I’m working hard on my self-care, but most days I feel like I’m growing at a snail’s pace. When I do notice some growth, I get very excited and try to celebrate the moment. Well, I had a win over the weekend that I want to share with you.
Sunday, The Man surprised me with tickets to Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous at the Alliance Theatre. He gets so many cool points by the way for setting up a VERY Cyrah date. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the show, laughing incessantly and soaking up the playwright’s words.
We were leaving on a high when I recognized a stage manager I worked with before. I would’ve normally just walked out, but she was so kind to me on my last play, I wanted to say hello. I walked up to her and said hey. I reminded her of the show we worked on together, and she asked what I was up to. I told her I was currently in a show that runs in June. She asked me what theatre, and my mind went blank.
I looked crazy. In the Atlanta theatre community, this woman is an industry mover and shaker. She knows everyone who’s anyone. She started rattling off the names of theatres, and I said no to the ones she could remember, but my mind gave me nothing. All I kept thinking was “Alliance” because…that’s where we were. Finally, she said, “You don’t know where you’re working?”
For me, ego manifests itself as a need to be acknowledged as amazing and worth loving. It’s an addiction to feeling important. The moment she said that, my ego was challenged. I think this is what happens when people get defensive. We start defending our importance to make us feel better about ourselves. In that moment, I could have let that effect how I felt about myself, but I didn’t.
I told her the name of the show, and that I couldn’t remember the name of the theatre at the moment because I was still basking in the glow of what I’d experienced. This was the truth. I watched four actors do great work, and I was inspired. I was in that post-show high. My mind was on what they’d done, not promoting my thing. So, when she asked me about my thing, my brain had nothing. I told her when the play opened. She assured me that she’d see it, and she left.
Let me tell you why this was a win. I may have looked crazy to her, but I authentically DID NOT CARE. I said hello to her because I enjoyed working with her, not because I wanted her to do something for me. I may have made a fool of myself by not being able to promote my upcoming show, but I wasn’t embarrassed. I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m doing it. I’m good at what I do. I know the play I’m working on, but I had a brain fart. It happened, and I was fine with that in the moment. I didn’t beat myself up. I didn’t try to redeem myself because I didn’t need redeeming. I knew who I was.
Months ago, I would have rehearsed this moment over and over, trying to figure out how to avoid it in the future. I would have immediately contacted her on Facebook the moment I remembered the name of the theatre. I may still do that, so she has accurate information about the show. But I’m impressed with myself because I’m not pressed. After she left, I continued to bask in my post-show high and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
At some point, I probably will get caught up in ego and have to check myself. I’m human. But for now, I’m celebrating this moment. I wasn’t caught up in what someone else thought of me. My self-worth was rooted in something deeper. I didn’t let ego suck the joy out of my beautiful evening. I kept it moving, and I’m proud of myself for doing so.
If you’ve seen me in person within the last four weeks or you’ve seen my audition tapes, you know I am wearing my hair naturally curly. Sometimes it’s in twists. Other times it’s in some variation of a curly fro. Most of my friends still do a double take, even after seeing me like this for weeks. I look different. And I don’t know if I like it…
Sometimes I feel like an adolescent from my hairline up. Sometimes I feel like a rebel. Sometimes I feel strong and confident. Sometimes I want to throw a hat on and hide, but I can’t. I would just look like my hair is trying to escape the hat. Too many kinks and curls.
Just seven months ago, I told a friend I would never wear my hair natural. He laughs at that now.
If I don’t know how I feel about how I look, why am I doing this? Simple. My hair was a business decision. My manager suggested that I give it a try. Apparently, the industry trend for black women is that we wear our hair natural now. I completely missed the memo.
For the last two years, I’ve worn my hair braided up under units (aka wigs). Four years before that, I wore my hair braided up under sew ins (aka weaves). Before that I relaxed (aka permed) my hair off and on for years.
