A Pledge For Change: Q&A With Three's A Crowd Co-Founders Reonna Johnson & Justin Polk
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
In the last several months, conversations about race and inequity in American society have been prevalent and pervasive, forcing every industry to take a look inward and reckon with the sad reality that internal corporate spaces are not an accurate reflection of the breadth of diversity that exists within this country. It is a sad reality well known to the people who have experienced it for entire careers, forced to operate within a system that demands conformity to its standards with little to no regard for the BIPOC experience. And although flash points of injustice have sparked countless conversations before, this time, the confluence of difficulties plaguing the nation have afforded the issue an unobstructed spotlight, and for the first time in a long time, people are asking, "what can I do?"
The answer is to connect and have conversations with the very people most affected and most moved to enact change; People like Reonna Johnson and Justin Polk, founders of Three's A Crowd, a community of LA-based Black creative professionals from all backgrounds, disciplines, and levels in our careers within advertising, marketing, entertainment, production, fine arts and entrepreneurial spaces. Three's A Crowd is behind the In For 13 Pledge, an initiative to actionably stomp out systemic racism and create equity in the advertising industry by raising the percentage of Black bodies in leadership positions to 13% (reflective of the percentage of Black people in the country) by 2023. Brand Storytelling caught up with Johnson and Polk to learn more about Three's a Crowd and the action plan as it relates to In For 13:
Justin, you’ve had a robust creators’ journey at the intersection of television and brand. Can you tell us more about that?
Justin Polk: My time working/interning in film and television at places like Village Roadshow and Broken Lizard (shadowing director Jay Chandrasekhar) was not as long as I wanted but it definitely informed my career in advertising. I always say that the advertising system/structure is on par with a fast-paced mini-studio system in film. So, starting in film definitely made me aware of the way things have to be approved, the creative process, along with how to best collaborate in advertising.
What did you experience along the way that gave rise to thoughts about the need for creative and professional black empowerment initiatives? Or did thinking about and involving yourself in those initiatives come later?
JP: While working at Deutsch LA I noticed that the number of minority employees, specifically black employees, were extremely low. And, a lot of the work that w