2 Minutes With ... Diego Andrade, Executive Creative Director at Orci
Now, Andrade leads efforts on behalf of clients like Honda, Acura, ExtraMile, Chevron, Texaco and Paramount+. As a self-described queer Mexican-American from an immigrant family, Andrade is passionate about fostering space for creatives of all backgrounds and perspectives to collaborate. As he sees it, the best, most authentic work comes from that intersection of different cultures and varied experiences.
While at Mitú, Andrade collaborated on the creation of the Filmmaker Mentorship Program in partnership with Walmart. He also oversaw the development of original series.
We spent two minutes with Diego to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.
Diego, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I was born in Mexico City, and my family took me with them when they immigrated to the U.S. I was just a baby at the time. I'm told it was actually supposed to be a temporary thing, but we stuck around. I spent my childhood in Great Falls, Va., and then we moved to Pasadena, Calif, where I spent my teenage years. After that, I went to college in Santa Cruz before returning to Southern California. Since then, I have lived in a bunch of places including the Inland Empire, Santa Monica, Silverlake and, currently, Whittier.
How you first realized you were creative.
I'm the third kid in a family of creative people, so I was fortunate to grow up in an environment that fostered creativity. During my childhood, I used to plan out epic adventure storylines with my stuffed animals. My beloved snow leopard Spot has been through a lot.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
As a nerdy kid growing up in the '90s, my admiration for the creative team behind X-Men comic books was boundless. Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Ncieza and Marc Silverstri were creatives I really admired. The diverse storytelling and mutant-minority allegory in X-Men played a key role in shaping my values and priorities as a creator.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
When I was 18, I met my future husband in the all-gender bathroom of our freshmen dorm at UCSC. After we graduated, he took a tough job to provide the financial stability that enabled me to pursue my first internship opportunity at an agency. I kicked off my creative career thanks to his support.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
I'm a sucker for strong women and singer-songwriters, such as Mitski, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Daucus and Julia Jacklin. What I appreciate the most about them is their fearlessness in delving into bleak and brutally vulnerable themes. Their music is heavy, but it's also beautiful and makes me feel alive.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I've been enjoying the X-Men-focused Cerebro podcast by Connor Goldsmith. Each episode is a deep dive into a specific franchise character, with Connor and a fellow enthusiast/industry creator exploring the character's background, history and context. The passion for this universe and the dedication that the contributors pour into the podcast is super inspiring. I've also been hooked on LAist's The Big Burn podcast, which covers fascinating and informative stuff about California and L.A.'s relationship with wildfires through the decades.
Your favorite fictional character.
I love female characters who are both complex and insanely powerful, and who won't hesitate to take revenge if anyone threatens their loved ones. Some notable examples are Jean Grey, Galadriel, Storm, Invisible Woman and Scarlet Witch.
Someone or something worth following on social media.
Shameless plug, but my husband. He has a talent for capturing beautiful images with his old film cameras. He takes amazing pictures of cars, houses and even abandoned shopping carts that we stumble upon during our walks with our dog.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
It's such a big topic to think about. The pandemic transformed everything, including the way we plan our lives and the fundamental operations of creativity and production. As a manager, I learned a lot about how to keep my team inspired. It's not easy to be funny, insightful, poignant and creative when the world feels like it's falling apart. However, we made a collective effort to stay connected and be there for each other, not only in our work, but also as human beings. For me, this effort to keep each other inspired is something that will never go away. It's a fundamental part of being a creative leader.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
I will always cherish the memory of creating a pizza-themed superhero for a Mitú and Pizza Hut partnership. Peeksa Man, forever in our hearts.
A recent project you're proud of.
I have some projects in my current role at Orci that I know I'll love when they materialize. In the meantime, from my former gig, I love the way this Mitú and Walmart Filmmaker Mentorship Program came together. It's a beautiful campaign that provided resources and a platform for young Latine movie makers.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
Everything Barton F. Graf 9000 did with Little Caesars back in the day. They executed beautifully simple and absurd ideas to perfection. This type of creative demands self-awareness and full commitment from all parties involved. And they committed. Every. Single. Time.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
This beautifully inclusive Mastercard spot from a year ago, featuring a blind protagonist. The ad was amazingly executed and also designed to be accessible to the visually impaired.
Your main strength as a creative person.
Knowing what I don't know.
Your biggest weakness.
When I get into "I'll just do it myself" mode. It often leads to burnout and doesn't give the team a chance to grow. However, I've gotten better at delegating throughout the years.
One thing that always makes you happy.
How overjoyed my little curmudgeon of a dog is to see me every morning when I wake him up.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Those surprise reunion videos on social media where Latines who haven't seen each other in like 20 years meet again. I cry every time.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
Running a senior dog rescue. Just spending thankless hours tending to a whole host of grumpy old unwanted little guys. That'd be a good life.