And so begins the day of celebrity speakers.
We kicked the morning off with Anna Winter who was was very interesting and inspiring. She urged the audience to aim higher, dare to be different, use all our gold, and make interesting friends. She reenforced the idea that moving forward and changing is much better than just moving up. She is so smart and accomplished and it was truly amazing to get to see her speak in person. She has accomplished so many things in her lifetime and made touched the lives of so many people across every single industry. It was truly an honor to get to hear her two cents.
Next we got to see Will Smith speak. He said the only mission statement worth having is to improve lives and that people can honestly tell when you've thought about them in your work and that consideration for your audience really shows. He also said the most important thing to do is to live by your values. He was very funny and lively in person and it was very cool to get to hear from a different type of innovator who's talent based career has given him a wide breadth of knowledge about creative industries. Sometimes celebrities can be disappointing. But in this case, he was everything I had built him up in my mind to be. Funny, smart, personable, and well spoken. He proves that actors are truly artists and innovators just like anyone else in the creative industry.
Next we saw a talk between Shelley Zalis and Linda Yaccarino of the Girl's Lounge and SNL ladies Aidy Bryant, Vanessa Bayer, and Cecily strong discussing women's equality. Vanessa said something that stood out to me, "trust your instincts; don't only do what you think you're supposed to be doing." She reminded me to go after things you actually love and enjoy rather than what you think you should be doing career wise.
Next, we saw Ryan Seacrest interviewing Usher about his creative process. Usher urged us to find a good mentor to lean on for advice and to keep working for your vision and that if you really believe in your idea, eventually someone else will too. Both guys were funny and exciting to listen to because they've both had such successful and innovative careers despite taking vastly different paths. The only real downside to the speech is that we were front row and could barely see or hear because of the hoard of paparazzi clustered by the stage. It was frustrating because this is supposed to be an educational and professional environment where top tier creatives come to share ideas and inspire one another and those photographers turned it into a press zoo. I'm honestly shocked the festival staff allowed that to happen. It sort of distracted from the intimacy of getting to hear influential people talk in such a laid back setting but it was interesting nonetheless. At then end we shouted Go Dawgs and Seacrest shouted it back.
Later that afternoon, we walked to a nearby hotel to meet Oliver Stone. While we were waiting, we talked to a Grady grad who now works for Wieden and Kennedy. He was very funny and helpful and he reminded me of my long term goal to make ads for Nike. Up until this trip, I didn't know much about how agencies worked, and it was very helpful to learn that most big brands don't really do their own branding, someone else does. So maybe a goal wouldn't be to try and get a job at a big company like that, but for the agency that works for them. It got me thinking about a lot and about how that might be a possible place I'd like to work hard to apply for. This year I want to really develop my portfolio with all types of different work, including videos and writing and fake brand redesigns. I just want to show people that I have lots of cool ideas, even if I don't fully know how to execute them yet. When Oliver got there, he talked a little about himself and then opened the floor to questions. He insight was interesting because he's been in the film industry a long time and worked with a lot of people. He told me if I ever wanted to work in film to meet a lot of people and try to get jobs in places where the industry is prevelant and make connections. He talked about how film was moving way from truth, but somehow I find that taking artistic license with the truth and manipulating a story to make it flow better and appear more beautiful is an art form in and of itself.