REEL WOMEN: Kat Friis – Co-founder, Green The Bid & Producer

(Reel Woman, Kat Friis)

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. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, because women like Kat Friis are making “Herstory.

Kat Friis is an Emmy Award-winning producer with 20+ years of experience in marketing across all product segments for many leading global advertisers. Kat has served on the Executive Committee of the Television Academy’s Commercial Peer Group and is also a climate leader with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. Throughout her career, she has contributed to work recognized by such noted award shows as the Clio Awards, Cannes Lions, One Show, Webby Awards, AICP/Next Awards, Ciclope, D&AD, and the Women’s Image Awards. 

Kat has fostered green production practices for many years on her productions and built sustainability guidelines at organizations she has worked with. In October of 2020, Kat Co-founded Green The Bid to bring her passion for sustainable production to the industry she loves.

What’s your origin story?

My dad was born during the depression so I grew up in a family that never wasted anything. We always knew what enough was and when we had enough. There was no Tupperware in my house, we used empty yogurt and cottage cheese containers to store leftover food. We composted and recycled and re-used. I hated it as a kid and spent a good chunk of my adult life being wasteful and consuming and buying without thinking about the consequences.

When I got into advertising I became a part of an industry that fostered that consumption. On one of my first shoots I saw so much food being thrown away, so much waste. There was a chocolate fountain on set! I loved the work I was a part of but I knew in that moment that I had to do better. It started with small changes and I was lucky enough to connect with 4 other like-minded passionate people in the industry to form Green The Bid in 2020!

How did you get into advertising

I was new-ish to LA, managing a restaurant and working a million hours. My roommate was skateboarding to his job at an ad agency in a t-shirt and shorts. It was so Cali. I remembered watching Thirtysomething (tv show) and thinking how fun it looked when Michael and Elliot would come up with ideas for ads and try and sell them through. My roommate got me an interview for an internship (unpaid) and I showed up on set to meet the owner of the agency and it was bonkers – cameras, gear, crew and talent everywhere – I was hooked!

Who were your mentors?

My first two creative directors – Court Crandall and Kirk Souder. They both taught me about advertising but also about life. They continue to inspire me to this day. My first HOP Monique Veillette. She taught me to never say no and to be an advisor not the police. A valuable lesson for all producers. 

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

My biggest achievement to date is Co-founding Green The Bid – a nonprofit grass roots organization bringing all the stakeholders together in the advertising community to shift our industry to zero waste, carbon neutral, sustainable and regenerative practices. It is my passion and gives me so much joy and makes me feel like I can make a difference.

REELated: See who else is on the Reel Women List

What drives you to create?

The chance to make something or do something that becomes part of the vernacular and the fabric of people’s lives. To hear people in the industry asking to “Green The Bid” makes me feel like I am part of something much bigger than myself and that’s what it’s all about. Being in service of something bigger than me.

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

Anything that Shonda Rhimes touches is gold. The women on her shows are strong. I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy for 17 years – it’s my longest relationship!

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman you would like to attend each function with.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?

I think salary is still the biggest issue in marketing and advertising. Partly because women have been taught that we shouldn’t make waves and stand up for what we are worth, but also because it’s still very much a boy’s club where the men pay themselves well and the women are fighting for what’s left over.

How has having the superpower helped you?

I love being a mentor to other women and learning and growing from other women – so I think if being a woman is my superpower it’s helped me be a better teacher and mentor and partner.

What is your kryptonite?

Candy. Candy is my kryptonite. Swedish fish especially, and anything with coconut and chocolate! Also, war. It breaks my heart and I feel powerless against it.

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

Sunshine and warm weather are my happy place. I’ll do anything and go anywhere if those two things are part of the equation. Riding a bike, brunch with friends, toes in the sand, listening to music, laughing, drinking champagne. I love all of those things. I am also a big fan of my family and spend as much time with them as I can!

Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?

Doing Ted Talks about sustainable and regenerative production!!

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