BAME creatives we want to learn from – By KRAK intake
BAME creatives we want to learn from
In light of the events of the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reflecting on the role our school, and the wider advertising industry, has to play in creating an equal world for BAME creatives.
At SCA we learn from industry leaders every week. But when so few of those leaders are people of colour, how can a cohort of students where people of colour make up over a fifth of the intake expect to feel optimistic and ambitious about the industry we’re venturing into?
Aside from a notable handful of brilliant creative minds, there are so few people of colour at the top of the advertising tree.
But maybe we’re looking up the wrong tree.
Sure, it’s great to take inspiration from D&AD annuals, but the best adverts reflect the world we live in. So the best advertisers should be looking everywhere for their inspiration.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of BAME talent with creative minds we’d love to squeeze for inspiration. Influential people from the worlds of advertising, literature, art, design, music, film, sport, politics and science.
If you’re on this list at least one of us thinks you’re brilliant, and we reckon the rest of our cohort would think so too. Please reach out if you’d feel like coming in and inspiring the next generation of creative talent.
My creative inspiration: Roy Williams
I had the pleasure of being welcomed into playwright Roy’s house when I was a touring actor. He served up a delicious lunch and even better conversation. For my money, he’s up there as one of the best storytellers in the country. His play Death of England was just put on at The National Theatre to massive acclaim. Roy writes real, earthy, believable characters. Characters you want to hug. Characters you want to punch in the face. I’d love to hear about how he gets into the souls of the people he writes and then take his wisdom to the table next time I’m writing a script.
My creative inspiration: Otegha K. Uwagba
I don’t know where to start. First of all Otegha wrote one of my favourite books, “The little black book” which is a career guide for women and the best I’ve seen to date on this subject. In addition she founded WomenWho, which empowers women and supports them in networking and their careers. She used to work in advertising before she became a freelancer. I think she’d be brilliant in teaching us, much more than just selling. Otegha is never afraid to speak out, especially when it comes to how minorities are treated in adland and beyond. Her tweets make me uncomfortable sometimes. I enjoy that and would love to learn from her.
My creative inspiration: Amie Snow (and her partner Yolanta Boti)
Amie is a creative at Ogilvy co-founded “Ogilvy roots”, which champions cultural and ethical diversity within the industry. Aside from her helping make the industry more diverse and providing an in for BAME creatives. She is also a great creative and was named one of the British arrows “Talents of tomorrow”. Aime did not traditionally get into advertising, her talents are varied and her views, perspectives and approach to briefs are different from the traditional cookie-cutter creative. She is cool, badass and just a force to be reckoned with.Her untraditional route to advertising and her work in the industry makes her the perfect person to have in.
My creative inspiration: Lemn Sissay
Lemn Sissay is a writer and a poet. He grew up in care of the state and has rewritten the narrative of his own life story in his book My Name is Why, overtaking that given in the care records of the state. He is very generous in his online presence and
interaction. His writing speaks to me as about resistance, poignancy in time and place, and has moments of joy.
Quotes from a recent webinar:
“I’m not a confident person but I believe in my writing.” “A good writer is a good reader first.” “Work on the writing. And work on yourself. Those two things.” “If you enjoy a book, people will so often think it is easy to do.” [On poems] “They’re like your children. They’re not me; they’re a thing I’ve been lucky enough to be part of their creation.“ “It’s like making an emperor’s cloak…you know what threads you dropped.” “The great thing about creativity is the more you engage in it, the more creative you get.” “Isolation is part of what it is to be a writer.” “It’s all about working with other people” “Choose your battle – where you want to make change…Then do it!” “It’s no longer good enough to get your book deal. Who are you and what is the change you are going to make?” “I’ve done a lot of research for the poem but it won’t come in time for the deadline. That’s just a fact of life.”
My creative inspiration: Carl Pope
Carl Pope is an American artist. I first discovered his work at the Whitney 2 years ago. I have always appreciated art but never has it moved me. Carls ‘The greatest hits of the New York police’ had me crying in an art gallery, others too. I find it inspiring on how his work is based off lived truth and how well he tells that truth and story in his art.
My creative inspiration: Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter is an incredible costume designer that has had an outstanding 30 year career. This includes three Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design. Firstly for Spike Lee’s biographical Malcolm X (1992) and then Steven Spielberg’s
historical drama Amistad (1997). For me though Ms. Carter’s most exceptional portrayal was for her Oscar winning representation of afrofuturism in Black Panther (2018). Taking inspiration from a range of African tribes, such as the Maasai to create an exceptionally imaginative, yet completely realistic on screen depiction of Wakanda. This is a great demonstration of how far you can push ideas when they are founded in truth and that attention to detail makes all the difference.
