Our Director Youness Benali was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, to Moroccan parents. Being rare not by choice, has been with him as long as he can remember. Over the weekend, Youness attended RARE Global’s leadership masterclass for creative minorities in partnership with D&AD and Sweetshop. Read his inspiring takeaways from the event here in The Stable here:
This year, Sweetshop has partnered with R-LDN, the leadership masterclass for creative minorities in partnership with D&AD and the brainchild of Australian founders, Stefanie DiGianvincenzo, creative director of Cotton On Group’ and Tara McKenty creative director at Google.
Wilf Sweetland, chief executive officer of Sweetshop, commented, “There’s been so much talk about increasing diversity through different means and measures, but we’re still fundamentally missing out on the most important driver of change in all of this – the diverse talent themselves. RARE is the first initiative that’s genuinely taking this issue head on and its values very much mirror Sweetshop’s own. We’re proud to be partnering with them.”
Sweetshop director, Youness Benali, attended RARE. He has written and photographed his experience for The Stable.
Hi, my name is Youness Benali, I have two cats, my favourite video game of all time is Zelda and my partner’s name is Zelda too (not a coincidence). I like to express my deepest emotions and my point of view through the medium of film. Oh, and I’m obsessed with my allotment.
If you think this was a semi-weird opening then hear me out. Prior to today, this is not how I would have started a mini introduction about myself, but after a first session masterclass with Dr David Slocum (Berlin School of Creative Leadership), as part of the R:LDN initiative, I now know that if I want to make a long-lasting impression on people, I’d better start coming up with some creative, interesting and honest points about myself that will make me stand out.
This week we ARE celebrating diversity AT R:LDN (R = Rare). RARE is a two day masterclass held at the D&AD building in Shoreditch for 50 unusual minds, where R:LDN. Its aim is to bring under-represented points of views into the creative world.
Throughout the day, we listen and interact with different speakers who all have one mission – to give us in the RARE community, the tools, the solutions and the opportunity to interact with like-minded rare people. They hope to equip us to shape a new industry in which diversity is not just a box that companies tick off to feel better about themselves, but instead, makes people and companies realise that they have a huge untapped creative resource that is waiting to take on our creative industry and make it a more creative, powerful and successful place for all of us.
It is clear from the onset that R:LDN has our backs and all they want is for us to open our eyes, minds and ears and as a creative community. We’ve all to come together and shape our world the way we want it. From the bottom up. If it’s not OK to be a woman, LGBT, a person of colour, or a person with a disability in a leadership role in today’s world, then we have to create a new reality where inclusion rules.
If difference is the heart of creativity and diversity is the heart of creative leadership, then how come 12% of creative directors are female, 5% of creative directors are BAME, 29% of boards are female, 58% of FTSE boards are 100% white. 60% of disabled people have experienced prejudice at work, 50% of LGBT have experienced bullying at work or that 90% of business is not equipped to support neurodiversity?
After a full day of deep learning we all realised that these figures are scary when you see them in black and white like this, and in this time and age, it’s also sad that this is accepted as the norm.
But there is hope, and that hope is US (!), we learned. You and me, black or white, female or male, LGBT or straight, a person with a disability or not. All of us will shape this world into a better more diverse place, and Marie Reig Florensa and her super-(word-of-the-day)-contagious-positive-energy speech, literally lit the fire underneath all of us to go out and make our world better!
After day one there is so much to process. I feel the only justice I can do to all this new found information is to let it marinate while I lie on my pillow overnight, and then get right back at it again.
I literally can’t wait and I wish you all could experience just a minute of the vibrating and soul-piercing energy that we all feel in the D&AD building at 64 Cheshire St, London – thanks to R:LDN!
For humanity with inclusion – let’s all embrace Rare.
About Youness Benali:
Youness was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, to Moroccan parents. He has been rare (not by choice) as far back as he can remember. And the notion of being different, rare at an age, when all you want is to fit in, is a hard thing to deal with, he says.
“You start to realise that rarity is sometimes not seen as a positive thing.
“It wasn’t until later in life that he realised that what makes him rare, different, special, whatever you want to call it, is not something that should hold you back. On the contrary, it’s something that you should celebrate and you should use this notion of being different to push yourself forward in life,” Benali commented.
This rarity is the most important thing in his life, and it trickles down into his films. Benali’s rarity makes him unique as both a human and a creative person. “It’s this rarity that makes my films my films.”
He moved to London in 2006, graduated Central St Martins (BA Graphic Design) and Royal College of Art (MA Visual Communication) and is signed with The Sweet Shop for commercials and music videos.