Oriel Davis-Lyons: Learn Your Craft
By Alixandra Rutnik on Jan 18, 2024
Mother NY CCO and ONE School Co-Founder shares his experience working with The One Club
Every year we at The One Club for Creativity strive to grow our inspirational community, and 2024 is no different.
We are looking forward to welcoming many new incredible members into the Club this year. But before we do, we took the time to get to know our current members a little bit more.
With the help of photographer and One Club member Suzanne Saroff, we’ve featured the impactful stories of six of our members through a series of stunning portraits, and we have finally reached our last one.
The wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd brought numerous racial and social issues into the glaring public spotlight. It also brought Brooklyn–based creative Oriel Davis-Lyons into the One Club community for an opportunity to make some genuine changes for our industry. The result? The creation of ONE School, a truly revolutionary free portfolio school that helps bring more Black creative talent into the business.
Three and a half years later, ONE School is going strong, and Oriel is now the CCO of Mother NY. He’s sat on The One Show’s Cultural Driver jury and has taken the stage at our annual Where Are All The Black People? diversity conference and career fair. And throughout it all, Oriel has remained a calm, cool, and collected guy, making our sit-down with him for this membership series a pleasantly relaxing experience.
What was your first touchpoint with The One Club for Creativity?
Oh, definitely The One Show, which I've known about since the first year of my career. The One Show is one of the tentpole moments of the creative calendar, and I knew very early on that I wanted to win a Gold Pencil. It was only later on that I realized the extent of the things the Club does in the industry, far beyond its awards.
“The One Show is one of the tentpole moments of the creative calendar, and I knew very early on that I wanted to win a Gold Pencil.”
We are just about to wrap up the seventh semester of ONE School, and applications for the eighth are about to open up next week. What are your thoughts on the program’s results now vs. what you hoped and dreamed for back when it all started in 2020?
My original hopes for ONE School have been way surpassed by its continuous growth. I’ve always wanted it to outlast me and be around for decades to come. It has turned into this incredible sustaining community that is more than I could have ever really imagined for it. We have graduated 200 students to date and have a 72% hire rate, all without charging the students a penny. And our early grads are already giving back to the program in new ways.
“It has turned into this incredible sustaining community that is more than I could have ever really imagined for it.”
So many people want to get involved in ONE School, too, whether that’s by giving their time, sponsoring, or offering a once-in-a-lifetime collaborative opportunity, we’re open to it all. The ultimate goal for ONE School is to provide an experience for the students that is unlike any other.
In 2021, you served on The One Show Cultural Driver Jury. How was that experience?
I was super impressed with the caliber of people that were a part of the jury. It’s incredible to work with and listen to people you respect massively. The work that connects culture is the stuff that resonates and really moves the needle.
I understand that you were a chef in an earlier life. Are there any ways that cooking and advertising relate?
I never went to culinary school, but I worked my way up from dishwashing. Working as a chef was definitely a high-stress and volatile environment. And having to think creatively under pressure is what links these two careers together. Both careers have to execute at a high level of quality under massive pressure and high stakes, but luckily there are no knives in advertising!
“Both careers have to execute at a high level of quality under massive pressure and high stakes, but luckily there are no knives in advertising!”
As a dad of two young boys, what are your thoughts on prioritizing both family and work?
Neither of these roles is something that you stop being at any point of the day. It’s really all about being present in the moment you are in.
Connect. Learn. Elevate. Give Back. Which one of these membership themes resonates with you the most?
Right now, I’m thinking about giving back and focusing on how I can help rising leaders learn their craft, the craft of leadership, and lead diverse high performance teams. Leadership is a skill you can learn, but it is a different mindset from how we work creatively. You go from thinking about your own work to thinking about how you can help other people do their work.
Oriel is an industry leader, as a creative and as someone having a massive impact on the landscape of the industry. We are so grateful to foster a community of members who truly care, who dream big and make giant things happen. And we are proud to help them make the change they want to see. While membership doesn't mean everyone starts something at the scale of ONE School, it does mean there is a place for you to get involved, to share your story, to lift others up and meet others who can help you grow in your career. We want our members to share their desires to get engaged, their vision for the future of the industry and work with you to realize it. There are no limits to the impact you can make, how can membership at The One Club help you make it?