My creative inspiration: Jamie Adengua
You may know him as JME, part of the Grime crew Boy Better Know, but Jamie Adenuga came on my radar with his sharp lyricism and brain-stretching beats, at an age when I was religiously reading the NME and listening to guitar bands that all sounded the same. From high brow (‘Nostradamus couldn’t see me, Expelliarmus couldn’t stop me’) to slightly lower (‘Left hook, top lip sweller, Wobbly tooth, bare Bonjela”) the guy’s got words for every occasion.
My creative inspiration: Oriel Davis-Lyons
I realised that I might like advertising fairly late into this year when someone showed as a black pencil winning idea. It was for a radio station. A radio station for dogs. That you could get the highest accolade in your profession for writing a radio segment called “Where is the ball really?” blew my mind and I read all about it. I discovered the copywriter behind it was Oriel and that he just had the most amazing career. Colenso, then Droga and RGA in New York, and now Spotify. I want to know how you be funny in two different hemispheres.
My creative inspiration: Lolly Adefope
Lolly is a character comedian and actress. The first time I saw her live was when she performed at a gig I used to run. The characters she played were just so funny. Her performance is full of energy and she’s clearly very observant. I saw her full hour in Edinburgh in 2016 and it was one of the only shows I gave a standing ovation for. I think she could teach us a lot about how to observe others, and to take what we learn and use it in our advertising. I reckon she’s fantastic at writing personas!
My creative inspiration: SoYeon, leader of (G)I-dle
SoYeon is short (like me) but her creativity and courage is amazing. She is the producer of many title tracks of (G)I-dle. The concepts used in those tracks are very different from each other, they also stand out a lot to other kpop songs as most of them stem from sexy or cute concepts. Soyeon is also a brilliant rapper and not afraid to drop honorifics in a rap battle with seniors. I think she’s a good example of someone truly passionate about her job.
My creative inspiration: Ken Nwadiogbu
Ken Nwadiogbu is an artist and activist. I found his work through another artist that I follow, Kelvin Okafor. He speaks about gender equality, Black power and African culture. His creations reflect everyday struggles with the hope of making changes in communities. His art is very disruptive and because he’s experimental (it’s drawing, collage, paint, photography, sculpture, installation, performance) you don’t know what to expect. I feel like his work challenges the viewer to think and question. I’d be fascinated to learn about his upbringing and how that has informed his artwork.
My creative inspiration: Alonzo King
Alonzo King is a choreographer based in San Francisco and his company is called Lines Ballet. They do predominately contemporary ballet. His company is a case study in taking something as old as time and with each piece reinventing it and adding to it. He is a master at iteration and finding new ways to move a body. You would think we’ve already seen twirls as many different ways as you can see them, until Alonso says “But wait, there’s more!”. I also added this because watching dance is terrific. Personally, I rarely think I “understand” a dance piece so I’ve stopped caring about it. Not having that mental strain to get what’s going on allows me to get caught up in the rhythm and let my brain wander.
My creative inspiration: Denise Cole
Denise Cole is a CD and currently the head of art at Juliet Creative in Toronto, which she co-founded. I had the pleasure of being taught by Denise for a semester when I went to Miami Ad last year in Toronto, and it was definitely the class I looked forward to the most! The class was called Everything is Media and really challenged us to think outside the box with media placement and how to properly execute brand partnerships. Denise had such amazing attention to detail and I’ve tried to carry that same attitude with me to my work at SCA this year.
My creative inspiration: Inua Ellams
Inua is an eclectic writer to say the least about him. I’ve been lucky enough to watch both The Barbershop Chronicles and Three Sisters and I’m just in awe of how Inua is able to encapsulate huge issues within the black diaspora into art. He’s just so clever and moving and touching and fun, there’s such a flare to what he does. He inspires me to find my own lane and just excel at it.
