Creatives Offscript: Marni Beardsley, Swift


By Assemble

August 31, 2022

Marni Beardsley is an advertising veteran, with 25 years of experience at Wieden+Kennedy leading and transforming their integrated art production team into a modern content powerhouse. She is now the Chief Production Officer at Swift and oversees their content team along with a 30,000 foot in-house production studio. In this episode she talks about life and lessons learned along the way in her exciting career.

Find this episode on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also available at Creatives Offscript.

Nate Watkin: Marni Beardsley is an anomaly in this industry with 25 years of experience at one agency, the world renowned, Wieden+Kennedy. There, she led and transformed their integrated art production team and created award-winning work for Wieden's legendary client roster every step of the way. As her second act, Marni has now joined Swiss as the chief production officer and oversees their 30,000 square foot in-house studio and team of producers, editors, animators, and more welcome to our show, Marni.

Marni Beardsley: Thanks for having me, Nate.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, of course. So you went to the University of Oregon right there in Nike's backyard, Wieden+Kennedy, of course. Just curious when you're coming out of college, what was your goal? What did you want to be when you grew up?

Marni Beardsley: Well, that's a great question. I went to the U of O where I studied both psych and communications journalism. I was actually first interested in studying the behavior of people. So that's where I leaned into psych. But my creative side kept gravitating me to the J school. So I ended up doing both. When I graduated, I was like, "Okay, I'm not going to go back and get my master's. I'm going to go into the workforce," which leaned into my communications background. Back then there was really no advertising program within the U of O, like there is today. So to be honest, I didn't really know what the hell I wanted to do. I went from there, I waitressed and I did side wardrobe, styling gigs for productions. Styling was always something I was interested. I would naturally style my friends, whether they asked for it or liked it or not. That's just what I did growing up.

And one of these shoots, I was introduced to a producer from Wieden+Kennedy running the set. I immediately asked her a thousand questions. I was like, "So wait, you put this entire team together? You're responsible for overseeing the vision?" It was just like bingo. I immediately knew what I wanted to do. From there I started out entry level at a small agency called Leopold and Cotel wearing a lot of hats. Then from there, I did a short stint at a production company before finally getting into Wieden+Kennedy, which cut to the most wild, utterly insane creative playground, otherwise known as the island of misfit toys. And I never thought I would be anywhere for 25 months at that time, let alone have it go on to be 25 years. I want to say when I started there, there was maybe like 75 people at the time.

There was no open roles in production, but there was what was called then traffic. So, which is now project management. So I went in with the aim of learning and moving into what I knew what was my calling. And back then, I mean, we were talking way long ago, there was only two production entities. There was broadcast in what was formally known as art buying that primarily focused on printing out a home. So leaning more into my love of all things visual and my knowledge of art and photography and fashion design, within a year, I became what was called an art buyer. And almost immediately I was shooting celebrities and Nike athletes with A-list photographers, traveling all around the world. I was way over my fucking head learning as I went, learning from the best of the business. It was honestly a sink or swim environment.

There was no such thing as onboarding or even training, really. You were just expected to dive in and figure it out. Over time, I became the head of the department and then later on, as Wieden+Kennedy opened up other offices, I helped support and set up departments in New York, Amsterdam, Tokyo, London, and Shanghai, again way over my fucking head, but figuring it out as I went, learning from my failures mostly, around the boom of digital and social in like 2005, '06, '07. We pivoted to expand our remit from photography and illustration to events, experiential, activations, live action video animation. We became multidisciplinary producers changing our name and output. I continued to support offices globally to ensure the same evolution was happening across the network, which was a super exciting period of growth and change. I'm the type that gets bored really quickly. And this challenge couldn't have happened soon enough for my team and I.

Around this time, I also became a proud mom of two awesome kids. I remember setting up lunch dates with women leaders in the agency I admired. People like Susan Hoffman and Becca van Dyke and I literally took them to lunch and interviewed them about balancing being a mother and working. I was always a bit of a workaholic. The industry was so demanding and I couldn't quite wrap my head around how it would all work. Back then, it was a far cry from the support systems that agencies and businesses have for mothers today. And it felt like there was a lot of new mothers that moved on by choice. And I loved what I did and I didn't want that to happen.

