DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) — “This was the first place I picked up a camera. The first place I touched editing equipment,” CEO and founder of Digital Detroit Media ad Agency Akil Alvin said.
The Detroit School of Arts is where 26-year-old Akil Alvin says he learned the stage confidence he now uses in pitch meetings.
“My first production here was The Wiz," Alvin said. "I was a 10th grader.”
After graduation, he walked away from a college scholarship to start pursuing his dream career—getting paid to create.
He founded Digital Detroit Media (DDM), a full-service ad agency.
“We empower ambitious brands to thrive in contemporary culture,” Alvin said.
DDM specializes in video production and has worked with household names like Ford, Bank of America, and the city of Detroit—the place his brand is named after.
“Whether we’re in California, Orlando Florida or anywhere in between, we saw how Detroit has impacted you. We moved the world with the auto industry. We made you dance with Motown,” he said.
It’s also one of the reasons he has no plans to leave. Instead, he wants to keep building Detroit upwards and he’s starting at the very place that helped build him.
Alvin has started an internship program for students giving them real-world industry experience working with his team on their ad campaigns.
One of his biggest cheerleaders along the way is his former teacher and current principal at Detroit School of Arts Dr. Mayowa Lisa Reynolds.
When they actually see he went to DSA, he looks just like me, he worked in these same spaces and he’s doing this...their minds are like wow,” Reynolds said.
Black CEOs only make up just 1 percent of the fortune 500. Alvin has fought through not only a lack of representation in the advertising world, but also the pressures that come with that.
“It's one thing to tell me what I can do. But it’s another thing to show me someone who looks like me that is doing it,” he said.
He's also proving to be successful growing his company and client list on his own terms.
“And we continue to bring people up as we climb," Alvin said. "Because that is what we have to do.”