Throughout my career I have to sought to create meaningful work in this world. To put out ideas that actually make a positive impact. When a brief hasn’t lent itself to that, I’ve taken it upon myself to deliver on it. One of my entries, Underheard in New York, was a pro bono project that didn’t come from our clients. At every agency I’ve been a part of from Droga 5 to Wieden + Kennedy to BBH, I’ve actively pitched ideas internally for causes that I care about.
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve sought to make my work compelling and purposeful by telling stories of the underrepresented. In an Equinox Commit to Something billboard, for example, I showed a real woman––not a model––with a double mastectomy owning her scars in a powerful way. I was honored when the 3% Movement, and the Athena Film Festival awarded it as one of its only five awards for creative advertising that depicts strong, bold women from all walks of life. In another campaign for Equinox, I showcased three undeniably powerful deaf high school female cheerleaders whose commitment was palpable. To further support equality, I created a film for Pride month that garnered over eight million views––it expanded the current LGBTQA acronym from 6 to 26 letters to encompass humans of every love, gender, non-gender and sexual orientation out there.
But diverse and impactful ideas are only a portion of the work required from someone trying to influence diversity in an agency. I’ve had to ask myself how can I grow as a person and mentor those around me.
Six months ago, I participated in the Courageous Conversations, a two-day immersive seminar for effectively engaging, sustaining and deepening interracial dialogue. I was impacted by it deeply, and realized that as a creative there is more I could do to better represent people of color in my work. My learnings have permeated and reshaped the way I think about ideas, audiences and casting.
Lastly, I personally try to engage leadership in big and small ways:
At the office, I’m currently a mentor to two female interns who are trying to make a breakthrough and I couldn’t love helping them more. I’ve been nourishing their ideas and giving them career advice. Not just how to get a job, but also how to negotiate as a powerful woman. More than anything, I’ve encouraged them to look at their gender as a positive asset to the industry––an ace up their sleeves––a way to feel powerful and valued amid the notorious boys club.
I’ve also been a mentor and guest teacher at Miami Ad School on two occasions. As part of the program, I taught a week-long intensive class where the brief I gave to the students was to “do something good famously.” A way for students to think about corporate social responsibility and advertising that can be fulfilling and impactful.
In smaller ways, I provide leadership to aspiring students who reach out to me. I remember once being a student myself and how infrequently I would get responses back to emails––so I personally make it a point to not only write back, but to be generous with my time by inviting students to speak over the phone or at Wieden’s offices. Advertising can be a cliquey and closed industry, so paying it forward is an important pillar for me.