At the same time, whatever I do, I go all in. So I wanted to be both a great mom and still give a thousand percent to work. Susan Hoffman was just like, "Quit overtaking it. You're born to be a mom, just do it. Everything will fall into place." And she's like, "Besides kids will raise themselves." I was like, "You're insane, but okay." And that's where I'm perhaps most lucky during my time at Wieden.

My direct bosses were Dan Wieden, Susan Hoffman and Bill Davenport. I mean, these are the true legends of Wieden+Kennedy who I'm all very close to to this day, along with the late David Kennedy, of course. They're indisputably the greatest of the greats in the entire industry. And they're even better human beings. They're all uniquely different, but what they have deeply in common was leading by their actions, not words. Their actions, their values were solely around creativity and culture. Creativity about doing the best, most groundbreaking work of your life, work that's never been seen or done before, work that changed the game of advertising and the culture, allowing all the misfits like myself, the crazies of giving freedom and acceptance for all of us to just do us.

Another great Dan Wieden story about leadership and leading by example is the time I got called into his office out of the blue in the most urgent serious way. Now, I was often in his office for this or that, pushing, giving unsolicited advice, listening and being a bit outrageous, shall we say? We would just, he and I would debate we'd challenge each other. We just eat lunch. But on that day I had no idea what the urgency was. I was like, "Oh shit. What did I do now?" Because for once I couldn't think of anything. And when I sat down, he was very serious. And the first thing out of his mouth was, "Are you okay? I just want to make sure you're okay, that the agency culture's okay because you're really quiet lately and that's not like you and the agency, as a matter of fact is too quiet." Everything feels processed, streamlined and normal. And "where's your brand of crazy been, where's the chaos?" All of which was really concerning to him. And I was like, "Who in the hell does that?"

I was in trouble for not causing enough trouble because Dan knew chaos creates energy and tension and debate, which leads to possibility and creativity. He knew the power of disruption well before it was ever a buzzword and this was the culture he created and he wanted to protect all around free thinking, individual expression, radical fun, and possibility. And everyone, you just felt the power of acceptance at every turn that gave you the permission to do all those things, right. Again, just incredible leadership. And these amazing teachings are forever in my DNA. And I am beyond lucky and grateful to have learned from the master.

And then about four years ago, I needed to make the hardest decision of my career and leave Wieden, instead of just leaving departments. I had the opportunity to join the executive leadership team at Swiss, where I could be on the front lines to help set and lead the vision for the agency as the industry continued to radically change and evolve. And of course, I've known about Swiss for years. Its reputation, is an amazing place to work. Being on the cutting edge was well known and as a female founded female led creative agency founded 15 years ago, well it was before it's trend is pretty fucking incredible. So to be able to partner with trailblazing bad asses who are at the forefront of the social movement, the start of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everything, it's been a wild ride. And I've learned so much alongside the smartest kindest, most fearless people. I can't even begin to describe it.

Liz Valentine, the founder who will forever be my friend as well, she went on as founders do with her free entrepreneurial spirit. She passed the baton to another badass woman, to Talia Moleski and Takua's a baller. She's fearless and relentless in her pursuit of making the best work. And like me, she comes from a creative driven agency. She goes back to Crispin and 360I, so we share those values and have a understanding. I've learned so much from her already. We're having a shit ton of fun. And I'm beyond thrilled about our new CCO, Ned McNeilage. He's an old dear friend of mine. We go way back in the Wieden+Kennedy days, Ned's visionary is way ahead of his time at Wieden extending campaigns into the entertainment and tech spaces. He made the most iconic work for Nike and Miller, work that's still referenced to this day, to be honest.

He went on to lead the creative team at CAA for nearly a decade, diving deep into the entertainment space. So having his mix of advertising tech entertainment, it's a perfect vision, perfect fit for Swiss and above all his kind heart and leadership and together he and I grew up watching and learning from Dan, David and Susan putting the work and the people who make it first. So it's kind of funny. It's all come full circle. You got to love the universe for that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And that's a trend I've noticed talking to a lot of successful people is like, you never know who you're going to work with again. It could be 20 years down the road. So it's really interesting to hear that from you as well.

Marni Beardsley: 100%.

