Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.
A copywriter by day, a dancer by night, and a rabid Seinfeld fan around the clock, Crystal Small is anything but small. She is hugely talented and has spent the past decade writing campaigns, websites, and long-form copy across a variety of industries, including entertainment, non-profit, food, health & wellness, and more.
Some of her clients have included Easterseals, Thermador, Wells Fargo, Sony, Astroglide, and The Mirage Las Vegas. Creative to her very core, she has also written screenplays, short stories, poems, and blogs. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her scouring Los Angeles for little-known comedy shows.
What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? I was a strange child. I knew that I wanted to be a copywriter in the 4th grade. I already loved to write, and I met a woman at a career fair who told me about advertising. To me, persuasive writing seemed like a superpower. I thought to myself, “Imagine being able to change someone’s behavior with your words.
How Did You Get into Advertising? I went to USC and majored in communication with an advertising minor. During my senior year, I interned at a public relations firm to explore a different kind of writing. Turns out, PR just wasn’t my thing. My boss agreed to let me write ads for our clients in addition to our PR services, and I was able to build an advertising portfolio that way.
Who Were Your Mentors? I had a few professors who were active in the industry and often shared their real-life work in class. I was fascinated by how their clever brains worked. I’m grateful that they were always happy to share their thought process with me.
Biggest Achievement? I’m going to take “biggest” to mean “most satisfying.” At work, I’d say it was writing a jingle—and then winning an award for it. Outside of work, it’s the time I wrote a humorous personal essay for an open mic night and got big laughs from the audience.
Biggest Disappointment? I think advertising is more of a series of little disappointments on the way toward bigger achievements. Over the years, I’ve written tons of lines, scripts, and concepts that I fell in love with, but that have never seen the light of day.
Pet Peeves? I have an entire Instagram account dedicated to poems about pet peeves (check out @everydaybetrayal). One that really grinds my gears is when I receive an “urgent” email that that is definitely not urgent at all. I’ll respond in a timely manner anyway—you don’t have to try to trick me.
Predictions for Advertising Over the Next Decade It’s getting easier and easier to reach extremely specific audiences. Strategy plays a more prominent role than ever before. I think we’ll see very few big, broad campaigns, and many more tiny, niche micro campaigns.
Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People I was a pizza delivery driver for a summer during college. It surprises people because this was before Google Maps was a thing, and I have a horrible sense of direction. I’m constantly getting lost. To all the customers who received cold pizza an hour late, I’m sorry!
Which Marvel or DC Superhero do You get to Play? I’d play Batwoman. I like the idea of being able to create and control my superpowers with technology as opposed to leaving them up to fate.
What do You Wish You Had More Time For? I wish I could spend more time writing things for myself outside of work, like screenplays, short stories, blog posts, and personal essays. I’m usually only working on one of those things at a time.
What Drives You to be Extraordinary? I’ve always found it much easier to get a point across in writing than to say things out loud. I have a very active imagination that happens to manifest itself in written words. I’m very glad I was born into a generation that loves texting.