Grits & Gospel: Troy Harris (2012)

Troy Harris _ Grits & Gospel

2012 MAIPer, Troy Harris, has certainly been busy this Fall! He and his publication co-founder, Sam Floyd, are serving up their authentic flavor of food for thought with their new coffee-table book, Vol 1: Soul Fuel.

Friends for almost 20 years, their brainchild is Grits & Gospel (“G&G”), a communal publication hell-bent on delivering thoughtful content in today’s clickbait online ecosystem. They’ve been featured all over the web in places like Blavity, Hip Hop Golden Age, and HuffPost as well as in OWN’s Black Love Summit earlier this month. You can check them out at

This September, G&G took on a new, physical, form as they hit readers with their patented blend of wit and humor in this 130-page full-color hardback book.

Equal parts practical and ridiculous, Soul Fuel is sure to jump-start the conversation your living room craves! With topics ranging from unveiling Black culture’s underrated figures to tips and tricks on staying financially savvy, there is truly something for everyone.

It includes articles from Troy, Sam, and their eclectic group of guest writers, plus visual contributions from over a dozen graphic artists all brought together to celebrate creativity, inspire readers, and spark infectious ideas.

Support our MAIP alum with an order and bring this multifaceted experience directly to your coffee table today!

Malaika Apparel Co. - Rita Bunatal (2017)

Rita Bunatal _ Malaika Apparel

Malaika Apparel Co., LLC. is an apparel and lifestyle company that at its core aims to bridge the gap between the Pan-African diaspora through various forms or accurate and dignified forms of representation. With roots in Ghana & Kenya, the brand seeks embody a distinguishable form of revolution that spans across the U.S. borders.

This brand is a practice that defies contemporary norms and aims to celebrate all people of the diaspora. The inspiration of Malaika Apparel is a challenge to the social conditions where Black representation is limited to its appropriation. Malaika Apparel is thus a call for agency and the empowerment of the Black/African Diaspora.

We aim to bridge the gap between the Pan-African diaspora by exploring the beautiful complexities that exist within our individual and collective stories.

Check out and use the discount code, MAIPFAM for a special discount, specially for the MAIP family.

Feel free to stay in touch via social media:




Medaase! Asantesana! Thank you!

Who Said That?! - Javon Scott (2016), Ingrid Patino (2015), Justin Ollivierre (2015)


MAIP Alumni Ingrid Patino (2015), Justin Olliviere (2015), and Javon Scott (2016) host the hit podcast "Who Said That?!” (WST), which tackles everything current with a hint of nostalgia. We focus on nostalgic moments in pop history with a modern day twist. We bring positivity and our honest opinions to the show.

WST was built off of great conversations and genuine friendship. One day we were all getting dumplings gagging and reminiscing over what would be our first episode on Flavor of Love, and Javon brought the idea to the group. From there, we just went for it! WST is a podcast that focuses on nostalgic moments in pop history with a modern day twist. We bring positivity and our honest opinions to the show.

Reception has been nothing but POSITIVE. We all have our individual networks that reach out often about how they feel like they’re in the room talking with us during the show or how they’re reliving a nostalgic moment in pop history because of us! It’s been nothing but love. ☺

Season 1 gave us a taste of how our fellows see the world outside of the advertising space. It's a gag-worthy listen filled with light that'll have you reminiscing about the past but, looking forward to a brighter future. For Season 2, we plan on tackling more gag worthy moments and giving our audience an outlet to enjoy! Season 2 is set for a release later this Fall!

We’re grateful for the support of MAIP alumni like Bria Benjamin (2016, 2017), who did our artwork for us. Take a listen on iTunes and Soundcloud. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

This post was written by Javon Scott (2016) for the MAIP blog.

Social Mosaic Communications: Alex Santiago (2010)


Social Mosaic Communications was born out of necessity and "rebeldía."

For nearly a decade, Alex Santiago's "side-hustle" has evolved into many forms of strategy, advertising and creative consultations. But from the beginning, his mission has been to Create With Purpose™. Today, he and his wife are focused on responsive branding from business plans to brand books.

