A few defining moments are from earlier in my career when someone in a position of power would go out of their way to create space for me to speak up. Especially as a young designer, I used to struggle carving out a seat at the table for myself. The managers that asked for my opinion or gave credit to my specific contributions in front of executive clients were impactful. Beyond feeling seen and heard, it made me feel that my work was appreciated and valued.
Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?
Representation is so important! Apart from the 8 years that I lived in Seoul, I have lived my entire life in the US where stories have been predominantly white-centric. Public figures and stories in the entertainment space can have a huge influence on feeling a sense of belonging to society because their audiences are so large. However, individual and industry-level career stories are particularly powerful as they give me hope to break glass, bamboo, and other ceilings.
Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and in your industry?
It all ladders up to representation and ultimately a sense of belonging. I grew up in suburban New York flipping through magazines and aside from Devon Aoki, I never saw a face that looked like it was from my community. Now that I have a voice at the table when it comes to the faces that are featured in nationwide campaigns and sourcing production talent to capture that content, it’s exciting because I have an opportunity to seek and hire diverse talent from underrepresented communities.
Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?
There’s a balance between speaking up for your ideas and advocating for yourself, but also being humble. Unless you want to be on an island without a team or a professional support system, egos don’t leave a very good long-lasting impression. It’ll feel tough in the beginning, like you don’t have a lot of decision-making power, but if you find the right leadership that creates space for individual voices rather than taking credit for themselves, stick close to them and distance yourself from the latter. It’s ok to walk away from toxic culture.