Nate Watkin: And just going back quickly to Wieden+Kennedy, you mentioned there that you are somebody that gets bored easily. You need change. So what was it about Wieden+Kennedy that kept you there for 25 years?

Marni Beardsley: Great question. It felt, honestly, it was 25 years, but it felt more like 10 different agencies within that time. You have a change in clients, you have the change in the industry, you have the change in people. I was so lucky, so lucky to have the opportunities to go to all the different offices and set up the departments there and work from there. I spent a fair amount of time in the New York office in particular. I just, I've been very fortunate and I'm a big believer in energy with gratitude leading the way. I've experienced so many amazing things. And my epic failures have helped shape me. Places I've traveled to and the most fascinating people I've met along the way. I mean it just, every day was different going into work. It was not like the day before. And so that kept my curiosity constantly challenged for as long as it did.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It seems like you kind of jumped on a rocket ship talking about when you first joined. It was just 75 people and then you went on to open all these offices around the world and expand the departments. It sounds like something that could definitely keep your interest for a couple of decades.

Marni Beardsley: It did. I mean, I opened up departments and there was a whole team of opening the offices, but I just did my small part, but it was really challenging and really fun and no roadmap. That's also kind of fun for me. I like to make my own roadmap a bit and Wieden allowed me to do that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. How would you say it changed the most from the day you started until the day that you left?

Marni Beardsley: Oh, wow. That was a question. I mean just like how life changes. I mean, that's one thing we can all count on is change. And if you don't change with it, you're irrelevant, right? Obviously the biggest shift was Dan David, the founders basically retiring. So that leadership piece is going to have a huge change naturally. And Dan was always very, very involved and smart about trying to make sure that the next leaders would keep the vision of the agency. And like I said, the values and the principles of the agency. But yeah, I mean, it's just like the world's changed and the industry, the businesses changed. Digital and social did a huge thing and obviously Wieden was rooted in more of a traditional. So the constant learning and reshaping and refiguring out to meet the social demands and the social realities of behavior and how you find advertising in those spaces was a constant challenge and is a challenge to this day for all of us.

Nate Watkin: And yeah, as you mentioned, I mean the industry changed I mean, so dramatically over that period. I mean, just the rise of the internet and social media and just the explosion of content. What were some of the most dramatic changes that you had to really spearhead to adapt your department to the changing times?

Marni Beardsley: Well, skillsets. We were focused on back then stills and out of home. And so going into motion essentially was a big one. And a lot of it was just natural too, though. If you're a creative producer, you get in there and you problem solve. You're an extension of the creative team. You have the desire to make shit happen and problem solve problem solve, problem solve being our second nature. So expanding into different capabilities, it's just second nature. As long as the biggest thing, the most important thing is adding value to the work and hybridized creative producers. In my opinion, now, as we're continuing to evolve, those that can write or edit or art direct or filmmakers themselves, again, adding creative value, it's not only good for the work it's essential for all of us to flex our creative muscles in a variety of ways.

So great producers that have a deep curiosity, taste and passion and an encyclopedic knowledge of artists and photographers and directors, musicians. I've always felt that you can train and teach the fundamentals, but taste, passion, curiosity, are to me inherent or they're not. And it's the most important quality that, of course, and being kind and being able to get along with all types of people, because God knows, this business has got the gamut of personalities covered.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It's interesting. You say taste. It brings up a quote. I can't remember which director said it, but it was essentially, "A director's most important skill is good taste." Right. And that sounds like that resonates with you as one of your qualities as well.

Marni Beardsley: Yeah. Again, you just can't teach it. And there's lots of different interpretations of taste, which is great, but it's that curiosity, it's that taste, it's making something look better than you found it, represent itself better than you found it, adding value to the work. And so its executional excellence right? There is this line that Sir John Haggerty from BBH said 100 years ago. He said, "Advertising is 80% idea, but also 80% execution." Fucking love that. And it's like, if you look at the music industry or the film industry, it's like, Nick doesn't happen without Keith, Justin Timberlake without Timberland, Andre 3000 without Big Boy... You could go into Wonder Girl and all her collaborators. Moving over to movies like David Fincher, like [inaudible 00:17:15] is right there with him all the time. You've got Spike Jones and Vince Landay and Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. It's an extension of the creative team and a creative being that has a desire to make shit happen and adding value to the work, as I said.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, that's creative advice. And so you had the opportunity to do what sounded like a really cool project. I'd love to hear more about it at Wieden+Kennedy. Can you tell me more about the Wieden+Kennedy gallery?