SoSaic, as the '10 alum and '18 MAIPer to Watch Alex Santiago has called the boutique, now has developed and consulted local, national and international brands. Some brands @sosaic has helped are: Biohm Probiotics, Barry University, Zumba, Glanbia Performance Nutrition (BSN Supplements), US Foods, CDC en Español, Castrol, AP VAS, among others.


Today, @sosaic, has a sister agency in South Florida named Studio St. Louis, which is owned by a first-generation Haitian-American art director and designer. Together, they tackle most projects from strategy to execution—and their focus is for the culture and the "familia."

Their passion is helping other minority entrepreneurs build brands that are not afraid to revolutionize culture, but need help breaking through as well-established businesses.

Alex was born and raised in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and has lived in Florida for 19 years. He holds a degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida and lives in Central Florida with his wife, Charity, two sons and a daughter. When he's not working in branding and advertising, he's producing and playing music in his hometown.

This post was written by Alex Santiago for the MAIP blog.

Short LGBTQ+ Films: Phil Cheng (2015)


In early 2018 Alan Sanchez (2015) and I came across a short film festival brief that asked us to share how we celebrate. We both really had to have a think about what in our lives we considered exciting enough for celebration. It had honestly been a challenging year for the both of us. 

In my free time I’d taken up baking to further explore my love of carbs, but also because I believe a deep subconscious part of me needed the satisfying precision of something as scientific as baking. I thought of this guy who put his heart into making a cake but still managed to find a way to screw it up; but he had someone there to help him find a reason to celebrate the imperfect cake anyway. In the midst of our down moments we really ended up leaning on the other as a confidant and cheerleader. It felt obvious to cast the leads as two gay men simply because thats how we identify, but on a broader scale we also felt the importance and weight of telling a universal narrative with a couple that happened to be gay.


Created in collaboration with Animator Allen Martsch, Bittersweet was selected as the Pride 2018 feature digital short for Frameline, the country’s largest LGBT film festival. When creating it, Allen said “I wanted to make something I could have used growing up, something for the queer kid who was searching for context.” Animation's core audience is often youth, which means it has a responsibility to be mindful of the types of people and imagery it shares. Bittersweet is an example of the type of media that we want to make in the world, normalizing these relationships and releasing the stigma of queer relationships being inherently sexual and not "age appropriate."

Millennial Women: Victoria Alsina (2017)


Millennial Women is a compass and digital platform that brings together women of our generation to ignite motivation amongst each other through an alliance of resources.

As a first-generation scholar from Hialeah, Florida I am defined by my “LATIN-idad”, and I am motivated to continue my community’s progress. When compared to white males, black women and Hispanic women make significantly less money in a year. Yet, since 1982, women have earned 4.35 million more bachelor’s degrees than men.

There is clearly a problem, and an opportunity to share that knowledge and create an inclusive environment for millennial women to thrive.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 10.33.04 AM.png

When Millennial Women, INC. co-founders, Melissa and Stephanie Carcache, and Chief Marketing Officer, Dayana Falcon approached me with the idea of MW, I jumped out of my seat about this movement and raised my hand to get involved right away. Melissa, Stephanie, and Dayana were all raised in Hialeah, Florida and the entire MW team shares a common goal of empowering millennial women to find their voice by understanding each other’s challenges and providing solutions to those challenges.

As a first-generation scholar from Hialeah, Florida I am defined by my “LATIN-idad”, and I am motivated to continue my community’s progress.

Millennial Women is a source of inspiration for me and others to follow their dreams and #FailForward. It reminds me and other young woman that no dream is too far-fetched, and it backs me with a community of powerful and strong females. Through our social community and traveling podcast Millennial Women Talk, “MW” proves that we can all win—together.

In my role as a Project Manager for Millennial Women, Inc - I am able to take how MAIP trained me with project management skill sets, and challenge myself to empower the other underrepresented millennial women.

Join the Millennial Woman-hood or become an ally by following us along on our journey.

