Diversity, Inclusion & Storytelling with Our New Content Producer
There are many things which inspire and motivate me as a creative thinker. Most often, this inspiration comes in the form of wanting to learn or experience something new, and then share this new knowledge with others. I think most often I’m inspired by stories and what it takes to make a good one.
A good story is a blend of truth, tangibility, and relatability. A great story is one that stands the test of time and allows others to see themselves within, which creates a connection. For me, inspiration is fused with experience which is then linked with knowledge, and the three move together seamlessly. The more I do, the more I experience. The more I experience, the more I’m inspired. The more I’m inspired, the more I want to share my knowledge. The more knowledge I have to share, the more I want to experience, and then start the process all over again.
As a creative content producer at 5IVE, I’m excited to dive into every project and learn something new everyday. It could be a new perspective, a way of thinking, or changing the narrative on how we view, interact with, or listen to others, but the learning, and the opportunity to apply this new knowledge is inspiring to me personally, as well as professionally. I get to use my mind in ways I didn’t think possible. I feel like my mind is my greatest asset, so to find new and exciting ways to use my creativity, imagination, and knowledge is a real gift.
My journey to the role I have today is not traditional. One of the real “A-ha” moments I’ve had so far at 5IVE was during a brainstorming session. As we all sat around the table tossing ideas back and forth, it occurred to me I was sitting at that table because someone wanted to hear what I have to say. My voice as an older woman of color actually means something to someone. People are interested in my perspective and ideas. I’m in a place where free thought and free speech are not only necessary, but encouraged. This is refreshing, exciting, and still a little intimidating because so often we are taught not to rock the boat or make waves, and yet here we are, in this environment, rocking the boat and making waves. Everyone brings their distinctive voice and experience to the table because everyone is valued, equal, and unique.
To work at an agency led by an immigrant woman in a traditionally male-dominated field is exciting, because the defenses are down. I don’t have to explain my point of view because it’s already understood on a basic level. How can one invest in diversity and inclusion if one doesn’t see the value in that investment?
You know, many industries and businesses talk about inclusion and diversity, but very few make those actionable words. For someone with no prior agency experience, at 5IVE, I have found a place where my lack of industry experience is an actual asset. Here I’m asked to apply my lived experience and not be locked into a rigid role, certain patterns of thinking, or industry perceptions.
I know what it feels like to be devalued, disrespected, and disregarded, not only as a woman, but as a person of color. Perhaps these stigmas and prejudices would change if diversity and inclusion were the norm in the creative industry and not a special part of the hiring process. If more people like me could see themselves reflected in agency teams, the more we could be driven by the universal connectedness of our diverse experiences and ideas, rather than our differences.
As a storyteller, I want people to feel a strong human connection and desire to see everyone do well because we all feel better when we see others succeed. As a creative, I want inclusivity and diversity to be a way of life that inspires positive change in our community and daily points of interaction, and not just a set of words with no meaning behind them. As a creative, I want others to feel they can tap into their own wisdom and help create a shared experience where we all have a vested interest in the betterment of each other.
My advice to the next generation of creatives? I would tell younger creatives, and in particular women and those from marginalized communities who are trying to carve their creative careers – never give up on your dreams or your ideas. These belong to you, and you alone, and it’s up to you to make sure you stay true to who you are in your core. Along with decency and respect, that’s part of our responsibility to ourselves and humanity. No one has cornered the market on dreams, and that includes yours. Make sure nothing gets in the way of you pursuing the life you want. Sacrifices are inevitable, but regret doesn’t have to be. Only you are in charge of your happiness.
As creatives, it’s our duty to try and unify people. Our opportunities lie in our ability to be sympathetic and vulnerable and our capacity to hold safe spaces for the people we are trying to reach. Avoid judgment and allow the narrative to speak for itself. As a creative, I refuse to live by the “Us VS Them” mentality. I embrace the “Us” approach because there are many people who don’t feel like they belong on either side and instead, are still left marginalized and voiceless.
At 5IVE, we work with brands who seek to change perceptions, break barriers, and defy the status quo. As creatives, storytellers, and content creators, we have unique opportunities to make as many people feel valued and included as possible. As a content producer, I know that it can be hard for people to engage with complex issues unless it’s something that touches them on a personal level. The thing with complex issues is they are rarely neutral. For me, the role of storytelling is to weave the threads of commonalities so we may find a bit of ourselves reflected therein. When that happens, we can start to relate and become emotionally invested because we’ve begun to care.
I think storytelling is never going to be irrelevant, because the desire to find and maintain connections is at the core of human nature. One thing which has become glaringly obvious to me during this pandemic is we all long to feel connected. Phone calls and video chats have become the only way many of us can communicate with our loved ones, and many of us didn’t know how much we needed that human connection until the only option available for us was the remote one. As I look ahead, I know that the need for more relevant and authentic stories is greater than ever before and I’m thankful to be working on projects that challenge the status quo and keep us connected.