I did the extensions because they were EASY. Purchase hair. Schedule an appointment. Someone else does all the maintenance. If you wear a unit, take that bad boy off at night and sleep like a baby. Sidebar: My mom used to say “bad boy” all the time. That made me smile.
I’ve technically been growing natural hair for six years under extensions, and my man has been begging me to wear my natural hair. I laughed at him. I thought he liked the idea of me wearing my natural hair out but didn’t know for sure if he would like it because he’d never seen it. Also, he doesn’t do hair, so he’s useless if I’m in a bind and need help with my hair. By the way, I know A LOT of black men that have strong opinions about black female hair and know very little about what it takes to take care of it . . . I digress. He got over it.
So here we are now. My kinks and curls are free, and I’m…. Who knows? I’ve been acting for about eight years, and I always thought the industry thought twists, braids, locks, and curls were considered too ethnic. To avoid getting the “hood” black girl character auditions, I went in the opposite direction. I wore my hair in a safe straight bob. To a certain extent I succeeded. I typically get auditions for the non-threatening negro.
Can you blame me? The women I looked up to as a kid got a fresh relaxer before every job interview or big moment. My sister and I got our hair pressed as a part of our Easter Sunday ritual. Hair bone straight. Edges laid. Over time, I think I developed a disconnect with my own hair.
When people compliment my natural hair, I typically question it. When someone says, “I love your hair,” I’m secretly wondering if they’re just saying that because I caught them staring. People do all sorts of things when they’re uncomfortable. Actually, I'll take in a compliment from a black woman. If she's lying, I at least know she understands.
Getting to know my hair and my personal style is going to take some time. If you see me running into the hair store to get 30 inches, this experiment is failing, and I’m relapsing. On the other hand, if I grow a messy mane of curls, I'm getting the hang of this. Either way, pray for your girl.
I started this blog because I’ve struggled with mental health issues for years, and I finally decided to do something about it in 2018. My self-care became a priority for the first time in my life, and I wanted to document the journey. When I started dealing with my mental health, I realized a lot of my black female friends were dealing with anxiety and depression but putting their self-care on the backburner, like a did for years. So, I’m hoping my vulnerability will help folks deal with their issues head on. I’m hoping my journey makes the mental health thing less scary. AND I’m hoping that sharing my failures and triumphs will hold me accountable to what I believe… I am responsible for my self-care and mental health. If something is off, it is my responsibility to take action.
I named this blog, “My Black Can Crack” because African American women have been fed the lie that we have superhero strength. I was taught by example how to push past pain, ignore my needs, and take care of others at the expense of myself. The phrase “Black Don’t Crack” normally means we age well. And we do! We can’t help it. Being fine is in the genes. But I used to believe that statement meant I could handle large amounts of pressure without breaking. Life can suck, but you’ll never see me sweat. I won’t crack.
Well, I’ve learned from experience that I’m not superhuman. I’ve cracked a couple of times under the pressure I’ve put on myself. I cracked privately, but there were seasons when I was so stressed, I started losing my hair. I suffered depression and anxiety in silence, having breakdowns at home. I put on the game face when I walked out of the door and outperformed my peers at work and in school. I was looking good on the outside and miserable on the inside. So… “My Black Can Crack.”
I’ve officially been on my self-care journey for six months now, and we’ve talked about a ton. This week, I want to give you a progress report. What have I been doing over the last six months regarding my self-care?
I play no games with my morning routine. I get up at 5 am, pray, spend some time reading (the Bible and a book on an area I need to grow in.) I work out at 6am for 30 minutes. I don’t drink coffee, so this is the way I wake up my body. No matter how I feel when I start, I always feel refreshed and alert when I’m done. Recently, I’ve made my morning routine non-negotiable. I’m not perfect. There are days that I’m exhausted, and I let myself sleep a little longer. But more often than not, I’m up at 5 am. There’s nothing like having two hours of peace, quiet and self-improvement.
