Newhouse alumna Lyla Rose ’18 accepted to advertising diversity initiative Free The Bid

by Micah Castelo

July 9, 2019

The television, radio and film graduate joins an elite roster of female commercial directors

Headshot of Lyla Rose '18
Lyla Rose '18 Courtesy of Lyla Rose

At just 23 years old, freelance director Lyla Rose ’18 was added to a database of women directors from all over the world through Free The Bid, a nonprofit organization working to correct for a history of gender bias when contracting filmmakers for work in advertising.

According to the Free The Bid website, during the bidding stage, agencies typically present three directors for a job. Due to a history of gender bias in film and television production, men have been more likely to be selected to direct projects, resulting in fewer women being able to build competitive reels, which perpetuates the cycle of male directors typically getting the work. Free The Bid asks content producers to pledge to consider at least one bid from a female director for each job; in return, they give those content producers access to their database of female directors. Candidates must submit their reel to Free The Bid’s team for review before being admitted to the database.

Rose says that being taken seriously as a female director in commercial production can be a challenge. With a number of credits to her name, like the music video “Runaway Strays,” which she directed for the indie band Spud Cannon, and her post-production work as an office production assistant for WE tv’s “Love After Lockup,” her résumé is not the issue.

“I face it every single day on set in commercials,” Rose says. “Just this constant disbelief [in] my ability.”

Lyla Rose '18 composes a shot on set.
Courtesy of Lyla Rose

When Rose found out she was accepted into Free The Bid’s roster, she was excited to put a crack in the glass ceiling of a traditionally male-dominated industry.

“I’m so humbled by it and so grateful to be a part of it,” Rose says.

One of the qualities that helped get Rose into the Free The Bid database is her ability to create her own opportunities. During her junior year at Newhouse, Rose pitched and filmed a creative public service campaign video for the Onondaga County Health Department, telling the story of a mother struggling with an opioid addiction while raising her children.

“We got a 60-second spot … on their website and on local TV, which was awesome,” Rose says. “That was the first experience I had with a client.”

During her senior year, Rose directed, produced and edited an anti-smoking campaign video for NY Quits which recently won the Best Art Direction award at the Austin Independent Film Festival. Also during her time at Newhouse, Rose helped produce three commercials for the Newhouse advertising student team’s submission to the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), sponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Under the direction of adjunct professor Bob Emerson, the team took first place in the District 2 division of the competition.

Although Rose started off as an engineering major at Syracuse, she soon discovered a passion for filmmaking. “I just wanted to make something that can stick around and hopefully make people feel, even for a brief second or a couple of minutes,” she says.

Rose encourages students pursuing filmmaking to trust their gut, value community over competition and embrace failure because their work will constantly evolve.

“Don’t wait around for Newhouse to tell you what to do,” she adds. “You have to take initiative.”

Micah Castelo is a graduate magazine, newspaper and online journalism major at the Newhouse School.