In 2005, when Barbara Dunkelman was 16 years old, she attended a fan event in Toronto for a web series and comic sci-fi phenomenon called Red vs. Blue.
Created by Rooster Teeth, a media and entertainment upstart from Austin, Texas, Red vs. Blue had rapidly gained an impassioned following for its absurdist spin on the blockbuster video game franchise Halo.
Dunkelman — now a Concordia grad, BComm 11, and as of this September, Rooster Teeth’s new creative director — was all in.
As a teenager, she often felt she “didn’t belong to any group”. Her smile that day suggests someone who’d finally found her tribe.
“It was life-changing,” Dunkelman recalls. “That was my first time meeting anyone from Rooster Teeth, or anyone from the community.”
Before the ascendancy of internet and social media giants like Facebook, Rooster Teeth offered a kind of virtual clubhouse for like-minded members with niche interests.
That powerful sense of belonging led Dunkelman to volunteer at future Red vs. Blue events, and when she graduated from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business with a marketing degree in 2011, Rooster Teeth offered her a job as the website’s first community manager.
Dunkelman’s rise at Rooster Teeth was quick. As its director of social media and community marketing and, since September 2019, its creative director, she has been at the heart of the company’s growth and diversification.
Today, across its many channels and social media accounts, Rooster Teeth has 200 million monthly views and more than 45 million subscribers. And there’s no question of Dunkelman’s influence.
‘At Concordia, I learned how to be a leader’
When Dunkelman relocated to Texas for her first job at Rooster Teeth, the skills she acquired at Concordia helped soften the transition.
“I think the most valuable thing I learned at Concordia was how to work in a group — how to be a leader, and how to step back and collaborate,” she says. “I also learned about social media marketing, which was new at the time.”