Facebook and Instagram: @wearemillennialwomen
Twitter: @WeAreMWomen

If interested in connecting/collaborating, please e-mail us at

The Cosmos: Tanya Zhang (2015)


Finding the Cosmos was like finding my place in the universe. In college, I led 4N01, an all-female hip hop dance team, that was diverse, #sashafierce and fearless in expressing their artistry as strong inspiring women. Since then, I’ve been passionate about finding a way to lead a community that empowers women of color personally and professionally 👩🏻‍💻 💁🏻‍

Working with the Cosmos to create a paradigm that considers our diversity as people, values our wellbeing as individuals, and defines our right to thrive on our own terms was nothing short of the stars aligning! The Cosmos truly began with one simple yet powerful question:

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 7.40.24 PM.png

The mission is to change the way women live and work from the inside out by approaching personal and professional development holistically with a focus on wellness & with six pillars in mind:  

  1. Wellness

  2. Family & Relationships

  3. Money

  4. Work

  5. Creativity

  6. Politics & Culture

These pillars, coupled with our principles, guide a community of co-creation that’s rooted in immersive and transformational experiences. ✨✨

I launched the Cosmos’ official Instagram just two months ago with co-founders Cassandra Lam and Karen Mok. On top of leading our social presence, I’m focused on developing a community growth strategy centered around our members, partners, creators and allies! I want to design the Cosmos community to be a single source of truth for the issues, thoughts, and doubts women of color may have. And I’m super passionate about providing the resources and tools to empower all of us to celebrate our livelihood. 💜

We have a roster of events hosted in SF, LA, NYC and Denver and we want every member of our community to explore and define what health and wellness means on their own terms. Creating a supportive space to tackle hard issues like finding confidence, pleasure 101, mental health and anxiety (each workshop is co-created with a woman of color) is core to our model for flourishing and thriving as a community.

The Cosmos Retreat (1)_v2.jpg

Tickets live for our 3-Day LA Retreat and we’re launching our first ever book club gathering on June 11 at Asian American Writer’s Workshop in NYC. I highly recommend signing up for our newsletter to get all the exciting, upcoming news!!

Our community is inclusive to self-identifying women, femmes, gender nonconforming, queer, and transgender individuals of Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian descent and we produce workshops for both men and women! 💜

Make something with us |  Follow us!

#SeeAsAmStar: Will Yu (2014)

In 2016, I released a project called #StarringJohnCho. Using Photoshop, I reengineered famous movie posters and inserted Korean-American actor John Cho in them to demonstrate what Hollywood hits would look like with an Asian American lead. While a still image proved to be an impactful way to make this point, I saw an opportunity to bring my hopes for an Asian American movie star even closer to reality.

This May, I launched #SeeAsAmStar (short for “Asian American”), a collection of video clips that feature Asian American actors John Cho, Constance Wu, Arden Cho, and Steven Yeun in some of your favorite movies. From Captain America to Katniss Everdeen, #SeeAsAmStar reimagines the Hollywood landscape to reflect the growing presence of Asian Americans in this country. The goal of the project is to deconstruct the definition of a Hollywood movie star and show that Asian Americans can play these roles.

Using Deepfake technology, most recently incorporated to create Jordan Peele’s simulated Obama PSA, I superimposed Asian American actors and created video clips that provide a living depiction of Asian American as the heroes, romantics, and leaders that Hollywood refuses to cast because it “can’t see” Asian movie stars. The results are remarkably realistic, and I hope that in viewing them, you will reexamine your expectations of who can or cannot carry hit movies in this country.

Studies continue to show that films with diverse casts result in higher box office numbers and higher returns on investments for film companies, yet whitewashing and the marginalization of Asian American stories continue to exist. Even with the release of a movie like Crazy Rich Asians, the first film produced in Hollywood in two and a half decades to feature an all ethnically Asian cast, in August, there is still more work to be done to address Hollywood’s inability to include more Asian American stories. As Asian Americans continue to grow in population and buying power, there is a growing desire to see ourselves fairly represented in the stories we consume.

#SeeAsAmStar demonstrates what a world could look like if Hollywood starts to cast accordingly. The project has been written up in Digital SpyInverse, and HuffPost, among others.

Please share the videos, tweet #SeeAsAmStar, and visit for more information.

