A productive life calls for some planning. I’ve been an artist and entrepreneur for all of my adult life so I know that maintaining a productive and balanced work life can be challenging when you are your own boss.
Here’s a little prescription I intend to use in order to chase away my post-show blues and get back into the flow of a winning #artistlife.
I N S P I R A T I O N (20 Minutes Minimum Daily Requirement)
B R E A K F A S T (Daily. May be consumed during the Peak Performance Period when necessary, but no more than 2x per week.)
P E A K • P E R F O R M A N C E • P E R I O D (Morning Edition. 5-6x Weekly. 4 hours)
L I G H T • P H Y S I C A L • A C T I V I T Y (2x Daily. 15 minute intervals. May be skipped on days of Heavy Physical Activity.)
H E A V Y • P H Y S I C A L • A C T I V I T Y (3x Weekly. 45 Minutes Minimum Requirement. May be accomplished A.M. or P.M.)
L U N C H (Daily.)
P E A K • P E R F O R M A N C E • P E R I O D (Afternoon/Evening Edition. 5-6x Weekly. 3 hours.)
D I N N E R (Daily.)
T H E • C H E C K - I N • P E R I O D (4-5x Weekly. 30 minutes.)
G R A T I T U D E (Daily.)
Reclaiming My Time
T I M E
T I M E WASTED
T I M E MANAGEMENT
T I M E IS RUNNING OUT
T I M E IS FLYING
T I M E TO FINALLY FIGURE IT ALL OUT
T I M E AS A CONSTRUCT
T I M E IS ON MY SIDE
T I M E IS MY BITCH
T I M E WITHOUT BEGINNING
T I M E WITHOUT END
T I M E
Today is my mother's birthday. Naturally, our conversations in the previous days have been reflections on the passage of T I M E. She and I share similar feelings these days about birthdays coming and going and piling up as they do. So consequently one begins to ponder how exactly the years have been spent, how one has succeeded, failed, survived, thrived and well...wasted countless hours, years, and precious T I M E on fruitless pursuits. But my mother is a survivor! She is a hero, a heroine in the truest most literal definition of those words. She deserves every comfort, every joy; and if I am to be a testament to her indomitable strength, and master the T I M E that I have as Enisha in the pursuit my own version of distinguished success, than my mother will know more comfort and know more joy.
Last night heading from our rehearsal in Beverly Hills, a castmate of mine and I were ruminating about the nature of disagreements. She offered some sage wisdom: "If it's not going to matter in 5 years, why let it bother you for 5 minutes?" I'm pretty sure I have heard that one before but if so it's been years. She is right. It's a wonderful way to diffuse any situation and get back to the heart of the people involved. I put that one in my pocket for a rainy day. But I have to admit, I started thinking about the things that have mattered 5 years later. And how fast 5 years go by. And how much T I M E I have wasted in the past on attempting to hold on to a relationship that was eclipsing my priorities and clouding my judgment. I was thinking in that moment that I am also pretty damn proud that I have learned from old mistakes and have since had the wherewithal to acknowledge a bad thing coming. Ain't nobody got T I M E for wasted time. Not anymore.
On Saturday I made a new determination to wake up earlier. Listen, I am a morning person only when necessary. I typically have no problems waking or being alert and ready to face the day once I am vertical. But maaaannnnnn, I really love sleep. It's delicious. My skin loves it too. However, I am aware that I can accomplish more daytime things with more daylight hours. So, I have been greeting the day about 2 hours earlier than normal, feeding the 4-legged princess of the castle, saying my morning prayers, studying some literature for the sake of my own human revolution, and then getting the day poppin! Yes, I have reclaimed my T I M E!
In April, my grandmother turned 80. I am only allowed to write that because it's only now becoming obvious that she is a grandmother. That she is in fact aging. But the truth is, this woman is ageless, T I M E less! Effervescent and magnificent! Hysterical and glamorous at the same time. I call her by her first name, as do her children, this having been established as the only way to address her long before I came into the world. Trust me when I say, it is the best way to show her the respect that she commands. Man, I love that lady! Anyway, none of us discussed really age when it came to her before now because the number never made sense. It never matched. And frankly it didn't matter. She has managed to make T I M E her .... you know. And I like to think I've got just enough of her in me to be confident that I needn't worry about a thing. Afterall, T I M E might just be a construct of the matrix.
I hate the learning curve. I always want to just skip to the point of mastery and ride that thing out into the sunset.
I can't exactly pinpoint when this happened. But at some time after a long history of being the teacher's pet, the honor student, the perfect attendance, dean's list, magna cum laude awarded (and modest little twat) that I am... I stopped loving being a "learner" There's a concept in developmental psychology that explains that once we've hit a certain age and life benchmark we gather and store new information as "crystalized learning." Basically we're not little sponges anymore. We're just learning the necessary bits for the tasks at hand. Clever, relevant and everything that all of the people who used to cheat off of my work were trying to explain to the rest of us over-achievers: "None of this extra crap is going to matter when we get into the real world."
If you are an Industrial Architect you probably don't need to know the kingdom, order, family, or species of salt water vertebrae in the Mediterranean Sea for job security. You've got to be a whiz at mathematics and have a passion for design and city planning. Makes sense. You need to learn your skill, master your skill, and love the process.
Oh, the process.