I am still going to therapy. Last October I started going to therapy. I had a one-hour session every week. After a few months, I made progress. We’ve gone from a weekly session to a bi-weekly session. It’s going well. My therapist helped me identify some of my unhealthy thought patterns that led to unhealthy habits, and I’ve successfully made some changes. Overall, I feel more emotionally balanced. At moments, I’m even happy. This is huge improvement from where I was just six months ago.
I attend a small group for young marrieds. My church sponsors small groups to help build community. My husband and I joined one for young married couples. We regularly read books on marriage with the group. We talk out our issues in a safe group setting. We have a small community of couples that we can count on for support, and we are there for them as well. When I started my self-care journey, I really wanted to have a better relationship with myself. My relationship with others is improving too!
Overall, how am I feeling? My emotional health has been stable. I’m not over the moon excited. I’m not down either. Most of the time, I’m good. That’s the best way I can describe it. My soul is quiet. Peaceful. Six months ago, my insides were all over the place, but I’m currently pretty stable. I unknowingly got off the emotional roller coaster.
I have the tools to know when a depressive thought is trying to take root in my mind. I can feel it. I can now talk it through and let it pass. It takes me a matter of hours to work through something that used to take me months. Now that I think about it, I need to take myself out for some ice cream or something. I’ve made some positive progress. I’m proud of myself!
What do I need to work on now? Now that I have the tools to deal with depression and anxiety in a healthy way, I have a new challenge to deal with: boredom. I’m so used to a chaotic emotional life, I don’t always know what to do with peace. So, I’m working on it.
I’m the same way with down time in my schedule. If I’m not working on a project, I get antsy. I have a play coming up, but a couple weeks ago, I almost got a part time job at a smoothie shop because I had some free time. I almost forgot that I would only have the job for a couple weeks before having to quit! I have commitments in the coming months. I just felt like I needed to fill my free time with something. Anything. As long as it was legal and ethical. Your girl needs to work on not always having a million things going on at once.
Over the next six months, hopefully I’ll handle peace better. For now, I’ll just keeping walking it out and sharing my progress with you. Thank you for being here with me and making this experience a rich one.
When I wrote my last post For the Girl With No Game, I had the nagging feeling that I was hiding a part of my identity. I said that sex is a healthy, positive, human experience that should be celebrated. I was essentially saying that there’s no way to have game if you have a negative view of sex. I agree with that wholeheartedly, but what I didn’t say is that I was abstinent before marrying my husband.
In this self-care journey, I’m “Marie Kondoing” my beliefs: figuring out what needs to be chucked and what is worth keeping. I’m a devout follower of Christ. Most of my life, I’ve had a clearly defined world view, but I have to admit that most of my choices growing up were more about church pressure than wisdom. Being abstinent was no exception.
As a grown woman, I’ve evolved. I refuse to blindly follow anyone or anything. I want to have a deep sense of understanding why I do what I do, and I desire the kind of faith that comes from the gut instead of the culture. So, that leaves me here… Sitting in the middle of my thought life, deciding what to make of my pre-marriage abstinence.
Sex has such an icky stigma in church. When I was a teen, the messaging I got was, “Wait until you’re married, or your life will be ruined.” When I got married, the conversation was, “Make sure you have lots of it, or you won’t to keep your husband.” There was so much fear around it that it took a while for me to enjoy it. If nothing else, I just wish the vibe around the conversation was different in church.
On the other hand, I would say that I’m proud of myself for having a counter-culture conviction in America and sticking to it. As a teen, I believed that God wanted me to save sex for marriage. I didn’t know much more than that, but it was enough for me to make a decision about what was important for me at the time. I had friends that were sexually active, and I think I was fine with that. But I didn’t allow anyone to pressure me into doing something I didn’t want to do. At sixteen, I was a person of conviction. That’s boss! I struggled with a lot of other issues, but peer pressure wasn’t really one of them. That has served me well as an adult.