Marni Beardsley: Oh yes. Oh and the gallery's still going to this day. It's so great. Gosh, this is so long ago. So Wieden created a new building in 2000. That's how new it is. And in that lobby was this empty space and my colleague Storm Tar and I were just like, "We need to do something in this space." And we partnered with the internal studio team and started just grassroots on getting local talent to share their work. Different types of artists. And then it kind of grew into more international artists, making sure that we are looking at all the different types of mediums that could be shared in this space. And it's just a great collection of different perspectives, different voices, different artwork, and all of its varieties and a shared space for people to come to and have big events and parties.

It just turned into the center of the agency as well. I loved my time. I miss my time at the gallery. People still hit me for questions or suggestions or this or that, but it's just to give people a voice and an opportunity to share their work is so awesome, especially by pop talent. And they're continuing to do a wonderful job with the gallery even in COVID, still having some great shows. If you're ever in Portland, you need to come check it out.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I would love to do that. Always love a good gallery. And so from there, you've moved on to Swiss as mentioned. Tell me, what does a day in the life look like as chief production officer and are you still doing traditional print out of home or has everything pretty much shifted the video interactive?

Marni Beardsley: It's the whole gamut. It's the whole gamut. It's just so dependent on the ask, from what the ask is from the client, what the deliverables are. We always try to do more. We have this, like you said, a huge, enormous studio space with an industrial kitchen, multiple shooting sets. We can have multiple different productions that go on at any given time there. We do events in that space, which is also really, really fun. And so we either flex and the speed of things, just having that space within the office and just, it's truly a maker culture. It's the heartbeat of the agency, the studio. And have that there makes everything happen so much faster, so much more organically, so much more collaboratively.

It's just, when you come to Portland, you need to also come over and see our space. It's just amazing. It's beautiful. And we also, of course, flex outside of that. And so having deep relationships with the best directors, the best photographers, the best stylists, the best artists, illustrators, animators. So depending on the ask, we will either do it internally or we will flex externally and partner with trusted and upcoming talent in those spaces.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. That was actually going to be my next question, which you kind of answered there, but sounds like you do a blend of in-house and external. But I was curious, are you a soup to nuts, all full in-house production when you need to be? I mean, do you have, obviously, producers on staff, directors, editors, animators, like pre to post is that sometimes on some projects all happen within Swiss's walls?

Marni Beardsley: Yeah, sometimes. We have in-house creative producers that again, and some of those are filmmakers themselves and editors. We have an in-house editorial motion graphics, design. We have permalance photographers and directors. Again, we want to make sure that our output is meeting the brief and the creative vision. So we're still very picky about exactly how is that going to look and feel? And then we just move quickly to determine, is this something that is best done in house? Do we need to flex out? And it's great having both worlds, to be honest.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It's really amazing when you see a creative agency like yourself that just has this amazing internal capability and not just the capability, but the DNA of actual producers and production people to make these things happen. I had a few guests on the show that have a similar model and I think that just seems like a really exciting place to be because you're not only coming up with the strategy, the concept, but then it's like, let's just shoot it. Let's produce it. Let's put it out to the world, all within the walls of your agency. It's amazing.

Marni Beardsley: It really isn't. Sometimes we just play. It's just like let's make some shit and see what happens in there. So to proactively get ahead of things. It's just, again, creative minded people, as you know, we need to be making something. And so even if there's not that specific ask or we want to get ahead or pitch a different idea, we have the resources and the tools right there to do it and we end up having fun. And that's what it's all about, right, is just making great work, collaborating together and having fun. And so the studio space just by design, allows us to do that more readily.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. How many pieces of video content would you say you're producing per year if you know, off the top of your head?

Marni Beardsley: Oh God, I don't. So many different brands will have various work streams and different versions. We just recently did a really fun spot for Purple mattresses. Have you heard of purple mattresses?

Nate Watkin: Yeah, of course.