So as an actor the P R O C E S S is a vast micro to macro web of "hurry-up and wait" and "be ready at all times" and "right place at the right time" intersecting at various shades of green from "greenroom" to "too green" to "greenlit" to "green screen." Basically a bazillion variables that are all just a means to do the thing that you love, tell stories.
And the only way to tell those stories is to put in the work. Learn your lines. Rehearse your beats. Discover the character. Find the truth. Practice it. Make mistakes. Fail forward. Loose your inhibitions. Learn, rehearse, discover, find, practice and repeat until you reach that euphoric moment of truth which allows you to throw it all away and just be. (*Pauses for the moment.)
Every new side, scene, job, level has its own curve and it's maddening being at the bottom of that dip when you thought you had it but realize you don't and mastery seems like a hopeless dream. Ugh. I HATE IT!!! Where is my sunset?!
Anyway... just a little "discouragingly realist" pep-talk from me and the learning curve.
Mama, Don't Make Me Sing
Here's the thing about singing: I LOVE to sing. "I'm using the word 'LOVE' here." (name that Jack Nicholson reference). Not hyperbole.
The Voice Memos on my phone is 15% audition dialogue and 85% my musical catalogue. My shower is my booth, my living room is my stage, my car... forget about it. It's a concert. My mother sings, my grandmother sings, one of my brothers sings. Fun fact: my father was once on the Apollo. (He never had a chance... You can't follow an ATROCIOUS gospel singer who's used up all of the audience's available patience and expect to get through a whole bar of a Fair Weather Friend by Johnny Gill if you're not Johnny Gill *rolls eyes*). Anyway.
You get my point. But I'm not really a singer. I sing. But I learned the hard way (from a brutal experience with a director) not to call myself a singer. I can't belt. I have short breath control and my range is about as short as Angela Rye's patience for that bullshit. But ask me to sing a jazzy something or other, a classic, or a bluesy standard and I will be all over it... That is, if it is me actually asking myself to sing for moi and no one else is listening. And I'll be damned if I'm not constantly asked to sing. It's my personal version of hell to be asked to sing for something important. Or heaven forbid a performance!
So, I have worked very hard to control what can only be explained by the worst version of stage fright I have known (outside of that one time when I couldn't remember the rest of my routine for a gymnastics recital at 7 years old.) My new response to the cringe-worthy, "Can you sing?" is now: "Yeah, I sing a little and dance a little."
And last night I sang a little. In fact, I created a melody for what will be something between a song and a chant for our Hollywood Fringe Festival show The Goddesses Guide: Adura for the Women of African Diaspora. I steadied my nerves, dropped the key, and used all of the power my little diaphragm could muster. And you know what? It sounded pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Pray for me though...
The world is incredibly small.
So, last night was rehearsal day one for a brand new show for the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival entitled, The Goddesses Guide: Adura For the Women of African Diaspora. (Info.)
This will be my first time back on stage for a theatrical--that is to say LIVE theater production--since I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago to become a STAR!! (Kidding, not kidding.) I got all of the tingles remembering what it felt like to choose a monologue, memorize it, and actually hand a printed headshot and resume to the director on the day. Gave me all of the warm and fuzzies. Challenge: the monologue was to be prepared in a West African accent. Not a problem. My ancestors got me (dusts off shoulders).
I go. I act. I get called back. I go. I dance. I sing. I sweat. I leave. A few days later I get an email from my (very capable and definitely my junior) director, Camille that she would like to offer me the role of OYA. YASS! I accept.
Now, regarding this teeny, tiny, world we live in: I feel like I know the director. I think I even mentioned in the callback that perhaps she simply has a familiar face. I let it go. Truth is I feel this way all of the time--as if I know people, when I actually don't. And it can be a bit embarrassing, looking someone deep in the eyes searching for confirmation that we are already acquainted, only to be sneered at... because no one likes to be stared at by strangers. But I didn't really let it go. Before the end of the callback I offer that we've probably just auditioned together back in Atlanta where I find out she once lived. Good enough for me.
A few days before our first rehearsal, I find and add Camille on LinkedIn and discover that we have 1-degree of separation. Several years ago she interned for a theater where I performed many times. Okay, okay. We've definitely run into each other. I'm satisfied. At the appropriate time, we'll bring it up and have two seconds of the obligatory, "Oh really? Yeah. Oh, how funny." responses. It'll be a cute connective tissue, a way to build camaraderie. Such a small world.
First rehearsal arrives. My cast members are great, our stage manager, Bri, is my spirit animal, the choreographer has a warm smile and great eyebrows, the read-thru leaves me inspired! We talk about how there are no coincidences. They simply do not exist. This amazing show, with these talented people, about the Orishas is going to be electric, and we can all feel it. Camille looks me deeply in the eyes when she speaks... I KNOW THAT I KNOW her.
Rehearsal ends and I drive from Beverly Hills eastbound with a mission. I will crack this code... And I did.
While in Atlanta I supplemented my acting income with photography. I had a built-in clientele of actors needing headshots. So, as soon as I get home, I unearth my old hard drive, open a folder called Photo Gallery, find a folder named Academy Theatre, click the blue folder labeled Interns... and I'll be DAMN (by the way shout out to Kendrick Lamar for winning the Pulitzer Prize)!
Eight years ago I shot a small group of interns for Academy Theatre... one of which was a bubbly, young brown skinned girl dressed in yellow by the name of Camille Jenkins!
I copied the headshot to my dropbox immediately. Wait until I find the perfect moment to reveal our full-circle connection on Thursday...
enisha b jane
In my own words.