What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?
Black Love Is... is a spot for Tinder, directed by Julian Christian Lutz [Director X], featuring Black voices sharing in their own words on what Black love is. It has the feel of a melodic poem and speaks to the soul, regardless of your ethnicity. It is a gorgeous example of content that authentically holds the spirit of the people that are sharing.
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What website(s) do you use most regularly?
It would have to be Google, the originating source to finding the answers to almost any question. Or, at least, a source to see how many people think that they know the answer.
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
Laptops for my nieces and nephews to do online school. The next piece will be a wi-fi extender to strengthen my internet connection. #workingfromhome #4kidsonzoom #everythingelse
What product could you not live without?
Coconut oil, the greatest multi-purpose wonder-product in the world.
What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?
The Quiet Storm, a documentary about the life and mind of Ron Artest, the basketball player. This film is deeply relevant to our current lives (and always has been). It is incredibly important because so many of us are dealing with mental health challenges either personally or within our family/friend groups, and they are not given the support and attention that is needed. Moreover, those of us that bear witness also need support, guidance and an understanding of what is happening beneath the surface. Mental health is real and important and it continues to be overlooked, misunderstood, written off as 'crazy', or something we choose. It is time to be free and safe to talk about this and get it out in the open.
What film do you think everyone should have seen?
I am a lover of documentaries. Waiting For Superman brings clarity and a deep understanding to the effects of the lack of education in this country. This documentary is a revolution. It reveals that our atrophied education system is the root of many problems in our society: incarceration, our health and mortality, public services, systemic racism and much more. It helps see that we are treating the symptoms in our society, not the root cause. The question is; What are we going to do about it? I wish that everyone could see this so that we could come together to rebuild an education system that truly serves our future generations and the world at large.
What’s your preferred social media platform?
Instagram. I really appreciate the ability to simply share stories and images that inspire me. I love that one is able to create a visual environment and to be inspired by the world of others.
What’s your favourite TV show?
Game of Thrones. I love its depiction of the complexities of human relationships and how people struggle with the best and worst in the pursuit of power and love.
What’s your favourite podcast?
The original: This American Life.
What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?
Haven’t been to anything that I would share, however, reading the book Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. Brilliantly revealing.
What’s the most significant change you've witnessed in the industry since I started?
It was in 2014 when I cast a Honey Maid commercial that made headlines. It was one of the first that featured gay, lesbian, interracial and single-parent families. The brand received hundreds of pieces of hate mail, which they beautifully printed out, rolled up and made into a wall-sized piece of art that simply spelled the word 'Love'. Since that project, there has been a consistent request for underrepresented families to be cast in ads. Having raised my child as a single mother, this meant a lot to me. Every child should be able to see themselves represented in advertising.
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Do you think that the industry is moving in the right direction in terms of increasing diversity?
The industry is definitely moving in the right direction. Biases have been fortified for hundreds of years and it won’t transform into full inclusion and equity overnight. There is an enormous, yet nuanced, difference between inclusion and being included. We have a lot to learn about ourselves and our programming, and we have to be willing to do the work to transform our habitual mindsets. This is a marathon and not a sprint, and it’s important that we have patience and acceptance for where we are and continue to commit to change. That said, I am overjoyed to be alive at this very time in history.
With regards to increasing diversity of the ad industry, if there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
The change that I would most love to see is more authentic stories being told in advertising for people of color and all underrepresented groups. I would love to see these ideas come from the soul of those who live and breathe the culture. It’s a powerful, yet nuanced, distinction that is felt on a cellular level when achieved.
Who or what has most influenced your career?
Casting director Dan Bell shared his passion with me for real-people casting. He has been my mentor and champion since day one. He enabled me to fulfil the dream of working in advertising in such a way that included connecting with people at the deepest level, which is at the root of my happiness.
Tell us one thing about yourself that people don’t know.
I adopted my brother’s four teenage kids this year: Aaliyah (12), Allahta (13), Lorenzo (14) and Elijuhel (16). It’s an enormous shift that I have embraced along with all the shifts brought by this unprecedented time in history. I learn and grow every day within this new role.