Next Creative Leaders 2019: Brynna Aylward

Posted on Nov 07, 2019

Preferred pronouns:

She / Her / Hers


Hometown and country:

Chicago, IL


Current employer, city and role:

Red Fuse, New York, Associate Creative Director


How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?

My parents set the bar super high because they’re both extremely creative — my dad plays music and my mom does pottery — AND extremely logical — my mom’s an attorney and my dad’s an orthodontist. So I think their unique ways of looking at the world led me to embrace my creative side but also appreciate the rules set by a brief. Side note: while “creative” doesn’t sound quite as impressive as “doctor” and “lawyer” they are shockingly supportive of what I do.


What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?

Upon graduating with a degree in creative advertising, my advanced creative concepts teacher told me that I wouldn’t get a job (despite hiring 2 of my male fellow students) and advised that I become an administrative assistant and work my way into creative department if I couldn’t afford portfolio school. I think the frustration from that advice was exactly what I needed to prove him wrong. I got my first job at BBDO a few months later.


What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?

I’m most proud of RespectHer. It was a true passion project — no brief, no client (at first), no agency involvement (at first); just a bunch of passionate people eager to do anything they could to fight sexual harassment and assault in this country.


What does meaning this award mean to you?

Winning this award means a lot to me. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the 3% Conference the past 2 years and I vividly remember the inspired awe — mixed with slight pang of jealousy — that I felt when I heard the Next Creative Leaders announced. To be included amongst such talented creatives is truly an honor.


Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?

Pedro Perez. He is a fantastic creative with the unique ability to push people in the way they need to be pushed to get the best out of them.


What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative super power and how to you flex it?

I’ll never forget the time one of my mentors, Cinzia Crociani, told me I was “annoying” with the proudest smile on her face. At first I thought it was a translation issue (she’s from Italy) but when she elaborated I realized that it was one of the best compliments I had ever received. Annoying means you’re relentless in your pursuit of good work. That you’ll bother whoever you need to as often as you need to get the desired result. Annoying means you ask questions and push for answers that you can learn from. Annoying means letting go of self-consciousness and being comfortable looking stupid when necessary. So I’m proud to say that being annoying is my creative super power.


What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing women right now (work or non work related) and how would you solve it?

A big challenge for women in our industry is getting paid less than our male counterparts. Change has been started with state laws that prohibit asking current salary but I believe that a more open established salary range would be a simple solution to this complex problem.


If you were CCO of your company, what would be the one thing you’d change (if you could just wave your magic wand?)

If I was in charge of any agency, I would take chances on creatives with potential. In our industry, we often operate with a lot of fear, waiting until someone has already done the job we are giving them instead of providing that sink or swim moment when they can truly grow and rise to the occasion.


The theme of this year’s 3% Conference is “29%” in an effort to help men experience what their female colleagues experience every day as the minority. What’s one thing you wish your male colleagues could see through your eyes?

The power of eye contact and what it feels like to not receive it from important people in important settings, especially when your male partner is given it much more easily and often.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

That helping others succeed can be just as rewarding (if not more so) than succeeding yourself. I honestly think I was more excited about my direct report getting promoted than she was.


What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career so far and how did it pan out?

I’m a born and raised Chicagoan but like most in this industry, I’ve always known that New York is where big things happen. So I’m giving it a shot, this midwestern girl is headed to the big city.


How do you “fill up your cup” creatively?

If I ever feel myself getting burnt out or just stuck I look to other art forms for inspiration. I’ll take a screen printing class or watch a documentary on watercolor or try my hand at woodworking. Even if the process doesn’t help with my particular creative brief, I walk away reminded why I love working in a creative field.


What’s currently inspiring you?

I recently saw a panel of female Chicago street artists and fan-girled really hard. But honestly their passion, physical strength (it takes a lot to paint a building!) and skills have kept me inspired and creeping on their instagram accounts the past few months.


What would be your dream project and why?

My dream project would be one for a non-profit cause I care about with an unlimited budget and access to the best production talents in the business.


Who would be your dream collaborators and why?

Since this is a dream, this collaboration will cross space and time (obviously). I have gotten the privilege of working with some amazingly talented people over the years but those experiences are spread across time and the people are spread around the globe. So, I would would love to be able to bend space and time to compile a dream team of my favorite coworkers of all time.


Who’s your (current) woman crush every day?

My woman crushes are the women that I had the privilege of working with every day for years: Michele Brandel, Allie Salzman, Lily McNamera and Kristin Grandberry just to name a few.


How are you leaving the work, the workplace or the world a better place than you found it?

I firmly believe that advertising can help make real change in the world. So from casting choices, to mentorship, to fighting for work that makes a difference, I try to use the platform that comes with this industry to make a positive impact.


What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to women embarking on a creative career?

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and want. Things are always flexible and more often than not you’ll get what you ask for.

Click here to view her award winning work 

Next Creative Leaders 2019

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