Marni Beardsley: And that was so much fun and there was probably 10 different versions that we did for that brand and are still launching it now. Also for Gatorade. Moss Valadoss, our creative producer. He's been on six months of just very small, nimble teams traveling around for equity in sport and doing a hybrid of live action and also meshing it with animation. So he's been overseeing two different entities altogether, and I couldn't even tell you how many he has done. The volume is huge. Swiss just does a large amount of volume of work constantly. And whether it's for a six second or a 15 or even a 30, we are constantly cranking out different versions of things and hopefully over-delivering for our clients as we do it.

Nate Watkin: So just to get into some of the operational stuff, because I'm sure some of our listeners would be curious, but how do you manage that? I mean, is it weekly production meetings? Do you have a team of producers that's reporting to you? What does that process look like inside an organization pumping out so much content?

Marni Beardsley: We have weekly meetings. We kick off each week meeting with the producers, the editors, motion graphics, looking at the calendar of what's happening for the week. Of course that's always going to change as the week goes, because that's one thing we can expect so that we can pivot. I also have one on ones just to go deep with everybody to find out how can I support, what can I be doing to help them? Because again, there's new asks that come in all the time. I am so lucky. One of my biggest beliefs is to just hire better than myself, people who are different than me, look different than me, people who make me better. Diversity makes everything and everyone better, more evolved, more empathetic and just bringing on the best of the best. So identifying people's passions in something that unique that they bring to the table. Or even if they're seasoned, what do they bring different than me and the rest of the group?

Because I'm learning just as much from them as they're learning from me and my job is to give them the support they need and get the hell out of their way, let them do their thing and work hard to find creative opportunities for them. I've had the big productions, the big juicy assignments. They're not mine anymore. And haven't been for a long time. It's my job to make space and to open the doors and make the space for people to have the exciting campaigns. Although, if there's ever a campaign taking on the NRA or something like that, no one's going to be able to stop me from poking my head in. But yeah, I just bring in different people. I want people to have a strong point of view, differing opinions, perspective and debate leads to better work period.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Great advice.

Marni Beardsley: And when you come see our space, you'll meet our great team.

Nate Watkin: Don't keep inviting me. I'm going to show up there next week.

Marni Beardsley: Do it. Do it.

Nate Watkin: I love seeing a good production studio, probably even more than seeing an art gallery, so.

Marni Beardsley: You are welcome. I'm not kidding. You are welcome anytime.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, I appreciate that.

Marni Beardsley: We are having events. One of our producers is putting together... Jenny Lee, she's just incredible. She's doing an event tonight. So Netflix is coming tonight. It's for a screening called Street Food. They're coming with the director. Her name is Tamara Rosenfeld and it's about an episode around chefs. And Jenny happens to be friends with one of the chefs. So they are literally coming in. We are having the debut at the studio tonight and a Q&A with the director and it's going to be so fun and she's put this whole thing together. So it's a space for everybody and to learn things that are not just within advertising, but outside of advertising. I think that's so fucking important, right, because it makes what we do better. So I cannot wait to come check this out tonight. And when you're in Portland, if you were in Portland today, I'd be like, "You're coming tonight." But it should be pretty fun and check out tomorrow Rosenfeld's work. It's pretty great.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I love that. Wish I could make it, but I'm sure there'll be a lot of good events coming up there. So I will definitely keep in touch. So while you're at Wieden+Kennedy, you witnessed this incredible change in the industry and your department and everything over those 25 years. What do you think the next 25 years look like for in-house studios at creative agencies? How does your department evolve over the next 25 years?

Marni Beardsley: Great, great question. I'd say continuing the trajectory that we're on, hiring hybridized makers, so that Swiss Army Knife, so long as you have the curiosity, the taste, the drive, is so needed. You need to be flexing in a variety of ways because clients and the work is just like with social driving it as a behavior, everybody wants something immediate, right. So how do you work quickly? I don't see that going away. And so getting a team that loves creating in that space, grew up creating in that space, honestly, with a lot of Gen Z and Millennials, they know how to make content on their own and being a little less precious. When you're hiring those taste makers and those innovators, you got to get out of their way to let them make what they're going to make the best of the way they can do it. So I just see it more of a continued evolution as we are right now. I'm curious. What do you think?

