The Talk

Nedal Ahmed: No Apologies

By Alixandra Rutnik on Aug 07, 2020

"My wish for Black women is to have the space to be their full and true selves, unapologetically."


Next Creative Leaders is all about highlighting the talented women and non-binary creatives in our industry who are thriving in their careers, and lucky for you the deadline to submit your work just got extended through August 10. While the competition has always been global in scope, this year we're taking steps to make it even more so, by introducing new regional recognition to the top winners from various parts of the world.

Nedal Ahmed is one of the 2018 Next Creative Leaders winners and she recently made a career move (yes, in the middle of the pandemic) to Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam as a Senior Creative. Nedal's work is timeless and we were so happy to talk with her about the impact her creativity has had and continues to have in our social lives.


Since winning Next Creative Leaders in 2018, you made a transatlantic move from Droga5 in NYC to 72andSunny in Amsterdam. Now you’re at Wieden+Kennedy! Amsterdam is an amazing city, how has your transition from the US to the Netherlands been?

Amsterdam is a very expat-friendly city. I tried to put in the effort and took Dutch classes, but everyone insists on speaking to me in English, so overall it’s a fairly smooth transition– minus the biking, that was tough for me. It’s been great to work with people from so many different countries and I would say the process is more collaborative than it is in the US which has both benefits and drawbacks, but it’s been good to experience new ways of working. I’d say the most frustrating thing so far has been starting at W+K remotely in the middle of a global pandemic, but it’s also kind of cool in a way.

When you were named one of 2018’s Next Creative Leaders, one of the projects you submitted was “The Talk,” a powerful piece you helped create for P&G. In recent weeks, it would seem that Black people have had to give “the talk” to the whole world, including our advertising industry. What sort of changes are you seeing for BIPOC, even from the vantage point of Amsterdam?

It’s interesting thinking about “The Talk” in the context of today. When the ad came out in 2017, it was “controversial” and “divisive.” People put up change.org petitions to boycott P&G for race-baiting. There were a lot of Blue Lives Matter groups that were offended by it. It was always a pretty gentle and grounded film. Even tame, and I love that by today’s standards it’s even more so. I think it’s a testament to how quickly things can change when the right conversations and momentum are happening. We went from people being upset about this ad to communities starting to defund the police.

"By no means am I saying that we have made enough progress, but I optimistically look at how far we’ve come in just a few years and it gives me hope for the work that’s ahead."

By no means am I saying that we have made enough progress, but I optimistically look at how far we’ve come in just a few years and it gives me hope for the work that’s ahead. As a Black woman, I’ve certainly felt more responsibility and even expectation to continue to educate people, and that’s something I think Black people in all industries or in general are feeling. I’m also seeing more white and nonblack POC people sharing the load, and that’s what we need more of right now. These conversations are definitely happening in Amsterdam and in Europe, and it’s important that people here understand that this is not an America only problem– especially when Black people globally benefit from the work and sacrifice of Black Americans.

What is the best project you have worked on in the past two years and why?

A couple of summers ago, I shot a Chase US Open spot with Serena Williams at Droga5 about her return to tennis as a mother. I always admired Serena, but throughout this process, I fell in love with her. She’s an amazing combination of strength and sensitivity, softness and hardness, and femininity and ferocity. She’s certainly fought for it and she’s certainly been penalized for it, but she’s an incredibly multifaceted Black woman. My wish for Black women is to have the space to be their full and true selves, unapologetically.

"My wish for Black women is to have the space to be their full and true selves, unapologetically."

How do you link what you’re passionate about with your work?

I think the work I’m most well known for so far, like “The Talk,” deals with social issues and it’s important for me to create work that can start conversations, especially work where nuance is key. I also want to make inspiring, innovative, or just silly work, so I’ll continue to try and diversify my work as much as I can.

What piece of advice would you like to give to the women and non-binary creatives who are applying to NCL this year?

Don’t feel like you have to embody an existing idea of what a “Next Creative Leader” is and sell yourself based on that. This is the time to be true to yourself, to your work, and to your perspective. The jury is looking for the “next” leaders, so don’t try to fit into an old mold.

"The jury is looking for the “next” leaders, so don’t try to fit into an old mold."

NEDAL AHMED PORTFOLIO

NEDAL AHMED'S NEXT CREATIVE LEADERS 2018 PORTFOLIO

 


Are you a talented woman or non-binary person with creative work to share? You should enter Next Creative Leaders! The final deadline to enter is August 10.

ENTER NEXT CREATIVE LEADERS NOW!

 

Title

The Talk

Agency

Nedal Ahmed

Client

P&G

Annual ID

NCL18_006

Category

2018 Next Creative Leaders: Next Creative Leaders

Title

Mama Said Knock You Out

Agency

Nedal Ahmed

Client

Chase

Annual ID

NCL18_007

Category

2018 Next Creative Leaders: Next Creative Leaders

Title

One Good Reason

Agency

Nedal Ahmed

Client

CVS

Annual ID

NCL18_008

Category

2018 Next Creative Leaders: Next Creative Leaders

Title

Love Notes

Agency

Nedal Ahmed

Client

Humana

Annual ID

NCL18_009

Category

2018 Next Creative Leaders: Next Creative Leaders

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