Looking back, I wish I had a stronger “why” at the time. I don’t think “because God said it” is a good enough reason for anyone to choose abstinence. Not that statement alone anyway. Ultimately, that’s why I choose it, but there was so much more value to that particular choice that I didn’t see.
I should have been using that time to make decisions about what I wanted out of my relationships, out of sex and (for me) out of marriage. There were so many questions I could have answered for myself during that time, but I didn’t ask because I didn’t know to ask.
If I could do it all over again, I would have dated to find someone with an aligning purpose in life. And I would only tie my soul to that person after we were clear on our vision as a couple. In retrospect, I think I needed to be abstinent to have that clarity of mind, the time, and the emotional space to define what I wanted. I also needed the ability to make a clean break with someone with a conflicting vision.
Abstinence simplifies things. I have a few friends now that were also abstinent before marriage, and we all had the gift of discovering sex with one dude. I’m not saying that won’t change because… well… life happens. But I think there’s something beautiful about simplicity. One could argue I’ve missed out on some adventures, but if I’m sexually satisfied with what I have at home, is that missing out? Or is that contentment? If I’m happy, I think that’s the point.
Abstinence also helped me learn the value of boundaries. Through my journey, I learned how important it is to state what I’m comfortable with up front. Clearly defined lines. Crossing that line or even trying to see how close one can get to the line tells me a ton about that person’s regard for my desires. There were times when I wasn’t up front about my boundaries (for fear that I’d scare a guy off), and that blew up in my face. I couldn’t be mad that someone tried my boundaries because I never stated what they were in the first place. My personal and professional relationships are now healthier because I know how to communicate my intentions up front. Sidebar: Boundaries by Henry Cloud is an excellent read if you’re struggling with this by the way.
All in all, I wouldn’t change my decision to be abstinent before marriage. Today, I thoroughly enjoy sex and have a life partner with similar life values. If I could, I would change the energy around the conversation about sex in church and empower people who want to be abstinent with the information to maximize their time and energy.
I’m going out on a limb here and talking about yet another thing I’m not an expert on… The art of seduction. As a matter of fact, I had NO game when I was growing up. No game and no resources to help me get game.
I was raised in a strict Christian home, and the only conversation we had about sex was, “Don’t do it.” So, I never really explored flirtation or any of that. The expectation was that I would stay focused on my studies in school, build a career and get married when I was old enough. How I was supposed to magically know how to attract someone when I was old enough to get hitched is beyond me, but my point is that I didn’t know how to engage with men without making it purely platonic.
Funny thing… I ended up getting hitched to my best friend before I figured out how to flirt, so I guess my parents have the last laugh there.
However, I did get over my seduction issues in a surprising way. In all the time I’ve been an actor, I’ve been asked to audition for love interest roles. My initial reaction getting these auditions was to laugh! I thought I was the girl you should call in to play the victim or the criminal or the superhero (sensing a pattern here), but I couldn’t see myself playing someone’s girlfriend without being awkward.
One day I decided to boss up and take on the challenge. Clearly, the industry saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. So, I practiced. I worked on scenes about relationships in acting class for at least a year to try to figure this thing out, and something broke when I worked on a scene from a play called Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball. It’s a great read, so if you ever have the time to read it, please do.
I decided to play the smart, provocative character named Trisha. Everything she believed about herself and love was the opposite of what I believed, which was perfect. I needed to explore a completely different way of doing things in order to break my old habits. While working on this scene, I focused on listening to and internalizing Trisha’s lines instead of trying to memorize them. Over time, I understood her point of view and could say the lines without faking it. I figuratively stepped into her shoes and learned a ton about what it means to have game.
Here’s what I learned:
What are your thoughts? Do you feel like you have game? If so, share some of your tips below.
If you read my post on celebrating strengths, you already know I don’t believe we need to focus all of our attention and energy on our weaknesses. BUT all of us at least need to know what they are, and this week my weakness was glaringly apparent...
I am impatient.
I’m working on it, but…
I am impatient.