Nate Watkin: That's a great question. And I talk to a lot of people obviously on this podcast about the future and who knows where it's going to go. AI, does that play a part? Obviously, content's just going to continue to be produced faster and faster, I think, and whatever creative agencies or creative shops can do to keep up with that pace and just that nature of content being more real time. So I think that the trend will continue, right? We've seen content production, timelines get shorter, content output get larger and just the pace just continuing to increase. So I think that the agency or production of the future is going to have to be shaped around that. And that may be through technology. Who knows?

Marni Beardsley: Yeah. I mean, technology has allowed us to do so much. I mean ,look at COVID and being able to do remote working. We've always been reinventing how we do almost every production. What we did last time is not necessarily what we're going to do the next time. And so while COVID was certainly the biggest shift and challenge we've ever faced, dare I say we did it pretty quickly and smoothly and learning from each one and getting better each time and technology allowed for that. And people are becoming more comfortable over Zoom and still seeing the work happening in real time and weighing in. But it's also a form of hybrid remote production's here to stay. We've proven it can be done. There's buttloads of money that can be saved, sending a smaller crew and agency and clients can see the work happening in real time. So technology is going to continue to guide us there. But you're right. We're just living in wild, wild, wild times.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, definitely. And I'm a tech guy, so I got to ask what tools did you use to manage that when you had to shift to remote? What's your stack? What are you all running on?

Marni Beardsley: I mean mostly Zoom, honestly, mostly Zoom. Yeah. It's served as a really, really great platform. We have our Slack, we have Asana and other tools that we've used in the past, but for seeing things happening in real time, there's just nothing better than video and doing it that way. It's pretty simple. I'm very curious to know more about your platform. I think it's pretty baller or what you've done to create something by design, by a producer. So I definitely want to hear more about it and have my team learn more about your platform.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I appreciate that. Maybe we'll catch up in Portland.

Marni Beardsley: Yes, that's it. You got to come to our studio and then you can show us all about Assemble TV.

Nate Watkin: Perfect.

Marni Beardsley: That is the deal.

Nate Watkin: Deal.

Marni Beardsley: I like it a lot.

Nate Watkin: Sounds like a deal. So you're a big believer in mentoring. Are you directly mentoring anybody these days?

Marni Beardsley: Well, outside of Swiss?

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Or inside.

Marni Beardsley: I mean my team, but one of the nice things of being also on the leadership team is really having a deeper understanding of all departments, finance and people ops. We can't do anything without that infrastructure and to our data science team, our strategy. Again, I've learned from the best. Dan and Susan, especially, they got deep with everybody. They were never 60,000 feet high and Bill Davenport too. It was getting in with the people and listening and learning and just making sure that they feel supported is just a part of my DNA. And outside of work, I have a couple of people that we keep in constant contact and guy named Tristan Irvin, who I was just talking to last night, I met through Camp Caldera and Juan Kennedy, he actually worked in my department for a bit and is gone on to be just an amazing, amazing artist.

And he's had just the hardest upbringing and he has overcome so much and he's so fucking talented and I couldn't be more proud of him and he's sober now. And we just make it a point to stay in touch and do what... I learned just as much from him. I probably learned more from him. It's probably more of a selfish, selfish thing at this point, but yes, I've been connected to Tristan. I dare I say, 10, 15 years now. And so that'll never stop. I'm so so fortunate to so many people that that will never stop. And like I said, I learned just as much from others. Hopefully they're learning from me. And again, I've had the best examples to teach me that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, so important and outside of work, what are a few things that you're really passionate about?

Marni Beardsley: Oh shit, man. I wish there were more hours in the day. There is so much I want to do and try. I've been working on a screenplay series that I'm really excited about. I wish I had more time to hit it, but I do whenever I can. More opportunities to see friends and family. But my biggest focus is my kids spending as much time with them as humanly possible. They are both highly creative beings. Want to help them soar in whatever they end up doing. This weekend, ironically would be my annual pussy party. Can you say that on a podcast, pussy party?

Nate Watkin: You can say whatever you want.

