Season 5 – epiBLOG 9:
In celebration of Black History Month, I want to recognize all African-American entrepreneurial artists around the globe. Thank you for your contributions to this world that allow us to listen to beautiful music, watch phenomenal performances on the stage and the silver screen, that delight our taste buds with culinary magic, and that beautify our homes with paintings.
I recognize and acknowledge every single one of you — from industries such as fashion design, interior design, dance, animation, sculpting, writing, gaming, and graphic design.
You are all “rock stars” in your own right, and I commend you for who you are and what you do. Thank you!
Today’s topic is on my experience as an African-American entrepreneurial artist thriving in the 21st century.
Mind you, one of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneurial artist –- African-American or otherwise — is promoting and talking about yourself. I struggle with this from time-to-time, so this blog post is a big deal for me.
First of all, years ago I didn’t really see myself as an entrepreneur. I was simply a screenwriter who had every intention of breaking down Hollywood’s doors and letting my presence be known. Through all of the work of sending query letters to agents, networking at film events, dealing with rejection letters, and continuing to write from my apartment, I persisted. Choosing to be a screenwriter was not an easy journey to pursue. Nevertheless, I chose it. I chose to be a screenwriter.
The main obstacles that I saw 20 years ago were the Hollywood Gatekeepers. The “Powers That Be,” as they say. I was looking for a key to unlock that gate, but that search seemed to be like the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”
I never saw my race as one of those obstacles or hurdles to overcome. Although, it’s clearly apparent that racism has played a “leading” role, or at least a “supporting” role, in Hollywood. My eyes didn’t see that two decades ago. I was in my early twenties—with my eyes wide open to so many possibilities. Besides, I was born Black so being who I am had been my only experience in life. I didn’t attempt to “overcome” who I was… nor am I attempting to overcome who I am today in 2018.
Secondly, just so that you comprehend the lenses that I’m seeing the world through, I’ve attended predominately White schools, as well as Multicultural schools growing up. My African-American parents were American diplomats, so I was exposed to many different cultures. My parents taught me to love and accept everyone, as well as to love and accept myself, while acknowledging and being aware of who I am as a Black female.
What this looks like in the 21st century as my career evolved from being a screenwriter, to filmmaker, to educator, to full time writer over the past twenty years, is to always conduct myself with a level of professionalism, integrity, and high standards that I set for myself AND to avoid from living into negative stereotypes that a select few people may deem to be reality. Even though I’m not perfect by any means, I constantly strive to live into my parents’ advice as an entrepreneurial artist.
It never dawned on me that I couldn’t be successful because I was automatically born into a race who can trace its history back to slavery or to sitting on the back of a bus in the 1950s. My success is determined by me choosing me, and not by waiting for others to choose me. Let me explain. Some people will negatively stereotype me based on what I look like, and may not want to work with me because of that. It’s not my life’s ambition to change their minds. However, like the screenwriter of twenty years ago, I persist and I choose me. I choose who I am. By persisting, I’m making myself available to help others as a content writer, screenwriter, blogger, or copywriter. I’m here to serve and contribute to the lives of others through my writing and any other way that I’m able to.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not fully aware that racism exist in America and around the entire globe. It divides us and causes us to create “problems” with others that aren’t even there. It sullies our differences with criticism instead of simply embracing our unique traits that we bring to the table as human beings.
See, entrepreneurs look for solutions to existing problems. They don’t divide and create problems. As an entrepreneurial artist, you’re not only looking for solutions, but you are looking to create in a space where “needs” and “desires” want to be fulfilled on a level that may not even exist yet. That’s what makes us all a force to be reckoned with. We are creative problem-solvers.
Today’s LESSON is to strive to be the best version of yourself at all times.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: Brainstorm some different options of how you can expand yourself by connecting with others and discovering new ways that your business can serve and support others.