As I’m writing this, I’m waiting to get the official email that I was hired for a job that I already know I got. The powers that be congratulated me in person for booking the role but told me I couldn’t share it yet. This happens all the time in the business, but your girl is BOTHERED that I can’t share the news with my inner circle.
Can you see how crazy this is? I got the job, a good job, and I can’t even celebrate it with a good attitude because I want to share the news with my people NOW. Pure crazy.
This is the life I live. Atlanta traffic doesn’t bother me. Why? Because I schedule my travel around high traffic times at all costs. I go to restaurants around town that have great food but no hype, so I never wait in line. I structure my life, so things keep moving, and I never have to wait.
But God has a way of teaching me the lessons I don’t want to learn, and I think He finds it funny. Over the last couple years, before booking a job, I’ve had to wait for some reason or other. I’ve been hired for a job then the start date gets pushed back… a MONTH. I’ve been told I’m being seriously considered for a job and had to wait for weeks to just get a yes or no. To be honest, I deal with rejection better than I deal with the wait. Just put me out of my misery already! Did I get it or not? I’m ready to move on.
Obviously, I’m still working out the kinks, but I see a pattern.
I’m told to wait.
I get stressed out.
I get the news or the result.
I move on with my life.
I’m always fine when the wait is over, no matter the result. So, if waiting is a part of life, I think I need to remove the stress associated with waiting and repurpose that energy. Maybe I can make it a game. I can see how long I can wait without complaining! Or if I want to be productive, I can see what I can create between being told to wait and getting the result. Either way, I’m going to at least approach the next wait with a game plan, so I don’t keep falling into the same pattern of behavior.
Okay, now that I’ve told you what I need to work on and my plan of action, what’s your thing? What could you stand to see differently? What’s your weakness, and what’s your plan of action to be better the next time?
A friend of mine had a ground-shaking, nuclear blow up with her husband. This fight was so bad that her immediate community rallied around her to make sure she was okay, being careful not to make her feel like we were all up in her business. Sidebar: Sometimes being all up in your friend’s business is EXACTLY what she needs, but I digress.
Over time, she assured me that things were getting back on track. She had faith, and she was strong. She and her man had even gone to therapy once to work out their issues.
Once is not enough.
This conversation is not about therapy alone. It’s about consistency. I don’t believe it’s possible to make any lasting progress in any area (i.e. faith, relationships, finances, emotional well-being) without consistency. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends say they went to therapy once or a couple times to work out their issues, and it only helped a little. Of course it only helped a little! It’s supposed to be a process.
Going to therapy one time for an issue you’ve had for years is like getting an x-ray for a broken arm and then walking away without any more treatment. That’s foolish and cruel to the soul.
If you have been dealing with a lot of tension in your relationship or your own issues (depression and anxiety) by yourself for years and haven’t seen major improvement, go to counseling. GET HELP. You don’t have to suffer alone for years at a time because it’s familiar. You can be happy, actually happy with yourself and in your relationship if you do the work.
When you go to therapy, you will have to talk about yourself. If you are a young black woman, this might feel crazy because we don’t like to tell people our business. But you will need to talk to someone, if you want to get better. You will feel vulnerable. You will talk about things you’ve avoided talking about for years, but that is a GOOD thing. You think you are protecting yourself by dealing with pain alone but you’re not. Isolating yourself only keeps you in that state of pain longer.
You will need to give yourself TIME to heal. I’ve been in therapy for five months, and I know folks who have been in therapy for years working on deeply rooted issues. I’m not planning on staying in therapy forever, but I’m not rushing through my process. I’m dealing with YEARS of trauma. A few months is nothing if it’s going to help me get better.
If you need to go to counseling and still haven’t taken the first step, stop putting your emotional wellness on the backburner. I deeply believe that if you commit to dealing with your own issues, the better you will be at caring for others. If you’ve gone to one or two sessions but haven’t fully healed, I urge you to keep going. You are worth that investment.