Marni Beardsley: Yes. Well, I tend to do that anyway. I started this pussy party about, God, 30 years, 25, 30 years ago, something like that. It started out a group of... After leaving college, just trying to keep everybody connected. And then that grew into my work colleagues and then that grew to my neighbors. And then it was my mom's friends, people in the art world. It's just a mash of just amazing women, amazing women coming together. There is no guys allowed. It's just all women and women or people who identify as women. And we all come together just, obviously, to get our groove on and support and learn and meet and connect. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm a connector. So it's my ultimate platform for connecting people. And it's everybody from 25 year olds to seventies.

A couple years ago my greatest moment was looking on the dance floor and my girlfriend who was 23, 24 years old from work dancing, Black woman dancing with this 70 something white woman that was a neighbor and they were just dancing and just connecting and just tearing up the room. It was so damn fun. But also in these pussy parties, it's aimed for supporting an organization. There's always a philanthropic component to it. And while I haven't been able to have it for the last three years due to COVID, I still send out the big email. We rotate where the donations should go. This year's obvious choice is Planned Parenthood and they need our support. We've been taken backwards into the 1800s for our rights. And so getting people to come together to raise money and usually it's a pretty substantial amount of money.

So that always makes me feel good. And coming together with a united front of badass, creative, kind women, I mean, that's just the one entry point. You got to be kind. That's just the point of entry and open-minded and accepting of all types of people, all races, all ages, everybody. It's just a big mosh pit. And it's amazing that my house has not imploded. It's hundreds of women at this point.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I'm not sure if you're married or not. So you kick the husband out? Girls only?

Marni Beardsley: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I kicked the husband and the kids out. I'm like, "bye-bye." And I kick him out for the whole weekend. I mean, a lot of people end up crashing here and we make sure everybody drives home safe, but it's literally... And if [inaudible 00:38:35] he's around the corner, but if he knew the half of the shit that went on, literally I'm not kidding when I say I cannot believe my house has not imploded. And it's like, I send this email out. I just sent it out the other day. It was like, "Oh God, 750 people on it." And obviously all those people are not going to come to my house, but I'll send it out to people that I worked with back to your point of just, you never know when you're going to work with somebody again or stay in touch, but it's really important to me.

Connections are really important to me. And so it goes out to people in Australia, in London, Amsterdam and Shanghai. And it's just my way of saying "hello," that, "I love them. I'm thinking about them. Give to Planned Parenthood." Just women supporting women. It's so important to me and my daughter's so funny. She's just starting to have Sweet 16. She's got her little mini pussy parties, and I'm just like, "right on. Support each other. It's like so important." I think of my young self it's super hard as a woman in so many different ways, especially a working woman, but I am so freaking privileged. And if I look back at my 20 year old self or whatever, I need to have educated myself more on racial injustices, inequities, and then use my voice and influence to do my part in dismantling it.

I just look back and I could have done so much more. And so passing that over to my daughter and her friends and my friends' daughters and their friends... Like, it's so important. And anyway, you asked me about my passion. That's what I would normally be doing this weekend and I'm heartbroken that I'm not, but 2023... Little thing called COVID.

Nate Watkin: Really, there's COVID restrictions now in Seattle?

Marni Beardsley: No. In Portland. No, I just got hit with COVID finally.

Nate Watkin: Oh, got it.

Marni Beardsley: I could not in good faith. I mean, I was planning on having it and people were emailing me and like, "I'm flying up from LA. We're doing this." Finally, I had to cancel. It's just, I can't. Safety first and it's an inside outside party, but still it's inside. And the last thing I want is to get even one person sick.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Well, I got to say I'm pretty jealous. Sounds like an amazing party for a good cause and I love that. So, one last question here. If you could put any one message on a billboard that everyone would see, what would it be?

Marni Beardsley: Wow, that's a great question. On a billboard?

Nate Watkin: Mm-hmm.

Marni Beardsley: I mean, at the end of the day, wanting to create meaningful, positive change in the world, there's so much heartbreak. This is where I'm just struggling, which one to pick. Women, like I said, we've had our rights shipped back to the 1800s. There's unrelenting, racist attacks, people being killed because of the color of their skin, children being hunted down and murdered with military weapons. We got fucking elected officials promoting fascist groups. I mean, what the fuck is that?War in Ukraine, climate change, it's here with a vengeance. It's gaining speed at alarming rates. And obviously, I don't need to tell you or anyone any of this. We live it every day. So if one billboard. I just can't have the one. Can we have a thousand billboards?

