How The West Was ONE

By Brett McKenzie on Sep 24, 2020

Hot on the heels of its East Coast launch, fifteen Black creatives begin ONE School West classes


When The One Club for Creativity announced the creation of ONE School back in July, we weren't 100% sure of what the reception would be. Sure, there has long been a need for the advertising industry to bring more people of color into its ranks, and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd forced agencies to reconsider their roles in a world of social injustice, but would they back the creation of a free portfolio program for Black creatives? Would we be able to attract enough Black creatives to successfully run the program?

We needn't have worried.

The incredible response to ONE School saw dozens of agencies lining up to get involved, and hundreds of potential students applying. The reception was so great that we immediately launched a West Coast version of ONE School in order to accommodate the demand, and invited students more comfortable with Pacific Time to join.

This week, ONE School West began with fifteen students ready to learn the skills that will help them break into the ad biz — as well as introduce them to agencies who are rooting for their success. You've seen the ONE School East class already, now let's meet the best of the West!

 


Jeriel Allison

35, Retention Account Executive
Chattanooga, TN

IG: @ITSJUSTJERIEL

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

I take a walk and turn on my favorite music. Either some Jay-Z to get a sense of conquering or some New Jack Swing, to “Groove Me.” Corny I know but true!

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

There are so many but I’d go with Malcolm X. Based on the times we’re in, I’d ask if he’s prepared a sequel to his infamous speech, “Ballot or The Bullet?”

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

Life and its lessons have allowed me to be both humble and fierce. Meaning that I’m forever a student to my craft but also highly competitive. I’m dedicated to personal excellence which directly benefits those who invest in me. “Mamba Out.”

 

Lexi Beckman

27, Account Manager
HBay Area, CA

LEXBECKSS.COM

IG: @LEXBECKSS

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Getting outside. Nature is my favorite form of self care, and when I'm in nature I'm able to be my most authentic self. Climbing and hiking are my passions, and that's where I hit the reset button and break through any creatives blocks. Disconnecting, embracing the stillness, surrounding myself with new experiences for my sense calms my soul and allows my mind to run free.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

Easy, Maya Angelou. I don't know if I could land on just one question, but I think I'd go with "what would tell someone who sees their creative work out in the world, and can't help but think it would be better if I had done x,y,z?"

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

Someone who is passionate driven by creativity, craving to push boundaries. Someone who wants to be a leader, pave a way for herself as a Black woman in this industry as well as fight for the next generation of Black creatives. Someone who perseveres, pays no mind to naysayers and is confident in herself and her power to make an impact.

 

Janay Cooper

24, Content Creator
Vancouver, WA

JANAYCOOPER.COM

IG: @kipperlepremier

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

I productively procrastinate — finding the value in wasting valuable time means allowing myself to fall into the rabbit hole of colorful content (music, movies, books, etc.) with intention and awareness. Legitimately, this is how I’m able to bring forth my best ideas from the mental lint trap in my head.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I’d want to bring back Little Richard to ask, “how sure does one have to be of themselves, at the start, in order for their life’s work to impact the world as well as be remembered and cherished decades later?”

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

You furrowed those brows when you saw that I'm from Vancouver, Washington, huh? Perhaps it's because you’ve never in your life heard the Black Pacific Northwest perspective represented in mass media before. Neither have I. Now’s the time; otherwise, enjoy the same rotation of print and pixels forever plastered in the land of tomorrow.

 

Jonathan Daniel

27, Freelance Strategist + Full Time Creative
New York, NY

jdaniel.co

IG: @_jonathandan

TWITTER: @_jonathandan

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

What gets me out of a creative rut typically is meditating and being in nature, however I find the most important thing to do is immerse myself in what inspires me. Whether it's great photography on Pinterest/IG or a nicely designed graphic/ aesthetic, I can always count on those things to reignite my creative mind! It's important to visualize those things you see yourself creating.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I would bring back Tupac Shakur, as his words, music, and ideas will always inspire me! I would ask him: "You're a man who's both on a mission and gifted with several talents. If you weren't doing music or acting, what other spaces do you see yourself occupying to create impact and reach the masses?"