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.
He pissed me off… The Man (my man) took me from zero to a hundred in a matter of minutes, and I didn’t know what to do. It was the beginning of my day. I had a little while before my therapy session, but I did NOT want to use my precious hour on this fight. There were other things I wanted to work on. BUT I can’t BS my mood when I arrive in my therapists’ office. I just can’t, so if I come in feeling a way… I have to at least address it. And I did NOT want to address it in therapy.
After a couple minutes of reeling, I remembered The Man and I were supposed to go to my friend’s birthday party that night. I texted her to give her a heads up, “Happy birthday love. The Man and I are going through a thing. Not in the mood to go out tonight. So sorry.” I know how selfish that sounds, but I knew I couldn’t be one hundred percent present. I would rather take her out on my own another night than fake it. Her response, “Sorry hun. Do you want to talk about it? If not, I understand.”
I have been friends with The Bestie for over a decade, and I can count on one hand how many times one of us has reached out for help. Our normal mode of operation is to drown in whatever issue we’re dealing with on our own until the bestie sniffs it out. But your girl is evolving… This time I said something within the hour. I didn’t drown in my issue first. I told her while I was still mad. I picked up the phone and called. “I feel like a jerk. It’s your birthday, and I’m not supposed to be mad.” I was laughing and crying at the same time.
She quickly moved past my introduction. She laughed at me and asked me what was going on. I described the argument I had with The Man, and she quietly listened. When I finished ranting, she told me that she and her man went through the same thing for years but in reverse. Turns out she understood The Man’s point of view because they had the same personality type! She laughed and said, “Cyrah, you do realize he’s the male version of me right?” Of course. The Man made a decision that frustrated me to my core, but The Bestie would have done the same thing. Instead of siding with me, she helped me understand what he was thinking. She also offered some advice based on how she and her man got through their similar situation. My whole vibe changed from pissed to understanding. She was right! He was just doing what he thought was best.
I didn’t have to process the issue with my therapist because my friend was there for me. I gave her a pat on the back for just being a dope person, and I gave myself a pat on the back for surrounding myself with people who really care about me. She didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear in the moment. She told me the truth. In this moment I am giving myself another pat on the back for speaking up when I was feeling hurt. I didn’t pretend to have it all together. I spoke up in a safe environment, and I got through it.
The Man and I talked things out and had a blast at The Bestie’s party. I am slowly but surely learning that I have a support system. For years I prided myself in being there for my people, but I didn’t let them in when I was struggling. That’s stupid. That’s ego. That’s weak. True strength is vulnerability. So…I’m going to share my life with my loving community, the good and the bad.
Who are the folks in your life who know you at your worst and still love you? Write down at least 3. Call them this week just to thank them for being amazing!
It was a Tuesday. I was supposed to leave for LA the coming Sunday, and I had no meetings on my schedule. I spent money on flights and an Airbnb room in Venice. I did this all on a wish and a prayer that I was going to get a manager in LA. In a matter of days, I was going to be in the city, and I didn’t have a thing scheduled. On the outside, I pretended I had everything under control, but on the inside I was spiraling.
“What were you thinking Cyrah?”
“These agents and managers aren’t responding because they don’t want you.”
“You knew you weren’t ready for LA yet!”
“You don’t have enough credits for people to take you seriously.”
How did I get here? Let’s go back four months. I took a trip to LA at the end of the summer with some industry friends. I had a meeting with an LA agent and manager. I left Atlanta feeling good about my monologues. I paid for coaching. I shopped for cuter clothes. I showed up to that meeting feeling like a star. I went into the room expecting to kill it, but I didn’t. My acting was just okay that day. No magic. My work wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t stellar. I left LA feeling confused and defeated. What happened?
Then depression… Yep, this trip sent me on a downward emotional spiral. I was sad. I was frustrated with my lack of progress. I didn’t understand why I didn’t fully show up in the room like I know I can. On top of that, I was mad that I even cared.
