The BrandStorytelling Brand Film Certification Scholarship: Meet the First Class

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

Meet the Brand Storytellers: Leo Martinez Davis, Adriênne D. Bolden, Arturo Longoria, Faith E. Briggs, and Juliana Penaranda-Loftus
Meet the Brand Storytellers (L to R): Leo Martinez Davis, Adriênne D. Bolden, Arturo Longoria, Faith E. Briggs, and Juliana Penaranda-Loftus

The Brand Storytelling Brand Film Certification Program is proud to host a select group of DE&I scholarship students to participate in each cohort. A minimum of 5 scholarships per cohort have been secured to be given to current and future brand storytellers who are not yet equally represented in marketing, advertising, film, and other related brand storytelling fields. Our goal is to empower underrepresented creatives in an effort to actively change the makeup of who is invited to tell brand stories. This year marked the launch of the program, and we caught up with the first class of scholarship alumni to learn more about their interest in taking the course, valuable lessons learned, and plans to apply those learnings to future storytelling endeavors:


What inspired you to become a storyteller?


Leo Martinez Davis: I always enjoyed telling stories! It has always fascinated me because you can make someone else feel a specific feeling, create urgency, clarify a concept, and even help others make connections. My passion started with my love for acting and writing, but eventually, as I grew professionally, I was able to use visual design and marketing to continue telling stories. Today, I use my artistry to continue exploring storytelling through drag and content creation. Additionally, I can help brands connect with their audience through authentic and intentional storytelling. That's also pretty exciting.


Adriênne D. Bolden: I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. My family was protective of me, I’m the baby of 4 so I entertained myself and others through stories. It allowed me to connect with family and friends as a child and now it allows me to help companies connect with their target audiences.


Arturo Longoria: Living and moving to different cities while growing up gave me a sense of displacement, but it allowed me to connect to the different stories that surrounded me. Looking back, this displacement gave me a sense of belonging within storytelling.


Juliana Penaranda-Loftus: Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools to connect with people. Stories are universal, they can help to build empathy in a harsh world. Stories teach, inspire, influence and help us to understand our human nature. My background growing up in a border city and living in the US has certainly shaped the stories I tell: stories of resilience, survival and compassion. I have dedicated my life to finding and telling those stories in order to bring people together, to build bridges of understanding.



What made you want to participate in the Brand Film Certification Course?


LMD: The first thing that caught my attention was the opportunity to work on an RFP where you could apply the knowledge and present it to real clients and brands. I am glad I didn't hesitate to apply for the DE&I scholarship because getting that experience was invaluable!


Faith E. Briggs: I wanted to participate in the Brand Film Certificate Course so I could get a better sense of the landscape within which I'm working. Though I've been working in branded storytelling for 5 years, it sometimes feels like I'm making it up as I go along. Being a part of the course gave me so many examples of stories that I didn't even know had brand support, helped me with ideas of how to explain to clients why this kind of work is good for them, and connected me to folks in the industry who I know will be great resources and hopefully future collaborators.


ADB: I wanted to challenge myself. I am not a filmmaker. I am a strategic communications professional. I was hoping to learn more about sharing brand stories through video. I got that and so much more. It created new partnerships and avenues for my business.


AL: I wanted to have a new point of view of the industry and wanted to connect with passionate storytellers and learners.


JPL: As a filmmaker I was looking for a way to explore the world of brand storytelling. When I found out about the program and who was behind it I jumped at the opportunity to learn from the best in the brand industry.



Share something you learned from the course that changed what you thought you knew about telling brand stories.


LMD: For a long time, I thought advertising and marketing were mainly about getting the product in front of people (billboards, paid advertising, commercials). Once I became more familiar with the internet and social media users, I was always aware of how content marketing and storytelling could give brands leverage and a strong connection with their audience. However, I never felt as confident as I do now. There is power in emotion and storytelling. I learned that storytelling helps demonstrate the brand's commitment to the community and how the product fits into the story. A strategy that doesn't feel forced, generic, disruptive, or impersonal. I learned that in some cases, instead of creating a fantasy, it could be beneficial for a brand to meet the user where they are, understand them, and amplify their stories. This approach could reveal new opportunities, diversify strategies, and create positive brand awareness when done well.


ADB: You do not need to know it all or do it all, but is extremely beneficial to be aware. This course raises your awareness and ability to be an asset in the niche