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Rare Access: Your difference is your superpower

Rare Access: Your difference is your superpower

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Rare Access powered by Sweetshop took place last week at D&AD in London and Semi Permanent in Sydney this week. In Sydney, Sweetshop’s two selected rare individuals for a place on Rare Access were Trong Ronakiat and Katarina Matic, who both work in the advertising industry.

In the spirit of inclusivity, they’ve combined their thoughts about their experiences into one blog. These two creatives are not only Rare talent, they’re also a powerful argument for broadening the scope of talent in the creative industries.

Katarina Matic: Hello! I’m Katarina and I’m a mixed race, hasbian who grew up in a small town called Monbulk. When I show up at work or attend industry events, I’m most often in the minority when it comes to the colour of my skin, my gender and the socioeconomic status of my upbringing.

Trong Ronakiat: I am Trong Ronakiat, a Thai born art director currently working for Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. I think I’m the only Thai creative currently working in Australian advertising. I was also an airport furniture designer prior to advertising, a profession that gives me great appreciation for the products we sell every day. (Well, some of them anyway!)

Why did you apply for Rare Access?

K: I would love to see more women of colour in creative leadership roles. I would also love to see more leaders with quiet and introverted leadership styles in the advertising industry. I applied for Rare Access because I want to be part of the change that I want to see in the industry and I believed Rare Access, and attending the Rare Masterclass, would help me get on the right track. I hoped Rare would be an opportunity to learn invaluable leadership skills and empower myself.

T: As a creative, in the past, I’ve felt uncomfortable with the label, minority, as I wanted to be accepted for my creativity, not where I come from or the way I look. But oftentimes, despite my best effort, it feels difficult to relate to people due to our differences and therefore I feel unable to be myself. I love this industry and want to find a way to feel more comfortable with being different and help others who might feel the same way. So I applied for Rare Access in the hope of finding some answers.

What is Rare?

T: What isn’t Rare?! Through a series of incredible speakers with stories as diverse as themselves and hours of methodically developing your values and resilience through workshops and exercises, not only does Rare presents the evidence of why under-represented voice is important, it helps you develop a stronger and more unique one so you can realise your creative potential. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

K: Rare is an incredible initiative that champions diversity in the creative industry. As an industry we need to be doing better when it comes to ensuring a diverse point of view is represented in our creative departments and leadership roles, but additionally, and this is what this year’s Rare Masterclass drilled into us, we need to be pushing diversity because it makes good business sense. When the input is homogenous, we’re not being as creative as we can be. And when we’re not being as creative as we can be there’s no innovation or progression.

Biggest Learnings

K: My biggest learning was this: Your difference is your superpower. Rare Masterclass encouraged us to view what makes us different, or rare, as an asset. I found this really inspiring because I’m usually the type of person who tries to fit in, pass, fly under the radar or assimilate. And now that I’ve had a shift in mindset, I’ve realised that not only do I not have to do any of these things, but it’s beneficial not to. Rare Masterclass reminded us that it’s important for creative leaders to make space for minority voices in the industry but it also empowered us to make our own voices heard. They taught us to know the value of our different perspective and to use it to our advantage. I want to thrive, not despite my difference, but because of it.

T: I agree with Kat. But I’d also like to add that it appears that building your superpower takes a journey. And one which requires a lot of courage. But it’s extremely encouraging to see speakers from diverse background who have overcome their struggles and have realized their full creative potential are now trying to teach the next generation to do the same. It’s inspiring and it gives me hope.

Thank yous

K & T: Thank you so much to Tara Mckenty, from Rare/Google and Edward Pontifex, from Sweetshop. You are both so passionate about creating a more diverse and inclusive creative industry, we are very grateful for the opportunity you gave to us.

Stay tuned for more Rare Access diaries, this time from Rare Access powered by Sweetshop in London, running alongside D&AD.