Image Source: Brittany Bravo
Zoila Darton didn’t see herself reflected in the entertainment industry, so she built her own mirror big enough to include reflections of herself and others. Through the looking glass, Darton began a creative revolution with WORD Creative.
“Fundamentally, WORD, which is an acronym for We Open Real Doors, is inspired by little Zoila peering into the world of fashion magazines, TV/film, and other mediums of entertainment and not seeing herself,” Darton tells POPSUGAR. “WORD is for everyone who has ever felt like they’re the only one in their corner: the misunderstood, the rebellious, and the relentless advocates for self-expression.”
Darton founded WORD in 2017, following a 10-year career in the music business as a director of marketing and events for Mayimba Music, Inc. She found herself burnt out and tired of the limits being placed upon the creative people around her, who she believed deserved more than what they were being told they could have.
“WORD is my response to broken systems and what I hope to be a platform for those that know the systems created cannot keep us back,” Darton says. “We open doors, and we lead by example.”
Image Source: Zoila Darton
A natural-born leader, Darton understands that there is strength in numbers and community, and she’s embraced not having to experience the journey alone. The Black-, Latina-, and woman-owned creative marketing agency lives and breathes by its word.
On the company’s website, the agency describes the priority to amplify the voices of “historically excluded communities,” which reflect the creatives who make up WORD. They uphold this commitment by creating authentic content for brands that align with WORD’s vision and the power of storytelling.
The agency is behind powerful campaigns like Facebook We the Culture, Crocs X Women’s History Month for Foot Locker, and Converse’s Día de los Muertos Celebration, among many others. Through the work, WORD is creating the world we want to see.
“We want to be a destination for storytelling.”
“We want to be a destination for storytelling,” Darton says, adding how her five-year plan includes expanding WORD to a full-service studio, “optioning and developing stories that represent the vast beauty and nuances of our communities.”
Her passion for storytelling and art was instilled early on in her life. She was born in an artist commune in Spain and raised in what she describes as an “incredibly eclectic home” in New York City, with parents who were both musicians and came from very different backgrounds.
“I like to joke that I’m reggaeton with a side of bagel and lox because my dad is Panamanian and Jamaican and my mom is Ashkenazi Jew from Eastern Europe but raised in The Bay,” Darton describes. “Both of my parents are musicians, so music has always been an important part of my life. I think I came out of the womb singing.”
Her musical influences were deeply rooted in her Latinx culture and included Latin jazz, salsa, merengue, classic jazz, funk, and iconic artists like Celia Cruz. Through the rhythms, drums, and bass, Darton embraced her Afro-Latinx heritage and celebrates its history and beauty in her work today.
“I’ve always known Latinos to be Black; being from the East Coast and being Afro-Latina myself, this was the norm.”
“I’ve always known Latinos to be Black; being from the East Coast and being Afro-Latina myself, this was the norm,” she says. “Latino culture has always been Black culture to me. We are the manifestation of our ancestors, and for me, that’s my African ancestors who were brought to Panama and Jamaica.”
Darton pays homage to her ancestors and heritage in all that she does, from her time in the Latin music business to the present day with her creative revolution. At the center of it all are the stories we share and the reflections we become to one another.
“Your story could be someone’s medicine,” Darton says. “Sharing your perspective can change the world and becomes a record to remind the world that you were here.”