How Social Media Changed Creator Ornella Kolle’s Life
Ornella Kolle knows how to catch your attention. Whether it’s for a brand campaign she’s shooting, or her personal Instagram feed, it’s impossible to look away from her perfectly styled shots that burst with color and texture. A Parisian living in London, she’s shaking up the way we perceive advertising and content. We spoke to her about how social media life changed her life for the better and how she wants to challenge gender roles particularly for women of color.
You’re involved in a variety of creative fields, what are all the different things you do?
Ornella Kolle: Ever since I was a child people have told me that I’m creative, but I couldn’t see it at first. When I moved to London and especially since studying advertising at the University of Arts, I had people around me pushing my creative boundaries. Right now, I’m the social media editor and content creator for East Village London and I am also creating content for brands through my Instagram page @orneiineii.
What do you like about expressing yourself through different media such as photography, writing and creative strategy?
I love it! I’ve always been a fake introvert (I am an extrovert that is petrified to express herself sometimes) and through Instagram, I was able to create, share and build a community of like-minded people around me. I have always been into writing, when I was about 13 until I was 17, I used to write poems about how I felt and shared them with people online. I mean, people get to know me intimately through the different media I use. I give a bit of me in everything I’m doing.
You live and breathe Instagram, what excites you about this platform?
I’ve been through so much via my Instagram, it used to be the place where I shared pictures of me and my mates on a night out. Then, in 2015, I went to New York and got a camera to capture my trip, started taking more portraits, really got into it and dedicated my Instagram to my photography. In 2016, I joined an influencer agency called Takumi and started creating content for brands and realized, I absolutely loved lifestyle shots. Now, Instagram is my portfolio and mood board. I love the fact that everyone around the world can see what everyone else is up to and get inspired. Before Instagram, it was harder to make international friends and experience a city unless you were going there or had friends there. Post-Instagram, I have friends all over the world, I can feel the energy of a place without being there and I can plan my holiday better (is it Instagram-worthy or nah?).
You created a women’s magazine as part of your graduate work. Can you tell me more about that?
It’s been the hardest project I’ve worked on so far. I was talking about sexuality with 15- to 26-year-old women that I met on the Internet. While I was at university, I wanted to know why so many young girls were getting pregnant in this day and age when we’re really trying to empower girls to educate themselves, be entrepreneurial and stand up for themselves. That’s how ‘London ain’t hitting bareback’ was born. I felt that besides coming from the government, the sex talk was never really a thing. Coming from Paris and looking at my group of friends we were ”mature” on the subject and talked about it a lot. I wanted to bring that to the table in London. There’s nothing wrong with being sexually active, as long as you protect yourself from STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
What changes would you like to see in the advertising industry?
Where do I start? [laughs] When I was involved in advertising I thought it was changing and moving forward. But really, people are too busy thinking about winning awards rather than actually trying to help the consumer make decisions. I would actually like to see more people from minority backgrounds in senior roles, more women as creatives and for people to stop saying ”we want to target millennials” it’s so outdated.
One of the first things I noticed about you was your fashion sense. What designers do you like wearing? How would you describe your style?
Thank you. What designers do I like wearing or what designers would I like to wear? [laughs] I don’t wear designer clothes, I am too broke, although I like, Balenciaga, Céline, Chanel, and Gucci. My style is everything you can find in the ASOS sale section, that’s how I would describe it. The pieces no one really wants to wear, styled in an unexpected way.
What do you like most about living in London?
When I came to London I was young and naïve. The city helped me grow professionally and personally, it’s my city of struggle. It was never easy, London is like a mate that teaches you life. I am forever grateful for the people I have met, the opportunity I’ve been given and for making me who I am today. I learned how to be myself, aware that being a creative black woman is great and that I’ll be successful if I work hard.
What’s next for you personally and professionally?
I don’t know, I want to travel more. I went to Cape Town in September and I loved the energy. Maybe, focus more on my first love, photography.