Blacks in Advertising: Candace Queen

Prior to MAIP my access to Black industry professionals were very limited. Going into the program, I knew my end-goal was to run my own agency, and work with a range of brands across the board. In school, we didn’t learn much about any Black-run agencies, so during my internship, I made it a point to start doing my own research in my downtime. The first person, was the iconic Tom Burrell, followed by Bill Sharp, however I was really digging deep to find a Black woman who’d accomplished what I was pursuing. Ownership. The first person I discovered was Carolyn R. Jones. I found I aligned with her in so many ways, from her interesting start into the industry, down to her health battles. I truly wish I could have met her in-person. To this day, what I’ve learned about her has served as a driving force behind everything that I do.


Year 1: The Big Idea

Post-MAIP, I finished my M.A. at the University of Texas at Austin, and made the leap to Chicago to start my journey as an art director at Digitas. Halfway into my first-year there, I started to realize how many other young black ad professionals were searching for the same representation that I was, the same motivation and inspiration. So in February 2016, I launched a Black History Month Campaign that highlighted key figures in advertising and media. People responded incredibly well, so I took things a step further, and featured some active leaders in the industry during Women’s History Month.



Year 2: R&D

The following year I partnered with ADCOLOR to re-share the coverage that had been developed during our first year. During year two I also began consulting with ad professionals within the industry about different content directions and the possibilities for growth in Blacks in Advertising. I took year 2 to really lay down a plan of action, to take a small Black History Month project, into something that was evergreen and could nurture the Black Ad Community year-round.



Year 3: The Next Phase

I’ve learned a lot along this journey of building a non-profit and defining the brand. In the commercial space, I’ve worked with a range of brands from beauty to grocery and food services, to beer and telecom. Clients have entrusted me with their brand story, but when you’re directing something for yourself, it’s a totally different ballgame. You critique yourself harder, you spend time going down a rabbit hole in areas that shouldn’t take more than a blink to mull through. This is literally your kid, and you want the best for our child, you want to see her grown to her full potential.  

This process has taught me to be kind to myself and to embrace change and growth. When you look through the IG feed, you’ll see the evolution of the visual identity, and I love that. At first I was going to delete some of the early posts but it’s the realest you’ll get. I’ve also honed in on building partnerships that are mutually beneficial. During Year 2, a big period of research and development, working with ADCOLOR to re-share content from the first year helped me remain present within the ad community. I also began to collect feature stories from young execs in the field. This year, I partnered with Ericka Riggs and the Ad Club of New York to lead the design and visual direction for a collaborative series of active Black Icons and Rockstars in our industry.

In Spring 2018, I’m focusing on building a strong auxiliary board, advisory council, and arsenal of content contributors.  The three categories provide a range of ways to get involved, whether you’re a C-Suite exec or a junior looking for a way to shape your skills while volunteering with an organization that’s seeking to change the industry you’ll grow in. This is a time of evolution, so there are plenty of opportunities to help shape what Blacks in Advertising will be and look like going forward. Check out the roles and descriptions, and if there’s a space you think you’d fit well in, please apply!


About Candace:

Candace D. Queen is  a Sr. Visual Designer + Art Director that divides her time between Houston and Chicago, with a vivacious entrepreneurial spirit. With that said, she wears many crowns.

Her creative focus revolves around social media, experiential design, and art curation. She’s worked with a range of brands and organizations, including Cantu Beauty, ALDI, Sprint, Miller Lite, ADCOLOR, and the 4A’s. In addition to her work, she gives back to the advertising community through her service on the AAF’s Mosaic NextGen Leadership Council as well as the AAF’s Media Image Task Force, an initiative that focuses on analyzing the depictions of African-American women in advertising & media. Additionally Candace sits on the ADCOLOR Advisory Board, serving as the co-lead for the FUTURES Planning Committee and the MAIP Alumni Association Executive Council.

Passionate about all things Trill, Chopped and Screwed, her work reflects her roots in Southeast Texas, as well as her love for exploring new technology and hacking culture codes. Learn more about Candace here.

Album Cover Animations: Darryl Sharp, Jr. (2013)


For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been inspired by album art, most specifically vinyl sleeves. I always saw them as 12x12 canvases that depicted the depth of musicians’ multi-track masterpieces. Certain album covers I’ve seen at times have even felt like a paused moment for an even bigger movie that they represented.