Putting people that are promoting awareness and actually making real change, I would put them on it., If I could. Everyone from Greta Thunberg or Amanda Gorman or Elizabeth White or Nicole Cardoza. I mean, they're active on the daily, educating and promoting for real change. John Stewart, just yesterday fighting to extend benefits for veterans. And he unblocked the vote, which is pretty badass. And then you flex into the ad community. People like Cindy Gallup. I mean she's in her 60s. You know who Cindy is, right?

Nate Watkin: I don't, actually.

Marni Beardsley: Oh, you got to learn about Cindy Gallup. She's in her 60s. She's an ad warrior veteran, badass woman. She uses her platform and connections to continually talk about inequities, racial injustice, and ageism. She does not let up. When she sees something, she says something and that's just badass. So all of those topics, I would want to put on a billboard for radical change and those voices, their influences have really moved the needle and we just need to move the needle more. So yeah, I would pass it over to people like them and more that are making change in the world. I mean, that's what's important. That's really the shit I care about.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Sounds like a hell of a campaign. I love it.

Marni Beardsley: Well, NRA I would love to do. I mean, we are working on something right now, but I would love to see that actually take off and make real, real, real change in the world. I mean, one of the reasons I love this industry and this business is the opportunities we have to partner with brands to create messaging around social, environmental, racial injustices. So, we, as a collective in the business, we need to use our voices and our influence and our storytelling abilities to do just that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Marni Beardsley: That's why you got to give me 1,000 more billboards.

Nate Watkin: I'll work on it. I will work on it.

Marni Beardsley: Okay.

Nate Watkin: But awesome.

Marni Beardsley: You can give them to me when you come to Portland and visit.

Nate Watkin: Perfect. Perfect. That will be my housewarming gift for the massive new studio that you all have.

Marni Beardsley: I love it. I love it. I love it. And then we'll hear more about your platform and what you've created.

Nate Watkin: Absolutely, looking forward to it.

Marni Beardsley: All right. When is it going to be? You know what? You know what we could also do is have me back in a couple months and I interview you. That'd be kind of fun because I just been talking about myself and that's no fun, but I as a producer, you came up in and you started your own production company and then now you've created this. That's pretty entrepreneurial and pretty freaking cool. I'd love to hear more. So let's turn the tables and I'll interview you next time.

Nate Watkin: Well, first of all, thank you. I appreciate that. And I would love to be interviewed by you. I actually don't think I've ever been interviewed on a podcast. So that would be a first.

Marni Beardsley: Well we're doing it. We're doing it.

Nate Watkin: We're doing it.

Marni Beardsley: You know what? Maybe we can even do it a little bit differently. We could do it in the studio... Oh no. It's tough. I was going to say maybe a visual. I don't know. We'll figure it out, but just let's change it up because that's what we do, right? We change it up.

Nate Watkin: You guys got the studio, you got the gear. Just let me know. I'm there.

Marni Beardsley: We got the gear. All right. I'm going to interview you. We're throwing this on the podcast because you hit me with some great questions. I'm going to hit you with some too.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I'm a little worried. I'll have to really prepare for that.

Marni Beardsley: Anyone that knows me well, they'll be like, "Nate, run. [inaudible 00:46:23] She's batshit crazy. Don't let her do it."

Nate Watkin: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Marni. This has been an amazing conversation.

Marni Beardsley: And we did it without losing our connection with you in Berlin.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Marni Beardsley: And me having all my glitches.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Big success. Awesome. Well thank you.

Marni Beardsley: Nate, it's been super fucking fun. Thanks for having me.

Nate Watkin: If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and comment to help us spread the word. You can also find more insider content on The Assemble blog and you can find me on all channels at Nate Watkin. And don't forget, if your producing team is in need of a project management solution, try Assemble today to streamline your production workflow. Our listeners received their first month free by utilizing the code "offscript," that's one word, at checkout. You have been listening to the Creatives Offscript podcast, hosted by Assemble.


Are you ready?

Try our project management platform for video production

Try Free