“Why are you down about this?”
“This is a rejection business! You know that.”
“Man up and move on with your life.”
I felt so stuck. Looking back on this experience I now realize I was too attached to the outcome of this one trip. But at the time I didn’t know how to deal. I wanted to lie to myself so badly about how I felt, but I CARED. And I was disappointed in myself.
Then therapy…. After I recognized I was depressed, I stopped giving excuses and sought out help. I went on my insurance company’s website, found a therapist that was covered and started going. THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
First of all, this business can take you on an emotional rollercoaster if you don’t have proper perspective and a way to process thoughts in a healthy way. I was taught to not let this business get to me. To not care. But the truth of the matter is that I’m invested. I CARE. I can pretend not to care, but I can’t lie to my soul. My insides know when something matters, so I learned in therapy to stop with the BS and align myself with what I really wanted.
I love Atlanta, and I love the business in Atlanta. But I wanted to expand and challenge myself. I wanted LA. So, I contacted my Atlanta agent and asked her how I could get ready for the LA market. She said that she thought I was ready for LA now, and the agency could start submitting me to LA managers and agents.
Pause…ready for LA now?! In my heart of hearts, I felt like I was ready, but on paper I didn’t know if people would take me seriously. My agent believed in me! And she confirmed what I knew all along, it was time to make some moves.
So, with no guarantees, I cleaned up my casting profiles, got new headshots and booked a ticket. This happened over a span of two months.
Then… less than a week out, we had no one on the calendar. One of my agents said that the market was getting very competitive, and if we didn’t get any responses to just assume they weren’t interested. My heart sunk… This was going to be a repeat of my last LA trip. Pointless. But I’d been doing some personal emotional work. This time I was much more aware of the downward emotional spiral…
Instead of waiting 3 weeks to get help, I waited 30 minutes. I called my godfather to get some perspective. I told him how I was feeling, and he helped me to look at what was happening from different angles. This was the first time in years that I didn’t try to process something alone. I was so proud of myself for asking for help!
After talking with him a little while, I took action. I wrote “You are ready for LA” on pink sticky notes and put them up all over my house and car. Everywhere I went I was reminded that this was my dream, and I wasn’t going to let fear or rejection stop me from moving forward.
I called my agent. She put in a good word for me with an agent and manager in LA. I called my industry momma, and she got me a meeting with a manager I already had a good relationship with. (She’d seen me perform before and loved me.) Within a matter of days, I had four meetings on my schedule. I went from no meetings to more than enough. The day before my flight was scheduled to leave, I had my regularly scheduled therapy session. I was reminded to not dim my light and to go get what I wanted.
One of my goals for 2019 was to get a good LA manager. I flew out Sunday morning. I had my first meeting Sunday afternoon. Within 24 hours, an LA manager offered me representation! By the end of the week, I was offered representation by two managers and an agency. LISTEN! I was on an emotional high for like 24 hours… I got exactly what I wanted and then some! This process and trip was packed with so many lessons, and I just had to share them with you.
So here are my take-aways…
1. I don’t have to be limited by the expectations of others. If I believe in my heart of hearts I’m ready to do or be something, with God’s help I can create what I want despite what it looks like on the outside.
2. Feelings aren’t reality. The truth is that I felt like the entire LA market was rejecting me just days before I was supposed to go. That wasn’t true. I just needed to connect with the people who believe in me. The truth is that sometimes I will be rejected, and that’s okay. Eventually, I will get what I want if I just work through my process. So, I need to call up my support when I’m feeling a way. Perspective is everything.
3. I have to stretch my faith! If I sat around and waited for someone to tell me that I was ready to take this step, it would have never happened. Even though my Atlanta agent believed in me, I had to initiate the conversation. All of my wins happened because I stepped outside of my comfort zone and believed for more. Note to self, “Keep doing the things that scare you.”
Okay, so now that you know what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks, what’s up with you? What is your next scary faith project?
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.