Adcolor Conference brings creative people of color together

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 1,700 participants attended the 16th annual Adcolor Conference at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles Nov. 17-20. The event brought together creative people of color in the advertising, technology and the creative fields to network, seek inspiration and to share ideas.

The annual Adcolor Conference was created by founder and president Tiffany Warren, whose goal is to champion diversity and inclusion in the creative industries.

“As we return to our first, fully in-person event in two years, Adcolor 2022 is a way for us to honor the moments that have provided the tools and inspiration to build a better, more inclusive future,” Warren said. “One where we all rise together.”

All nominees vying in 17 categories were carefully reviewed by more than 50 judges who represented a diverse range of industries, titles, levels and backgrounds.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Still Rising,” whose purpose is to unite creatives to continue to climb in their careers and businesses and to recognize creatives of color as well as honor the future leaders of tomorrow.

Nov. 19 was the first day of panel sessions,which featured actress Keke Palmer, producer, director and screenwriter Ryan Coogler and co-writer and co-director duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, country singer-songwriter Reyna Roberts; actress Lauren Ridloff (AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Marvel’s “Eternals”).

The panels touched on topics including diversity in the workplace, representation and inclusion, mental health and much more.

“You can’t change the world,” Palmer said. “Instead, think about what you can give — and for me, I can give joy. … Give what you can and only do what you can do.”

Winning the Beacon Award this year, which celebrates an entertainment and/or media creative who is helping to transform and move the culture forward, was writer, producer, actress and entrepreneur Issa Rae, creator of HBO’s “Insecure” and “The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which became a viewer favorite on YouTube and depicts how J (played by Rae) interacts with co-workers and love interests who place her in uncomfortable situations.

“Insecure,” about the awkward experiences of a contemporary African-American woman, was eventually picked up by HBO. Since its release in 2016, the series has received critical acclaim.

In 2017, the American Film Institute selected “Insecure” as one of the top 10 Television Programs of the Year. For her work on the show, Rae has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress–Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2017 and 2018, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2018.

In 2018, at the 77th annual Peabody Awards, “Insecure” was honored for “creating a series that authentically captures the lives of everyday young, Black people in modern society.”

Rae was selected as one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People in 2022.

Rae, who mandates that the staff on all her sets must be 60% diverse — uses her considerable platform to change the status quo in the quest for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice and has been instrumental in moving forward diversity and inclusivity for people of color, starting her own multi-faceted media company Hoorae Media to break boundaries in story-telling and representation.

Rae was grateful for the award and urged attendees to continue to strive forward in their careers.

Warren said that Rae’s shows remind her of herself. Saying that she had been in situations where she never really fit in, and felt that Rae gave voice to what many Black females felt.

“A generation of Black women have grown up knowing that it’s OK to be awkward and it’s OK to have a specific point of view,” she said.

“For the past 16 years, I have been so proud to see the Adcolor community continue to reaffirm our mission of rising up and reaching back,” Warren said. “Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice have become more integral than ever before, and our 2022 honorees and nominees have used their platforms to go above and beyond in creating positive change.”

Warren said that Adcolor’s goals are twofold.

Adcolor Futures programs facilitate training, mentorship and empowerment to 30 young professionals chosen through the application process with the goal of nurturing the talent of tomorrow.

“First, we help individuals and organizations rise up, letting their accomplishments and ideas shine,” Warren said. “Then we teach these new leaders and would-be mentors how to reach back and find others who deserve to be noticed and promoted.

“Our goal is to create a community of diverse professionals who are here to support and celebrate one another.”

She based the criteria on selecting Futures professionals on their innovative thinking, problem solving and the length of their career of at least 1-3 years of full-time work experience. For the Leaders, inductees have to be in their careers between 15 plus years of experience in the creative or communications industry and leadership ability.

“We want people to stand out and be different,” she said. “To go beyond labels and shine as individuals with unique perspectives and personalities. We want companies to recognize these different people not as quotas, but as assets who bring new, fresh and brilliant ideas to every business.”

Partners for the event included Amazon, Disney, Google, YouTube and Meta.

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at


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