Cannes Lions 2022: Issa Rae’s challenge for global adland

Rae was in conversation with Ogilvy's global CCO, Liz Taylor, on day three of the festival

Jun 22, 2022 09:41:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team Share - Share to Facebook

Day three of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity featured writer, producer and actor, Issa Rae, in conversation with Liz Taylor, global chief creative officer, Ogilvy.
The duo discussed biases, which according to Rae continue to exist even though there’s been talk about eliminating them.
“There’s a lot of lip service about changing it, especially after the uprisings. We got to see who held their end of the bargain. For me, it’s about making changes on my end. I now have a mandate to make sure my sets are at least 60% diverse. I can say no to a job if the crew is all white, which happens quite often,” she said.
With that, she threw a challenge to the advertising industry, “Don’t take on a job or a mandate if the crew you’re working with is not diverse. Too often, we task diverse people to spread the message about diversity. Even if you’re a white person working on a film, have these conversations and spread the word. You have to be intentional about making this change,” she added.
Rae recounted a moment when she faced bias early on in her career, which happened during the pilot read for her show Insecure.
“Everybody at HBO was present and it was a lot of pressure for me. After the table read, the president wondered why the show was called Insecure, when there are fearless black women in it. There’s a thought that all black women are shown to be secure and fearless. We were showcasing black women in a way they weren’t portrayed on TV. We had an audience whose eyes were potentially opening,” she said.
She added an example of bias in the world of hairstylists and stated that black women are taught to work on all sorts of hairstyles, while white women may not have to work on all.
That’s when Taylor spoke about Dove’s campaign (created by Ogilvy) that takes on this topic and aims to end race-based hair discrimination.

Creating a cycle
Responding to a question from Taylor about what she’s most proud of in her career, Rae stated that it’s how she has helped other women get opportunities.
She explained, “I think I have helped make a pipeline and give people opportunities on the ground level and have them rise within the industry. Black women don’t get promoted often. To do that from within and give opportunities to others has created a cycle.”
Rae stated that to get people immersed in the experience, one has to be authentic.
She advised content creators to hire locals while shooting in a particular city because they help make the story richer.
“We made a show about living in a specific part of LA. To depict it, we required people who knew the city and understood it. There have been several movies where you watch something and say why is this sign here? It comes to who you hire for the set design. So, we got locals who knew things behind the scenes too.”
Don’t be afraid to be a bitch
Taylor stated that she was intrigued by Rae’s quote – ‘don’t be afraid to be a bitch’ and asked her what her thinking behind it was.
Rae stated that it was about not being afraid to get associated with certain labels.
“It comes from having seen certain people in higher positions label a woman or a creative difficult, because she may have been too critical or demanding. This stuck with me, and I was conscious about not getting that label because once you get it, it stays and it makes it difficult for you to be hired or promoted. I was afraid to get that label until I became a boss and I wanted to hire people of a certain standard, who state what they want and are not apologetic about it. Be a bitch, if it helps you get to the standard that you want,” she surmised.


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