Growing up believing that if there’s something she wants to do and she puts her mind to it, she can do it has been the grounding for Amanda Alegre’s career. The Manila-born art director credits not only her parents but also her childhood for making her ‘unapologetically, ambitiously restless’ – a trait that she believes is key for succeeding in the industry.
“From that, I built up a love for learning new things, however unrelated to the stuff I already knew about. And ultimately, that is what landed me in AWARD School merely a year after graduating from a Master’s in Business. Whoops, sorry Mum and Dad.”
Let’s rewind a little bit though, before her academic successes, Amanda lived in the Philippines until the age of 21. When she came over to Australia to study, she was confronted with quite a cultural shift. “Being raised on American media mixed with Asian values, I was always acutely aware of how my perspective and upbringing was different from those around me.”
Like many Australian creatives after her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, Amanda found herself at AWARD School, the place where she realised she wanted to be an art director. Though her first entry into the industry began shortly before this, strangely enough through her love of fast food. “Anyone who knows me, knows I love KFC. I grew up on it, it’s nostalgic and comforting, and I just love it. My friend, Jen, who worked at Ogilvy at the time, was looking for someone to help out as talent for some social content they were doing.
“Because she was paying in cash and KFC vouchers, as a hungry uni student, I was more than happy to oblige. It was there that I was first introduced to the day-to-day of an advertising creative, and it sounded fun and exciting. You got to create something new every day, and the creatives I worked with sounded like they enjoyed every minute.”
Post-graduating AWARD School, Amanda was shown first hand that nothing is a substitute for hard work and despite believing that winning awards is great, ‘they’re not the end all and be all. Neither are they the only things that prospective employers look for.’
She adds: “Good work ethic and relentless perseverance are just as valuable when people are evaluating what you can bring to a creative agency. Whilst I feel very lucky and fortunate to have ended up at the Monkeys despite not finishing in the Top 10 in my year at AWARD School, I think a lot of that was my tutors valuing how I worked just as much as what my work was.”
Amanda believes that while great ideas are always good, they’re better coming from those who don’t give up and care enough to put in the time to get to the best version of the idea out there. This logic is one that she employs in all of her work and in particular Share The Secret Recipe for MLA is probably that one piece of work that she believes really changed her career. She says: “It solidified in my own mind the type of advertising that I was truly passionate about - advertising that went beyond advertising.
“It’s not everyday that we can, quite frankly, use other people’s money to help bring some good into the world. And I feel quite lucky to have spent a good chunk of my career working with brands who’ve been more than happy to spend their money making the world a better place, one ad at a time.”
Having been in the industry for three years now, Amanda has had a chance to look at the industry on a deeper level and for someone who’s joined from Asia, it’s no surprise that the lack of diversity frustrates her. Not just on a racial level, but gender based and hiring wise too. “In roles where different backgrounds, different perspectives, different ways of thinking can only produce more diverse work, seemingly ‘unrelated’ experience can actually make you more, not less, valuable within a creative team!
“The industry doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, filled with advertisers.”
Being a tutor at AWARD School now means that Amanda is able to celebrate the young, diverse creative talent who are joining the industry now. And this isn’t the only way she spends her free time, as someone who’s an advocate for ‘good’, she likes to create art for good. In all aspects of life, for her own mental health, to make others smile or to start an important conversation.
With all of that in mind, Amanda’s motive for life is simple: “To have a positive impact, however small or seemingly insignificant, with everything I do.”