The Reel Black List: Nathalynne McGinnis, Producer

Nathalynne McGinnis

Nathalynne McGinnis

Nathalynne McGinnis’ positive attitude and deep experience make her a joy to work with, and she is well respected in the industry. She is currently a freelance senior business affairs manager at Ogilvy/Chicago, but maintains her love of producing.

Nathalynne began her career in the general advertising world at FCB/Chicago. She rose through the ranks from receptionist to VP/executive producer, then enahance her skills at Burrell Communications in 2012. She has produced award-winning creative for Quaker, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, S.C. Johnson, Coors, McDonald’s and Toyota.

Nathalynne is a longstanding proponent of work-life balance. In her spare time, she attends industry events, supports breast cancer-related and women-centric initiatives, runs half marathons, shoots and posts her photography and spends time with her dog Tippi. She dabbles in on-camera acting, and voiceover lessons are not far behind.

What was your first break?

Careers in advertising were non traditional for Blacks in the 80’s, even though there were more Black agencies. I saw a niche while at a GM [General Market] agency and went for it. Working my way up through the ranks came with obstacles and accolades. Betting FCB history would make me the 1st female AA executive producer. (Scratching head)


Worst thing that ever happened to you to remind you that you are Black?

There are two, one as a child the other any adult.

In the 60’s, the family drove from Chicago to Mississippi to visit family. The further south we got on I-57, we would say we had to go to the bathroom and my dad would answer “we can’t stop.” Inquisitively, we would ask why. He replied, “it may not be safe you’ll have to go on the side of the road”, “we were not allowed to use gas station toilets”. And the segregation conversation continued.

When I was bidding a job for a major brand featuring an AA [African American] family. I thought it would be beneficial to invite an AA director to bid (AA sensibilities and all, if you get my drift), and score some points for forward thinking with the client. Well, it didn’t go over well internally, the CD didn’t think so and said point blank “if the client doesn’t think so, why should you”. Later he relented.


Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are Black?

If my name wasn’t a give away, my voice was not any indicator of race. In my early years, at first meetings with directors and their staff, there were awkward greetings and encounters. I had to demand respect with a few. It was pretty obvious I had crossed a threshold.


Work you are most proud of?

It would have to be FCB’s past pro bono client EarthShare, the not-for-profit is an umbrella for all the environmental organizations. Famous celebrity photographer Timothy White shot my favorite spot, using Harrison Ford’s narration.


How has the business changed since you broke in?

Wow! Don’t think there is enough room here. Budgets! No passion for the Advertising process. Too much focus put on winning awards. Mentoring is non-existent. Everyone is so overworked and salaries are non-commiserate, except for the chosen few. Lack of staff training and few ask questions. Very little diversity hiring in GM agencies… Bla bla blah!


Trapped on an island what are the creative essentials you must have?

A camera, paper and pencil.


If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self?

“You done good.”


If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why?

It would have to be Gordon Parks. Mr. Parks captured the essence of Black life in his photographs and in his films.

To read about others on The Reel Black List, click here.