My creative inspiration: Aida Osman
Aida Osman is a comedian, podcaster and tv writer. She is currently a writer for the Netflix show Big Mouth, but I actually found her through listening to the podcast Keep It!, which she co-hosts with Ira Madison and Louis Virtel. Whilst being hilariously funny and clever, she is also extremely observant and open with the culture she takes in. She was raised Muslim and has been open about how it had an impact on what content she was allowed to watch growing up. On her podcast she talks about how she is actively trying to catch up with the pop culture she missed, because she understands the importance of being aware of the world and what is happening in it. It helps her communicate and write for her job which I think is something as advertising students should learn from her.
My creative inspiration: Charlene Chandrasekaran
Charlene is a Creative Director at Droga 5. The work that she makes with her partner Dan Morris inspires me to be a better creative. Ever since I saw the BarclayCard “Crystal Barn” ad, I’ve been admiring her work from afar and I would love to learn from her. The “Crystal Barn” is one of the few ads that I’ve wanted to rewatch and show my non-advertising friends because it’s genuinely entertaining. Her work is quirky, clever, and never falls under the radar.
My creative inspiration: Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley is an American contemporary artist. He’s most famous for his highly naturalistic paintings of black people. He was commissioned to paint a portrait of Barack Obama for the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. I’ve been a huge fan of his work and aesthetic ever since I saw his paintings at an art show in Paris.
My creative inspiration: Arākī (Nobuyoshi Araki)
Nobuyoshi Araki is a 80 year old Japanese photographer and contemporary artist. He blends eroticism, bondage and death together in his photographs/artworks. He shows an unique side of Japanese culture. I came across him when he was having an exhibition in Het Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and have been a big fan since.
My creative inspiration: Nichelle Gainer
Nichelle Gainer is an American writer and speaker, who is mostly known for writing the book Vintage Black Glamour. A coffee table book with rarely seen photographs of some of the most glamorous, inspiring and groundbreaking black women and men from the 20th century. She gives a voice to the neglected black women in history. She is brilliant, inspiring and witty. Absolutely must have!
My creative inspiration: Sonia and Fyza
Sonia and Fyza are sisters from the Middle East and I’ve been following them on Instagram for years. They’re makeup artists who have managed to build up their brand to have recently released a line with Miss Guided and Simmi Shoes. Not only are they makeup artists but they also speak up and promote strong and positive messages about current affairs and their heritage.
My creative inspiration: Thos Robinson
Thos is a fashion and event photograph, he is a visual storyteller based in northern California. What I like about him is that he’ll put some raw material for you to interpret. The description will only explain the scenery without judgement. For me, his pictures are anti bullshit, which is what society needs at the moment.
My creative inspiration: Marvyn Harrison
I had the pleasure of meeting Marvyn at Podge, he was the head of strategy at Hogarth Worldwide at the time. He is also the founder of the Dope Black Dads group that offers support and host events as well as does a weekly podcast with members of this group, discussing a broad range of topics such as current affairs and also what challenges the BAME community may find in the creative industries. His podcasts give me hope that one day I may be able to get myself to a senior level with an Ad Agency.
DJ My creative inspiration: John Ogumuyiwa
I first met John at BFS. I really love his short film Wilson and his inside out tvc. Love that he makes films/ads and shoots his own tvcs. The dude has an eye.
My creative inspiration: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
@ChimamandaReal (IG – much more going on on here) @chimamanda_adichie
OH my goodness Miss Chimamanda is SLAYING it. Author of Half a Yellow Sun, Americanah and Purple Hibiscus, she’s telling and weaving stories like nothing
you’ve ever heard before. Based in Nigeria it opened my eyes to the country, I’m quite well versed in their history now! Also she’s the author of We Should All Be Feminists. Her words are in Beyonce songs- how do you top that? You don’t, and if Queen B knows it’s the shit, it’s the shit.
My creative inspiration: Sharna Jackson
Sharna Jackson is an artistic director at Site gallery in Sheffield and author of some fantastic children’s literature (eg The Highrise Mysteries). I generally think getting kids into art and books is one of the most important feats out there, and it was wonderful stories that turned me into the little creative I am. Sharna tells amazing stories and she does so through the eyes of young black characters who are massively under represented in kids literature. I’d love to listen to her speak about the role of representation in developing creativity and I’d also love to just hear her talk about story telling – something that we should all be aspiring to do better.
My creative inspiration: Naomi Campbell
I admire Naomi Campbell for her sheer grit and resilience. She dedicated her Fashion Icon Award last year to ‘the girl who was always told no.’ Her unapologetic attitude, her self-belief and her strong personality have gotten her to where she is today. Not to mention how extremely versatile she is as a model and how stunning she looks at her age.