2 Minutes With ... Tahira White & Whitney Headen, Co-Founders of 19th & Park
Tahira White and Whitney Headen are co-founders of creative marketing agency 19th & Park, which has created campaigns and experiences for Nike, Chase, Puma, Netflix and Unilever, among others. They recently launched a production division, 1Park9, to broker new opportunities between brands and underrepresented creators.
White started as a producer and project manager at production company Navia Vision before translating her experience into collaborations with various agencies and brands. She is also the co-founder of Wercflow, a SaaS-enabled marketplace tool that eliminates time-consuming bottlenecks in the content production process.
Headen previously held leadership positions at Viacom, iHeart, Defy and Essence magazine. She is also the founder of The Life Currency, a digital-first approach to mentorship, guiding young adults entering the workforce.
We spent two minutes with Tahira and Whitney to learn more about their background, creative inspirations and some recent work they've admired.
Tahira and Whitney, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Tahira: I grew up in Queens, N.Y., and a small town called Hagerstown, Md. I currently live in New York City.
- Whitney: I grew up in Hampton, Va. and I live in New York City now.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Tahira: My first realization of creativity was in preparation for my dance and figure skating performances. I enjoyed everything about it including putting my own spin on the routines, picking out my costumes, spray painting my shoes and picking out the "perfect" makeup to match. From 3 years-old through high school (where I traded skating for cheerleading), crafting those performances was some of my favorite and most joyous moments.
- Whitney: I'm the youngest of four with 6-16 years between myself and my siblings, so I always had to find ways to entertain myself. I learned how to read around the age of two and how to write at the age of 4, thanks to my older sister Nicole. I used to write my own books and turn them into plays for my cousins and me. I've always had an overactive imagination; even now, I say that I dream in imagery first and apply that to strategy second.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Tahira: Serena and Venus Williams. I started playing tennis at 9 years-old and wanted to be just as good as them. My mom kept me in rigorous programs and training through high school. Their representation made me believe in the possibility of reaching their height of success one day.
- Whitney: Probably Raven-Symoné. I always thought that if she could do the things she was doing, why couldn't I? Not to mention that we looked alike as children and my family used to make me reenact her television scenes.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Tahira: Taking an internship at a fashion show production company during my sophomore year of college. The experience of seeing the quick build of sets and the adrenaline rush that hits those two hours leading up to the show intrigued me, I'd never seen anything like it—though it subtly reminded me of my dance performances. I jumped at the next opportunity they gave me, leading me to move back to NYC and it's all history from there.
- Whitney: In college, I became the head of marketing for a fashion program we had called Strut and I used to come up with the concepts for the show and bring them to life. That was one of the first times that I really got to see something that I had in my head come to life and it changed my perspective as to what was possible. It was my introduction to the creative and production industry.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Tahira: Mickalene Thomas. I was introduced to her work at a friend's gallery in 2014 and I've always enjoyed how she uses non-traditional materials to embellish her depiction of her world and representation of the Black community.
- Whitney: As cliché and probably been said as it is, I have to say Beyoncé, and not just because she's a Virgo like me (lol). I just really admire her drive, attention to detail and the way she constantly challenges herself and her own abilities. It's inspiring to see where she started and where she is now based on her dedication to her craft and strategic business decisions. It makes you believe that anything is possible.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Tahira: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. I just finished reading it and really want to see it as a film.
- Whitney: I'm really inspired by everything that 50 Cent has created with his production company. He not only seamlessly transitioned industries but he’s also dominated with great programming and putting so many young, up-and-coming people of color in positions for better opportunities. He's truly created a full universe to tell stories that people probably would never have heard of otherwise.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Tahira: Wendy Rhoades in Billions on Showtime. She's me in my next career chapter. Run me the equity as well, please.
- Whitney: The whole cast of Sex and the City. They were my teachers in my 20s and reshaped my perspective on what life could look like for single women navigating new worlds.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Tahira: Besides myself … Aureta on Instagram. Her visuals always make me want to explore additional parts of the world and dress to the nines.
- Whitney: Me (lol)
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
- Tahira: A film series for Nike in partnership with Uninterrupted. I really enjoyed the challenge that came with putting it together, which included pulling stories from a diverse group of athletes and filming across multiple cities, all to find a common thread in their mission to influence change and mental health awareness in their respective fields and communities.
- Whitney: I didn't personally work on this Athena Club project but our team at 1Park9 did and I just love this campaign. The message, the visuals, everything about it makes me feel seen and happy.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Tahira: The launch of 1Park9, our revamp of our production entity, eight services brands, in-house agencies, and entertainment partners. Though it feels overdue, it took a mixture of leaping with faith and doubling down on our commitment to push creatives and their abilities forward.
- Whitney: I'm really proud of the recent work we did with Bumble in which we helped develop an episodic content series that shows what the dating experience for Millennials and Gen Z looks like today. Our team really fought for the strategy and the vision with this one and it paid dividends.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Tahira: Etienne Russo / Villa Eugiene. I've always been an admirer of how he plays with space and creates such beautiful spectacles. I'll never forget going to their office in Brussels for an interview in 2013 and learning that his onboarding process includes everyone spending two weeks studying in their library filled with his most admired work and influences. It's an admirable way to make sure everyone that surrounds you respects and understands the craft as well.
- Whitney: My pick is actually a recent project but the Apple disability spot was perfection. A great example of DEI done right in the most seamless way. We all understood people a little better without having to go through something personally. *chef’s kiss*
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Tahira: Collins. I've been visiting their portfolio for inspiration a lot lately.
- Whitney: I'm obsessed with anything that Donald Glover does. Donald, please hire me to do anything!
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Tahira: My ability to see the bigger picture and remain solution-oriented.
- Whitney: Logic. I like to say that I'm right and left-brained. I have the ability to think out of the box but also strategically to make sure that it's also achievable.
Your biggest weakness.
- Tahira: Servicing "in kind" because I care about the purpose. There's nothing wrong with doing it occasionally but understanding the value you bring and the cost of your time is important as well.
- Whitney: I don't believe in weaknesses. Anything I can improve on I look at as a competitive advantage. But if I had to choose, it would be responding to text messages. I really hate the constant level of accessibility that cell phones have created.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Tahira: The realization of how blessed I am to be at a place in life where I am able to be doing something I really enjoy while having the time to spend time with people I love—finally—and it feels great.
- Whitney: Being in South Africa with my husband.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Tahira: I don't feel sad very often. The continued presence of racism in our country and the evolution of climate change in the world are disappointing though.
- Whitney: Similar to weaknesses, I don't really let things bring me down. There's a reason for everything, but IF I had to choose, it would be dusty videos and production that look low-budget. There's literally no reason; we can shoot 4K on cell phones.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Tahira: Definitely a psychologist or performance coach.
- Whitney: Honestly, I think I would either be a professor or an actress.