"Why didn't the doctor believe me? Did I say something wrong?"
A Black schoolgirl, circa 1969, questions her recent experience in the opening frames of a bracing :60 from Genentech that addresses decades of healthcare inequality among folks of color. Agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners and director Courtney Sofiah Yates deliver a stylish production, with minimal props and dark backdrops lending the work a theatrical feel.
That darkness mirrors the ignorance of medical institutions—suggesting entire generations lost in the void—and helps focus viewer attention as troubling stats flash on screen:
- Clinical trials are 85 percent white.
- Black women are 41 percent more likely to die from breast cancer.
- People of color still do not receive equal access to healthcare.
We watch the girl grow up until, in the present day, her determination to change the status quo yields empowering results.
In the end, she's employed as a Genentech senior scientist, leading the biotech firm's researchers as they strive to improve the odds for Black survival. The call-to-arms tagline, "Question Reality," challenges society to overhaul a system that simply doesn't work for a huge, vulnerable segment of the population.
The work seeks to drive home Genentech's commitment to the cause, expressed in recent posts by diversity chief Quita Highsmith (who tackles the issues of clinical trials) and senior director Rajni Dronamraju, who champions "acknowledging and facing head on the root causes of health inequities, and the first step is being willing to put a name to the most fundamental of these causes: racism."
" 'Question Reality' was inspired by the perspectives of countless underrepresented patients and STEM professionals, at Genentech and beyond, who are both experiencing and addressing barriers to access, opportunity and optimal health," says Veronica Sandoval, who leads inclusion and health equity initiatives at the company. "The questions presented throughout the video were directly informed by the experiences and quotes of Genentech employees of color."
"For Genentech, this is more than just a video," she continues. "It is a reflection of our 2025 D&I Commitment to be a leader and partner of choice in advancing health equity. This content is also backed up by the work and resources we've dedicated to addressing the root causes of these systemic inequities in healthcare."
The team tapped Yates, a New York-based photographer and filmmaker, to direct the spot because "it was essential to not only find someone with a creative POV already invested in this type of meaningful storytelling, but also someone who felt personally connected to this story, like it could be their own story," Wes Dorsainvil, associate creative director at GS&P, tells Muse. "She was able to capture people of color with rich hues and emotion and bring their stories to life in a cinematic way. Specifically in her work for REI, we saw how her aesthetic from photography translated into motion for this project."
Adopting a sparse visual approach "not only grabs the viewer's attention, but allows them to insert themselves into the story," Dorsainvil says. "It's supposed to feel like their story, like they're alone with their thoughts in a dark place and asking themselves these questions. We knew the work couldn't and shouldn't feel like a typical pharma ad. We wanted to produce an ad that was artful and honored the seriousness of our mission."
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
VP and Chief Diversity Officer: Quita Highsmith
Senior Manager Diversity & Inclusion Marketing: Melanie Fabiyi
Senior Corporate Communications Manager: Aisha Hauser
Senior Director, Corporate Relations: Amanda Fallon
Senior Brand Strategist: Tyler Anderson
Senior Creative Strategist: Robert Williams
Senior Operations Manager, Corporate Brand Marketing, Corporate Relations: Melissa Tioleco-Cheng
Senior Marketing Strategist, Corporate Brand Marketing, Corporate Relations: Dinah Kumbera
Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Associate Creative Director: Wes Dorsainvil
Art Director: Shantice Edwards
Copywriter: Alex Petosa
Designer: Fernando Pino
Managing Partner: Derek Robson
Account Director: Amy Henning, Molly Navalinski
Account Manager: Nate Cruz, Carmen Guan
Assistant Account Manager: Raven Wooten
Brand and Communication Strategy
Partner, Head of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan
Partner, Head of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen
Associate Partner & Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Dr. Jennifer Gomes
Group Brand Strategy Director: Stephanie Phillips
Senior Brand Strategist: Chelsea Bruzzone
Brand Strategist: Kelly Kikuchi
Director of Production: Jim Haight
Executive Producer: Danielle Riccardi
Agency Producer: Jack Sloman
Director of Business Affairs: Judy Ybarra
Business Affairs Manager: Eduardo Galan
Company Name: Stept Studios
Production Company City: El Segundo, CA
Director: Courtney Sofiah Yates
Director of Photography: Charlie Owens
Executive Producer: Blake Greenbaum
Producer: Anastasia Solovieva
Post-Production / Editorial Company
Company Name: Lockt Editorial
Editing Company City: El Segundo, CA
Director: Courtney Sofiah Yates
Lead Editor: Eva Dubovoy
Assistant Editor: Amanda Moy
VFX: Steve Hilton, Gabriel Ponce
Music: Kadhja Bonet
Online Editor: Amanda Moy
Color: Kya Lou
Sound Design and Mix: Jack Larkin, Manuel Rivas
Sound Editing: Jack Larkin
Head of Post: Connor Scofield
Post EP: Rebecca Jameson