Q&A WITH MALIK DUCARD ’91
THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
As a lifelong lover of storytelling, Malik Ducard has spent more than twenty-five years helping others share their stories and change their lives.
Some people use social media to make it to Hollywood. For Malik Ducard it was just the opposite. He began his career working on Madison Avenue in advertising at Young&Rubicam, then in Hollywood at MGM Home Entertainment, Lionsgate Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures. But his passion for storytelling led to him working with creators at YouTube and now Pinterest, as the company’s first Chief Content Officer. For more than a decade, Malik has been a leader in the creator economy that has changed the lives of so many storytellers and their communities.
Where does your love of storytelling come from?
My love of stories began at a very young age. My mom was a wonderful storyteller and would tell stories she heard when she was growing up or create others that were both fanciful and factual. When I was ten years old, I began following in her footsteps. I recall making flipbooks, and kids would gather around me at recess as I flipped the book. The animations and voiceovers would bring the stories to life. I always had a love for stories and storytelling. And I’m thankful that I was able to make a career out of it.
A throwback to 2012, when Malik served on Pomfret's Board of Trustees and shared his love for filmmaking.
What stories were you able to tell when you were at Pomfret?
Through the A Better Chance program, I had the opportunity to go to Pomfret, and my love for storytelling was nourished there. I spent a lot of time with friends and teachers making and telling stories on film — with a giant VHS camera that would hurt your shoulder if you were using it too long. And now we have these phones that are 100 times more powerful than the cameras we had back then. They can fit in your pocket. But those experiences planted the seeds of exploration that have grown in me in many ways. I have gone on to work in the video medium at several studios in Hollywood and with content creators at YouTube and Pinterest. I can rewind it back to a few decades ago to the opportunities to explore at Pomfret.
Why do you love to work with storytellers?
I deeply respect and love the effort, inspiration, and emotion the storytellers put in to convey their stories. Whether it’s a film they have spent years working on, a how-to tutorial on redesigning a home, sharing an experience they went through in life, or some humorous content that helps others get through the day, they are all important.
After a career in Hollywood, what made you want to work in social media?
I loved my job buying movies that the studio didn’t produce — essentially getting paid to watch movies — as well as helping architect the early stages of the streaming infrastructure. But I saw my three kids walk past the television to watch YouTube videos on the computer. When I got an opportunity to join the team, I was excited by the openness of the platform. It offered a more democratic way of distributing media and a global opportunity to share stories. In Hollywood, only so many stories can get told. Online platforms like Pinterest and YouTube offer opportunities for diverse voices to be heard. These voices are often from historically marginalized communities that have not been represented adequately in traditional media. That really resonates with viewers and I have ever since felt inspired by how platforms have been able to drive change in those areas.
This week at Pinterest we are announcing the expansion of our Creator Fund, a program built to empower creators from underrepresented groups to share their ideas and stories on our platform and to inspire others. I’m so excited to see the innovation and creativity that comes from these rising stars on Pinterest and how they will contribute to building an inclusive environment in which everyone feels represented and enabled to share their stories.
How have the storytellers changed the economy?
The early YouTube I was a part of was focused on hobbyists and individuals telling their stories. The content resonated with so many viewers, and the creators’ voices went so far and were so compelling. It really started to grow into a creator’s economy. As the creators did more, they needed to do well in order to reinvest into the content they were producing and the stories they were telling. I am happy to have been part of the growth curve. Some went from thousands of subscribers and thousands of dollars in revenue to ten million subscribers and now employing entire teams of people to film and edit their content. They are contributing to the economies of their communities and having a real impact on the communities who watch. They also make an impact on how society and different communities see them. It’s really inspiring.
As Malik shares on LinkedIn, he was blown away after one week at Pinterest.
What made you want to join Pinterest?
When the opportunity to become Pinterest's first Chief Content Officer came about, I was immediately fascinated by the company's mission of bringing everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. Inspiration is a universal need, maybe today more so than ever. I am excited about the opportunity we have at Pinterest to continue building an ecosystem of the most inspiring content and stories from the most inspiring people from around the world. I've been there for four months now and it has been tremendously rewarding to build the team and evolve our vision and product innovation. The role at Pinterest felt like a natural evolution of my previous role at Youtube and in my lifelong journey of enabling great content and inspiring stories that need to be told.
Outside of the office, what do you create?
While I was at Pomfret, I spent countless hours in the darkroom doing photography and in the woodshop building stools and humanoid figures. I learned that I love visual design and composition. Now, I am an avid 3D printing fan. I feel like I am creating back in Pomfret’s woodshop when I make my quirky designs on my computer and send them to my printer. I was just awarded my first patent for one of my designs — something I had on my bucket list for a long time. It was for a design for a mechanical non-battery-operated tic-tac-toe game that actually plays against you using gravity and different mechanisms, and it can't be beaten. I also love to write and have written three books — two children’s books and a sci-fi one. I love sci-fi as a consumer and creator. I am also learning how to play guitar — another bucket list item.
If you were to give a Chapel Talk today, what would you say?
I would say the same three things that I share with creators — because everyone is a creator in their own way. They are a creator of their own experiences. First, follow your internal North Star. There is a lot of noise in the world — what trends to follow, how to do something. Second, have patience. Sometimes your North Star might be ahead of the trends or where things are going but often the world will catch up. And third, failures are more important than everything going well. They can fuel the things that eventually go well. I would also advise today’s students, to give themselves grace and double down on their patience. Stress and anxiety can be somewhat helpful and motivational, but too much of it can wear you down and is not helpful. If you give yourself grace and believe at the end of the day it will be okay. At the end of the day, your struggle might be your superpower.
Thank you for offering up a generous challenge for Pomfret's upcoming Day of Giving. What prompted you to make this gift?
It’s so important to contribute to the next generation. We are in a world that is increasingly changing and challenging. And the answers to those challenges aren’t in the halls of Washington DC, Wall Street, or Hollywood. The answers are in the classrooms, on the fields, and in the laboratories. They are teenagers in high schools. Institutions like Pomfret are helping to form the next generation of leaders. Day of Giving is an investment in leadership. It is an investment in the future.