One School free portfolio programme for Black creatives launches in the UK

Since launching in the US in 2020, the highly successful course has helped Black creatives learn the ins and outs of the advertising industry, and is “designed to help students bring their authentic voice into their work”.

13 February 2023


In 2020, one of the most impressive creative initiatives saw its beginnings. Launched in the US, One School was founded by Oriel Davis-Lyons (previously creative director at Spotify and now CCO at Mother New York) after he sought to tackle the financial barriers that prevented creatives of colour from pursuing a career in the advertising industry. In the US, portfolio school tuition can reach heights of $40,000. At the forefront of the initiative’s work is what Oriel outlined as “unapologetically Black from start to finish”, prioritising Black tutors, mentors and lecturers. “This isn’t about teaching Black creatives how to ‘fit in’ to a mostly white industry,” Oriel said back in 2020. “It’s about helping them to build a portfolio that is both creatively excellent and 100 per cent authentic to who they are.”

In a brilliant turn of events, The One Club for Creativity (the nonprofit organisation who started the One School) is bringing the initiative to the UK, and hopes to welcome its first cohort of creatives in March 2023. Titled One School UK, the course will exist much like the one in the US – a free intensive 16-week online portfolio programme that is “designed to open doors to a career in advertising” and is taught by Black creative leaders, including former Nike CMO Greg Hoffman. However, the 10 briefs that the attendees work on will be tailored to UK culture, giving them an understanding of the specifics of the industries, but also offering ways of looking past its traditional advertising methods. Held online at 6 PM BST on Tuesday and Thursday, this accelerated course is designed to be accessible to 18+ students from all walks of life.

The UK branch will be run by Ez Blaine, founding creative partner at Uncommon Experience Studio in London. Ez is the perfect fit for the role; he has prior experience with The One Club, leading its Los Angeles branch when living in the city, but he’s also born and raised in Hackney, London. He’s also passionate about what the course represents: “As a Black creative from the UK, it’s very meaningful to me to return here and help bring new Black talent into the creative industry. Our choice of Black lecturers and mentors helps close the gap and exposes students to creative leaders who they can relate to, and allows them to see a pathway for themselves into the industry. This is about teaching students to stand out for their Blackness, be 100 per cent authentic to who they are, and understand the value that brings.”


Head of School, Ez Blaine, Founding Creative Partner of Uncommon Experience Studio.

To bring One School UK to fruition, The One Club has partnered with the communication company WPP. In 2020, WPP put a series of anti-racism commitments and actions in place, which aim to “advance racial equity and support Black and minority ethnic talent”, and the project will exist as part of WPP’s Racial Equity Programme. Discussing WPP’s role in One School, Karen Blackett, president of WPP in the UK, says, “We’re proud to partner with an organisation that shares our commitment to taking meaningful action to support, build and grow the Black creative community.” She continues: “ One School has been described as one of the biggest social change programs in the history of the US ad industry. I can’t wait to see what it can do here in the UK.”


Guest Lecturer Karen Blackett, preseident of WPP UK

The success throughout the One School has been numerous and outstanding. There has been an 84 per cent hire rate for the initiative's 128 graduates, 66 percent of whom are women. With 15 highly sought-after places available, it is stressed that Black creatives from any walks of life are encouraged to apply for the course and no prior knowledge of advertising is required. You can find more details about the course and how to apply here.


Guest Lecturer Greg Hoffman, Former Nike CMO


Tola Oseni, Winner of Clarks Wallabee Boot Collaboration


Boasting an 84 per cent hire rate, One School Alumni have been hired by top tier Agencies and Brands.

Sponsored by

One School

Launched in August 2020, the ONE School is a free, 16-week program that provides Black students with conceptual ideation skills needed to develop big, modern, exciting ideas at the intersection of advertising, culture, and technology.

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