What advice would you give your younger self?
Something that I talk about a lot is the need to be your full self at work. If you’re busy trying to be someone you’re not, someone other people expect to see, then you aren’t putting everything you have into work. Instead, you’re putting everything into presenting as someone you aren’t. If this is a requirement of employment, seek something new. You deserve it.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Coming out is too obvious of an answer and should never be considered a risk, so I’ll say leaving media to work on the client side and manage content. It was the right move at the right time, allowing me to engage a new passion at work. It also allowed me to begin dabbling in public speaking and meet some incredible people. While the three years I was away from the agency world certainly delayed my career growth, it allowed me the opportunity to learn the language our clients use, one that, far too often, many of those who have been agency lifers have never been exposed to.
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing and why?
I‘m already doing it! I joke about how I have both a day job and a gay job where I focus on advocacy and the visibility of my communities, as well as the importance of positive representation. My friends often ask when I sleep, and the true answer is not often enough. If I wasn’t doing those things though, I’d most certainly double down on comedy, which is one of the few things I take time to do for myself. I love the art of performing on stage and leveraging my own trauma to both educate others while making space to heal within myself.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
I have three thoughts on this. The first and most obvious answer is to pay us our value. The pay gap is real and it’s one of the unfortunate truths that really spotlights the value far too many in leadership place on those who historically haven’t been given opportunities. The second is not to expect us to code switch. Don’t ask us to abandon our humanity to manage and lead like our male counterparts. Don’t be uncomfortable when we are assertive. Learn to recognize that we are not intimidating. And, finally, we need to put out work that speaks authentically to audiences that we are looking to hire. We can’t honestly believe that anyone will think our industry has evolved if the work we are continuing to do ignores, tokenizes, misrepresents or erases others. We need to show that we care about the communities we hope to hire with our work, decisions and dollars. I believe these are all required to attract talent to the industry and for others to see our obvious potential and hire us for the roles we’ve always deserved whether as a woman, person of color, or any other minority candidate.