This and my interest in being not just a graphic designer but also an motion graphics artist inspired me to create album cover animations of some of my favorite and recent album covers. The first major one that I created was for Tyler The Creator’s lastest album “Flower Boy.”

What I look the most for when I decide to animate a cover is what can come to life to reflect even further the meaning of the album, in this case the bees flying across the cover and a rainbow forming in the background.


What I love the most about these covers is the depth they create in an initially flat image, like old-school holograms and lenticular postcards. Since starting to create these album cover animations, I have created cover animations paying tribute to artists such as Solange, Janelle Monae, Outkast, Childish Gambino, Drake, N.E.R.D and more. Most times I am to create and release them simultaneously with an artists’ actual album release or the anniversary of a past album.

Earlier this year, I even got some recognition for these animations when a viral twitter moment was made about them and articles and posts were written about me through Billboard, PigeonsandPlanes, The Shade Room, and more. Since then I’ve even began to develop relationships with some prominent record labels like Atlantic Records and Interscope Records and can hopefully be a part of some amazing creative releases for artists in the forseeable future.

Check out some snippets of the animations below and explore them fully on my Instagram @darrylthesharp

He can do both: Carlton Wilcoxson (2015)

#MAIPAlum Carlton Wilcoxson (2015) on fulfillment, doing it for the kids and making people laugh coast to coast. This was written by Carlton for the 4A's MAIP.

I guess advertising wasn’t enough.

Truth be told, I always knew this. I saw the ad industry as an opportunity to make my mother proud while never being forced to wear a tie. After my MAIP summer internship in Austin, TX at McGarrah Jessee, I came back to Austin because I found something more than a job. I found stand-up comedy and the program E4 Youth.

In advertising terms, I was never considered a creative and I can’t really say why I chose to try stand-up. All I knew is that I had nothing to express myself since I wasn’t a scenic photographer, travel blogger or inspiring videographer… and being an account manager didn’t help. I knew I had something and after many thoughts and drinks, I went to my first open mic.

At first it was just one open mic every two weeks but then I became obsessed. Going up as much as 8-10 times a week. Despite my obsession, I bombed 90% of the time for 8 months straight and I wish I were joking.

Around the same time, I was introduced to E4 Youth. E4 Youth is an organization dedicated to exposing High school students to the commercial arts based in Austin, TX. At first, I would just do a couple school visits. Showing classrooms the joys of advertising while omitting information like angry email chains over the color blue.

I would see kids who had something and just needed some encouragement. In hindsight, I saw myself.

But after these talks, students would come up to me not asking about my job but wanting to show me their work. Honestly, I stayed (knowingly) missing important meetings to view students’ music videos, clothing line designs, and scripts for YouTube series. In those moments, I would see kids who had something and just needed some encouragement. In hindsight, I saw myself.

So I committed. I became a member on the E4 Youth’s fundraising committee, a summer program coach, a mentor, and an ambassador for the local ad community. I decided comedy is a craft I would hone. The results of both of those decisions has led me to interesting places. Through comedy, I was able to tour to San Francisco & Portland, OR doing collectively 18 shows in 2017.

While in San Francisco, I was able to connect with Mike Shine, a co-founder of BSSP and traveling mural artist. To which he later came to Austin to work with the E4 Youth students on an art piece for an upcoming gallery show and featured the students in the popular urban art magazine Juxtapoz.


I’ve also had the privilege of being the keynote speaker of Austin for Creative Mornings through comedy. My story and jokes that morning inspired a person in the audience to raise over $1,200 for E4 Youth under the campaign “Advertising Doesn’t Need Another White Guy” … His words not mine but thank you Brian Thompson for being a real one.

Currently, I host a bi-weekly stand-up show in Austin through Volcom brands and preform regularly in Austin while working as a producer at McGarrah Jessee Advertising. E4 Youth now serves over 150+ high school students who are interested in Music, Design, Writing and Film. I can truly say through MAIP, I was able to find something I truly love and I now get to help students find what they love.

For more information on E4 Youth or ways to donate visit:

For interest in my comedy follow me @CCWilcoxson or watch me here: 

The Austin, TX-based comic travels to Portland, OR to perform at "Control Yourself" showcase. Warning content is for mature audiences.