Next Creative Leaders 2022: Sofia Rosell

By Laurel Stark Posted on Dec 13, 2022

"I am competitive by nature so tapping into what others are creating reminds me to push myself, because at the end of the day, I’m just getting started."

Every year around this time, we announce a new class of Next Creative Leaders. And as the Co-Founder, I get the honor of reflecting on and finding the words to introduce you to our latest class. Over the past eight years, Next Creative Leaders has come to mean talent and impact to me. But this year, the word that is circling our 2022 class is legacy. We highlighted a handful of our winners this year so you could learn more about them as individuals and read their stories.

Sofia Rosell
Associate Creative Director at GUT Agency, Miami


Miami, Florida


Miami, Florida


What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?

I didn’t have a tweet to my name when I joined my first agency as a junior art director. So when my creative directors at the time, Ricardo Casal and Juan Peña, invited my partner, Melusi Mhlungu, and I to compete in the Cannes Young Lions competition that year, I was shocked.. But my shock quickly turned into determination. From the very start, their belief in me made all the difference. We won the US Hispanic portion of the competition and were sent to Cannes a few months later. Not only was it within the first few months of my career, but also it was the first time I was truly exposed to what advertising had to offer. Needless to say, that experience changed the course of my life.

When you think about the future of creativity, what gets you the most excited?

At the end of the day, people are what make the ideas. Whether the ideas are big or small, we are the ones that create them. So to have truly original, powerful, insightful, creative work – you know, all the things – we need to have as many different perspectives as possible. It’s pivotal. I’m so excited to be part of an era in advertising where we’re celebrating those perspectives and inviting them to not only be heard but also to have a seat at the table.

What’s the story behind your switch from Art to Copy?

Simple story, actually. Writing has always been my best friend ever since my awkward, little left hand could pick up a pen. However, with no writing job prospects out of college, I took the first paid gig I could get – an Art Director Internship in Miami, Florida. That internship led me to my first professional job in advertising as a Junior Art Director. For the next few years, I developed my craft and fell in love with all the beautiful nuances within art direction. It wasn’t until I met Brynna Aylward, my creative director at the time, that I finally let myself hear the voice inside me begging to write. She knew I wanted to write without me even having to tell her. And she knew I had it in me to do it. Thanks to her and the support of the entire team at GUT, I was able to make the switch and go on to produce my third Super Bowl commercial the following year – my first one as a writer.

How did your family shape you as a creative?

What can I say? I owe everything I am to my big, fat, Cuban family. As the grandchild of four Cuban exiles, I grew up with a very clear understanding of just how precious an idea can be. Many of my aunts, uncles, and my grandparents had to leave everything they ever loved behind, because the freedom to have their own ideas was taken from them. Now, years later, my siblings, cousins, and I are the product of their sacrifices. They taught me what true work ethic looks like. They taught me that working a job I love is a gift, and one that should never be taken for granted. Without them, I am not sure where I’d be today.

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

I’m most proud of my work called, “A Little Help From A Bud.” It was a simple project– secret bathroom posters we put in women’s restrooms at bars to give them a safe way to leave if they were feeling unsafe or harassed. It will always be my favorite project for a few reasons: Whenever you get to do work that comes from a personal place, it just hits different. The idea was for Budweiser, a brand I had dreamed of working on my entire life. And it was my first ever Cannes Lions, and I’ll never forget the feeling of winning that award and hugging the team as we realized it had been successful.

If you could wave your magic wand and fix one thing about our industry, what would it be?

I wish I could magically fix the gap between the number of creative women that start in the industry and the number of creative women that grow in the industry. I am surrounded by such talented creative women in the initial stages of their careers. Their ideas are unmatched, and each and every one of them has a different perspective to bring to the table. It is electrifying to witness. I know the same can be said for so many creative women in agencies all over the world. As we grow together in the industry, my hope is to see us rise to those director and C-Suite levels, and my magical wand’s goal is to create a work environment where that is possible.

In a competitive industry and agency, how do you keep raising the bar for yourself?

Every morning I wake up and check out the latest work that’s been done. And every morning, I am surprised. Shocked. Delighted. Inspired. Confused. Angry. Jealous. And absolutely in love. I think that’s one of my favorite parts about this job. When you really start paying attention to the work, you really start seeing just how incredibly smart and creative humanity is. I am competitive by nature so tapping into what others are creating reminds me to push myself, because at the end of the day, I’m just getting started.

"I am competitive by nature so tapping into what others are creating reminds me to push myself, because at the end of the day, I’m just getting started."

What’s your personal recipe for battling burnout?

A glass of white wine and seeing my family and friends outside of advertising. I try to find time to spend with people from different career paths and experiences whenever I can because they always remind me that my job is not the end all be all, and give me the perspective I need. It reminds me that I don’t need to sweat the small stuff. They also give me some of the best ideas, because at the end of the day, we’re talking to people outside of advertising. Plus, making plans with them requires me to have commitments that I can’t miss, which requires me to build boundaries, and just like that, burnout becomes avoided. I love my friends and am very grateful for them.

What are your “must visits” in Miami to find creative inspiration?

Any Cuban “ventanita” you can get to. They’re pretty much on every other block throughout the city, and these small coffee shops are like windows into my soul. It’s the perfect place to hear a different perspective than your own, smell something delicious that brings you joy, or be as loud as you want because everyone else there is louder. These ventanitas are reminders of who I am and where my family came from, so if anything, they bring me peace.

What made you apply to Next Creative Leaders?

Brynna Aylward. I didn’t know what this was until I met her three years ago. Without her, I don’t know where I’d be today. I remember the first time I applied and wasn’t selected, Brynna reminded me that if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Now, on my third try, I am here. I studied the winners before me, I knew the kind of work that needed to be done, and I went for it. I applied again this year because if I was chosen, I wanted to tell the women around me (and the ones reading this) that it may seem impossible to be someone on a list like this, but that’s just not true. It is SO tangible. You just have to let yourself try.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The person that controls their breath, controls the room. I used to forget to breathe as a child– you can ask my Mom, I swear. I would hold my breath while I was talking until I ran out of oxygen and lost all sound in my voice. I still have a raspy voice to this day because of it. It’s because I had so much to say at a young age, and I wanted to get it out as fast as possible, so I would forget to breathe. Once my cousin told me, “The person that controls their breath, controls the room,” I was finally able to understand why breathing in between my thoughts was important. It wasn’t just because it kept me alive, but it kept me strong. When you control your breath, you can control how you think, and how you will explain those thoughts to others. Our breath is everything.

If you could go back in time, what would you say to yourself on your first day as a professional creative?

Breathe. You’ve got this.


Check out all the Next Creative Leaders of 2022!



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