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

If modesty is overrated: then I would say the advertising industry should be ecstatic to welcome me in. Advertising is one of the toughest industries that requires tenacity, originality, and dedication. I am those things and then some. I am always willing to learn, but also know my value, which I believe to be essential in the industry. 

Lastly, I offer a unique and innovative approach to generating "new ideas" as well as solving "existing issues" that I see. My creativity and strategic thinking is unmatched. I love storytelling and creatively crafting concepts. I am passionate about what I do and ready to add value and a lil' color to this industry. 

 

Nick Fequiere

26, Account Associate
Bakersfield, CA

medium.com/@nicolasfequiere

IG: @rianjoseph

TWITTER: @omarisoftwick

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

I go for a drive, play my favorite Spotify playlist, clear my mind, and then let it wander. Inspiration comes in many forms and music happens to be one of the most engaging for me.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

This was such a difficult question because of the number of inspirational figures that have existed within our community, but I would ask Chadwick Boseman what well he drank from to have the strength to keep providing art and inspiration for our community and for the world at large.

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

Any organization that passes me up is losing out on my unique perspective, my ambition, my tenacity, and my vision. I come from a proud Trinadadian and Haitian heritage, and my people are some of the most beautiful, colorful, and creative. I channel that passion in all that I do.

 

Meklit Gebre-Mariam

27, Creative Director
Los Angeles, CA

bymeklit.com

IG: @meklitg

TWITTER: @meklitgebre

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

I give myself room to breathe — I take a long walk or a shower. Recently, I've been skateboarding to alleviate creative blocks. I go by the beach for a couple of hours and it has helped me incredibly. I feel rejuvenated and excited to get back to work.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I can't answer this question! Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jimi Hendrix, Lucille Ball, Malcolm X, Whitney Houston — these are just some of the names I can think of on the top of my head. I'd ask about their process. What is the secret sauce to their greatness?

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

I'm not just a creative director. I'm a photographer, designer, strategist, copywriter, and more. That means I'm always looking at the big picture and building a cohesive story. I've worked with Fortune 500s and early stage startups. No team, budget, role is too big or small.

 

Stephen Sean Hewett

34, Filmmaker
Harlem, NY

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

When I feel stuck, I like to talk about an idea with people that I trust. If talking is not an option, I like to do something unrelated to the idea, like working out.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

Honestly, I'm more interested in what happens after life. Anyone that can tell me that will do.

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

My passion for collaboration and problem solving make me an asset to any team. I am a talented writer and I want to be as great as I can be. I invite critique and challenge as opportunity for growth. Let's make some great work!

 

Venezia Jones

26, Music Artist
Detroit, MI

IG: @nezi_j

TWITTER: @nezi_j

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Space really helps me. I need space away from people to clear my mind and recharge. That space can be created by sitting near a water fountain or body of water, sitting in my room watching a favorite show/movie uninterrupted, or driving while listening to music.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I wouldn’t want to disturb anyone’s rest. I believe that everything happens for a reason and most questions I have can be found with whatever they left behind. If my questions cannot be answered, it must mean that I have to figure it out in my own way.

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

I am a poetic, thoughtful, and tenacious singer-songwriter who offers a unique perspective on any story and follows through with action every time. Any agency or brand would be missing on all of that.. and then some.

 

Erin LaBranche

Strategist/Maker/Home Chef
Nashville, TN

IG: @erinl613

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Spinning my wheels isn’t productive, so my sure-fire way to break out of a rut is by putting my work down and coming back to it later. Sure fire rut-breakers: walking my dog, trying a new recipe, or designing a new craft.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I would love to converse with Hedy Lamarr. As an acclaimed actress and inventor, whose contributions to technology are visible in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies, I would ask “How are you so great at balancing your analytical and creative sides?”.

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

My unique, non-traditional background in the medical field gives me an edge. I am the truly rare hybrid of loving to dig into data/statistics and also loving directing and creating content. I have worked in all facets of advertising from digital/social campaigns, to traditional ads, to developing brand strategies.

 

Ivoree Larkin

27, Multi-Channel Account Planner
Chicago, IL

IG: @mahogany_lovely

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Honestly, the best way I kick a creative block is through baking something new and listening to some of my favorite musical artists. SZA, Kaytranada & Kehlani always has my back.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I would mostly want to bring back Aaliyah. In a world where people often feel the need to put on a persona in order to achieve fame and appear different. What are some words that you told yourself that helped you internalize that being genuinely you was more than enough?

