REEL WOMEN: Creative Director, Designer Lake Buckley

(REEL WOMAN: Lake Buckley)

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2022 REEL WOMEN – incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Women like Lake Buckley are making “Herstory.”

Lake is a Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist. She works as a designer, creative director, and director at 1stAveMachine. Her brand work includes Google, Instagram, Youtube, Patagonia, Nest, MTV, TEDx, MIT Press, Walmart, Luminary, Topic, Chewy, Coda, Tushy, and Gevalia. She is a California native and enjoys bringing a touch of ordinary magic to her work.

Let’s meet Lake.

What’s your origin story?

I was born and raised in California. I had an alternative upbringing that was rooted in hands-on, outdoor education. Through kindergarten and middle school, we would garden, cook, paint, do woodworking and learn about science through interacting with nature.

This tactile relationship with the world gave me confidence, knowing I could build a treehouse or knit a hat. Since I can remember, I’ve always loved making things and having creative projects; they make me feel super alive and at peace simultaneously.

How did you get into production?

I was in grad school at RISD doing design and just starting falling in love with how expressive motion work could be. I took an experimental film course, and that was pretty much the end. I took it twice, and then after school, I started pursuing directing work immediately. I was nervous initially that I had zero film or production experience, but I asked a lot of questions and did my best to absorb everything I could.

Who were your mentors?

Andrew Sloat, Keetra Dean Dixon, Aaron Duffy, and Patricia Ziegler, in no particular order. It helps when you like someone’s work and love them as humans. I was extremely fortunate to receive guidance and encouragement from them.

My brother has also been an incredible mentor. He’s taught me so much about professionalism, negotiating and taking risks. I am super lucky to have these people in my corner and am forever indebted to them!

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

I was doing in-house design work in my early twenties and could tell that I wasn’t going to be fulfilled down the road. I wanted to feel more engaged by and connected to my creative work. I went to grad school to give myself the space to deepen creatively. Without that time, I’m not sure I would be in a place where I am so fulfilled by my work.

I really appreciate my younger self making that decision and any other moments along the way where I have abandoned a safer, more known path for the sake of curiosity.

REELated: See who else is on the Reel Women List

What drives you to create?

Both a love for creating and a desire to get better at what I do. Perhaps something else will drive me later in my career, but I just simply love the process. It makes me happy.

What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?

Handmaid’s Tale, Euphoria, Insecure, Sex Education, The Queen’s Gambit.

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name three women.

Coffee with Issa Rae, lunch with Nadia Lee Cohen, tea time with Rina Yang and happy hour with Michelle Obama, and maybe Jane Goodall can meet up with me at some point that day too?

There are too many cool women. This was an unfair question. (And my Mom to go dancing with at the end of the day!)

What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?

There’s a massive gender imbalance in the industry. Here’s an article that says more than I will here. I pretty much only work with white, cis men. I love them, they are great, but it’s a problem that the industry skews so heavily towards one demographic. We need to bring more gender and race representation and equity to the field. 

How has having the superpower of being a woman helped you?

I really think my career has been about human connection for the most part. I give credit to my feminine superpower of empathy, inclusivity and gratitude.

What’s your kryptonite?

I have struggled to fully advocate for myself at times, but I’ve been getting better slowly over the years. Now I’m working on having bigger dreams.

When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?

Cleaning my apartment, loving my house plants, failing to get tan, loving my friends, calling my mom, exercising and getting outside, cooking, going out, eating yummy food, dancing, and doing crafts.

Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?

Having a pop’n dinner party with all my favorite friends and lovers! Also shooting a TV series filled with magical realism and a narrative that I really believe in sharing with the world.

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