesis, Viva, and Theo III. 



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© 2019 by Clarissa Joan Middleton.