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

They would miss out on my unpredictability yet curiosity. I'm always up to something just off the strength of pure curiosity. Just when you think you've figured me out in one lane I will pop up in another and will actually succeed in it.

 

Justis Malker

20, Student/Artist
Los Angeles, CA

IG: @fiendsushi

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Reading — preferably a good history book. Who isn't inspired by the past and the lessons that are to be learned from it?

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

Richard Pryor. I would ask him "how do you personify everything you touch, including your own trauma? How do you repurpose such painful experiences into comedic gold?"

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

I’m an excellent storyteller and they say that storytelling is the real through line that strings successful people together. It also connects us to our humanity, links us to our past, and provides a glimpse into our future — a future I plan on having a significant influence in.

 

Chanel Miller

30, Production Designer
Oakland, CA

chanelmiller.com

IG: @chanelwestside

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

My creative blocks come about when I have too many things on my mind at once. All it takes is Jhene Aiko’s Protection Mantra and for me to take a few moments to realign my thoughts and free my mind of clutter. This, followed by some afrobeats gets me goin’!

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

I’d bring my aunt back. She worked for Ford Aerospace in Palo Alto as an electrical engineer in the 1970’s. In a predominantly white male profession, I’d ask, “What inspired you to go so hard when it was so rare for a Black woman to be working in that industry?"

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

Any agency or brand would be crazy not to be interested in me because I’m always exploring new avenues to do what they do best, visually communicate. They’d miss out on my vibrant personality and fresh and forward-looking style combined with the precision of my production design background.

 

Skylar Pendergrass

Senior Creative Strategist
Santa Monica, CA

IG: @saltandfreckles

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Cooking and reading are my proven methods for breaking out of a creative rut. Both require full attention and also a little creativity — this combination allows me to truly clear my mind and shake whatever might be holding me back from finalizing a creative project.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

My great-great-aunt Charlotta Bass was the first Black woman to run for Vice President in 1952. If given the opportunity I would revive her and ask, “What do you think of the state of America today?”

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

A foundation in strategy and media means my creative ideas are original, clever and salable. My superpower is eliminating the legwork that is usually required to make a creative idea fit into a brand strategy. Overall, my creative approach marries the left and right brain, soothing the tension that usually exists between both worlds.

 

Katherine Stewart

20, Model/Photographer
Fayetteville, AR

IG: @kst3wart_100

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

Whenever I get a creative block I usually take my little brother with me on an adventure around my city to find new and innovative spots for me to have photoshoots at. He is my model and my city is my muse until I get my creative spark back!

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

Rather than choosing someone who has passed away, I would love to speak with Zendaya. Not only because she is a model, but she is a black woman making a change in the fashion industry. On the other hand, I get my inspiration from my mother. She is a single mom with two kids and still manages to run her own business and show her kids how to work for the finer things in life!

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

I feel that any agency would be interested in what I have to offer for the sole purpose that I think outside of the box. In 2020 there aren’t too many people that use their creativity to make something that forces people to think outside of their comfort zone. In most of what I do with my creativity I try to get comfortable doing things that make most others uncomfortable.

 

Cedric A. Thurman

23, Account Executive/Photographer/Visual Artist
Chicago, IL

cathurman-photography.com/

IG: @_thurman_

 

How do you get your creative groove back when you're stuck in a rut?

My methods for breaking a creative block are to go for bike rides, listen to music and watch powerful films. Sometimes to clear your mind, you need to relax and enjoy yourself. I love to ride bikes so that fresh air and a nice ride can get my mind right.

If you could resurrect an inspirational person from the past to ask them a single question, who would it be and what what would be the question?

Bob Marley. I'd ask him; ”How can we as humans come together as one to help, uplift, and love each other?” A lot of the problems we deal with as people could be solved if we worked together. I'd like some guidance from him on how to make this happen.

Why would the advertising world be crazy not to bring you on? What do you bring to them?

I bring a creative and unapologetically Black perspective along with a broad range of experiences including film and TV productions, PR for global brands, art direction, and photography/videography. They would lose out on someone who is passionate about creating work that sparks meaningful conversation and authentically connects to people.

 

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