I was 8 months pregnant when I got the news that one of my acting students booked a series regular role on a tv show. I was 8 months pregnant and at my baby shower. I was supposed to be celebrating new life: my coming personal triumph of becoming a mother and her coming professional triumph of becoming a star. I wasn’t happy for either of us. I was jealous.
The Student was going to go off and launch her career, and I was stuck having a baby. I hadn’t even had a small tv role yet, and I was a part of helping someone achieve massive success. I felt stupid. I felt stuck. I felt left.
I figured out how to enjoy the baby shower, but I spent the next few months loathing the idea of pausing my non-career to take care of a baby. I wanted to act so deeply, yet my life was moving in the opposite direction. When I should have been taking it all in, I was just getting through it. Nursing. Changing diapers. Clothing him. Carrying baby bags. Yuck. I wanted to be on set.
She was living my dream, and I was playing house. I’m laughing right now at how utterly ridiculous this sounds, but this is truly how I felt. I believed a lie.
There have been a handful of times I’ve felt jealous of someone else’s success, and they all felt terrible. When I get jealous, it’s normally of another actor. It’s professional and rarely personal. It SUCKS. On the outside, I am gracious. The week of my baby shower, I’m sure I congratulated The Student because this win was a HUGE accomplishment, and in this case I was extremely proud. I just wished I could experience what she was experiencing.
So, I’ve never figured out a way to get rid of jealousy for good. I don’t have a four-step strategy for getting rid of it in the moment, but I can tell you what I learned from this experience that gives me perspective when I start to feel jealousy creeping in again.
1. My eyes were on her journey when they should have been on mine. Learning about The Student’s win made me discontent with my own career, and I focused on that discontent. I will never get those first few months of my son’s life back, no matter how hard I try. I completely missed the point of that season of my life wishing for another season. I had a miracle right in front of me and couldn’t see it. I pray I never do that again.
2. I wanted something I didn’t even work for… The hard reality is that until The Student booked her role, I didn’t even know that was a real possibility. I hadn’t been working towards that goal, and she had. She didn’t do anything wrong. She worked for what she wanted, and she got it. It’s simple. If I wanted a version of what she had, I needed to first make it a goal and then work towards it. The Student’s win wasn’t something to be jealous of. It was something to be inspired by.
3. Her win was my win. When I teach acting classes, I really give my students everything I have. Seriously. All of my tools. All of my knowledge. I’m not holding back for fear that they’ll pass me. I want them to win. In this case, it happened. And that means I’m good at what I do. When The Student got on set, she did a good job. That meant she was well-trained. I’ll drink to that!
I can honestly say I am not jealous of The Student anymore. She continues to win, and I’m extremely proud of her. Since working with her, I’ve helped groom other BEASTLY young actors with full confidence that they will win in a big way too. My motherhood journey is a story for another day, but I will say I’m mentally present for my son’s life, and I’m thoroughly enjoying being a mom.
Lastly, I’m proud of what I’m accomplishing in my own career. When another young black female actor gets a role that I’m right for, sometimes I feel it. But I’m honest with myself about it. I pray about it and ask for perspective. I remind myself that their win doesn’t take away from who I am and what I’ve accomplished. There is plenty to go around. I’m winning in my own way and in my own time, and I will not miss my life wishing I had someone else’s.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.