O Positive welcomes Thaddeus McCants
Multi-hyphenate talent Thaddeus McCants is the grandson of a Rabbi and son of a Black Panther that brings new perspectives to advertising.
McCants is an accomplished screenwriter, playwright, performer and director. His very first commercial was the 2022 Coliseum Tailgate Super Bowl spot for Avocados From Mexico (which he co-directed with David Shane), filmed during the Covid pandemic.
“No big deal, just a period piece on a mountain in Mexico City with a ton of moving parts,” O Positive’s David Shane recalled. “I'm talking 150 extras, oxen, horses, chariots, stunts. And, of course, I got Covid the week before and missed the first shoot day. Racked with guilt, I flew there that night, telling myself over and over again that I had to save Thaddeus. And when I pulled up the next morning, he’s on a bullhorn directing traffic like Cecil B. DeMille, and I found myself thinking, ‘Who's saving who?’ It takes him a day to absorb the lessons it took me a decade to learn. It's very annoying.”
McCants has gone on to direct commercials on his own, including multiple spots for Progressive’s Replay campaign, among them, Game Plans and the newly released Watch Party, with Kid ‘n Play. They reflect his talent for crafting performances and delivering comedic dialogue.
McCants' credits include eclectic experience in entertainment, with work spanning multiple genres and comedic styles. This year he wrote episode six of season two of Julia on HBO Max and created his own upcoming original series Lit Lounge for BET. He’s written multiple AUDIBLE originals with James Patterson & VICE Media. He’s directed TV pilots and short films for fellow UCB comics (where he used to be on the NYC Mainstage). He’s been seen as an actor in Boardwalk Empire, in the original cast of Disney’s Freaky Friday the musical and in several other Off-Broadway shows. And as a playwright, he’s been honoured as a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow, a Theater Masters Visionary Playwright, a Blue Ink Award winner and Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist.
It was the theatre that led Brooklyn-based McCants to O Positive after he met David Shane in the graduate dramatic writing program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “It all really started when I told David he had a super cool backpack in the lunchroom,” he recalled. “At the time, I had no idea he was one of the most prolific dudes in the commercial industry. I just knew him as a hilarious writer, a generous classmate and a dude with a sweet Batman lunchbox.”
“Thaddeus is one of the most talented and lovely people I've ever met,” Shane said. “I just kind of vibed with the material he would bring in, smart, funny and 15 degrees off centre. I’d always be a little disappointed on the days it wasn’t his turn to share. He has a real voice and that’s something we’re always looking for in our directors.”
“Artistically, O Positive is interested in the same things I am,” McCants said. “Idiosyncratic, human moments of comedy that illuminate brands. At my core, I am a storyteller. I love creating moments that stay with audiences long after the commercial has ended. My unique background (Black and Ashkenazi Jewish, grandson of a Rabbi, son of a Black Panther, Chitlin Circuit meets the Borscht Belt) allows me to bring new perspectives to advertising and new levels of engagement for brands.”
“Above all, I’m a director who values diversity, parity and sustainability,” McCants added. “I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to direct commercials with O Positive, for the amazing agencies who’ve supported my career so far, GSD&M, Arnold, VMLY&R, Wieden+Kennedy, dentsuMB and to everyone who is dedicated to creating a more diverse and equitable advertising industry.”