I had a terrible idea for a children's book a few years ago. It was about a little girl who didn't believe she had any favorites. No favorite color, no favorite cartoon character or teacher, no favorite anything. In an attempt to convince her otherwise her mother takes her to an ice cream shoppe and she is reminded that she is actually not a pitiful little human child who can't make up her mind. She remembers that she loves strawberry ice cream. It's her favorite.
I know, horrible. Anyway. It was loosely based on a phase I was going through where I couldn't confidently identify anything I liked enough to call it my favorite... of any category. I am a Libra and ALL THE THINGS make sense to me. I can rationalize or find the good, bad, or ugly of anything. (And you thought it was indecisiveness, didn't you?)
So I decided to remedy this phase and write all of my favorites out. And I'm sharing them here. And I'm sticking to them!
Wait... Maybe Top 5 is better!
Top 5 Favorite Ice Cream Flavors
Pralines and Cream
Top 5 Movies
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Boyz n the Hood
All About Eve
Top 5 TV Shows
Game of Thrones
How to Get Away with Murder
Top 5 Actresses
Top 5 Actors
Michael B. Jordan
And there you have it.
Seven whole years. It's been 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN years since I moved to Los Angeles this week. It's difficult to quantify that much time having already passed... partly because time feels more like a construct in a climate like this one--it goes from a dry summer to a brisk fall. No winter. No rainy season. But also because, like this year, time flies by so quickly. Were we not just in March? My head is spinning thinking about it. And when you have back-to-back years like 2018 it just... goes.
So, I forced myself to examine each year that I've been in LaLaLand and QUALIFY each with a Big Win and a Big Lesson. So here goes:
Year 1 (Fall 2011 to Fall 2012)
Big Win: Booking Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
This would come about 6 months after I arrived. It was my first leading role in what would be shot like a film. I learned a ton!
Big Lesson: The Follow-up Opportunity
Yeah. I hadn't yet found consistency in my work. So I was not able to capitalize on the momentum of Halo or Footloose in the way I wanted to and missed some big follow-up opportunities as a result.
Year 2 (Fall 2012 to Fall 2013)
Big Win: Adding Humvee Driver to my Special Skills
I booked a recurring role on the show Perception and was tasked with driving this military "armored" truck in a desert scene. Cast and camera crew in tow. Loved it!
Big Lesson: The Consequences of the Wrong Crowd
Mmmhmm. I had to relearn this elementary school lesson. I was freshly out of what would be the last booking in a few years. It was the consequence of being highly distracted. My focus was completely off of my career and being drained in a toxic relationship.
Year 3 (Fall 2013 to Fall 2014)
Big Win: New Acting Technique
I discovered a technique that would gift me with the consistency that I had been so sorely missing. It also gave me something productive and career-driven to focus on. Acting class was my saving grace!
Big Lesson: No One is Coming to Save You
I learned that there are people who will laugh at your pain and watch you sink. True friends are rare. But ultimately, you are responsible for you.
Year 4 (Fall 2014 to Fall 2015)
Big Win: Learned the art of the Win
I had to defend myself in a small legal injustice with a landlord who unfairly refused to reimburse my rental deposit. After several attempts to solve the issue myself, I decided to take him to court. I won. At a time when I felt attacked by so many forces, I determined to fight and win.
Big Lesson: The Power of "No"
It was after that win that I reintroduced the word "no" and the phrase 'not good enough" into my life. It didn't feel good in the moments, but in the depths of my being I understood it to be right.
Year 5 (Fall 2015 to Fall 2016)
Big Win: LOVE
I met my husband-to-be! And despite a few battle scars and a few thick layers of protection, I was able to open and let love flow.
Big Lesson: Seize the Yes!
Career wise, I learned to be unafraid to cut my losses with dead-end relationships and seize new opportunities when they presented themselves.
Year 6 (Fall 2016 to Fall 2017)
Big Win: New Community, who dis?
I landed a spot in the ABC Discovers Showcase and found a new tribe of talented, silly, actors and a relationship with a studio. I also dove into a fresh spiritual practice that also came with a community of positive, uplifting people.
Big Lesson: New Levels Bring New Obstacles
I worked harder in this one year than any other year in Los Angeles. I was constantly faced with my own self-fulfilling limitations and was forced to move through them.
Year 7 (Fall 2017 to PRESENT)
Big Win: Purpose
This last year has allowed me to envision and outline a path to my purpose. My goals are clearer, bigger, and feel attainable. This year I have experienced genuine happiness far more than in years past.
Big Lesson: It All Counts
All the skills, lessons, and obstacles make sense now. I learned that everything I have ever succeeded or failed at are part of the story. Nothing is for nothing. It all counts.
•They say we are completely different people every seven years. I'd say that's true.•
The law of abundance teaches us that the universe is infinitely abundant -- that someone else's opportunity or benefit is not our loss. That there is in fact enough (food, resource, goodness, potential) to go around. Instead we believe in lack and limitation.
Some of us are trapped in one or more of the damaging illusions that Nichiren Buddhism has identified as the 3 poisons: Greed, Anger, and Foolishness. Our perception is so jaded through the lens of the 3 poisons that we can't even fathom -- let alone perceive -- the true nature of all phenomena. The world through these lenses is a game of war, is brutal, ugly. We believe everyone is either a threat or an ally and are always at the ready to fight and defend. We therefore wage war in all of our encounters, perpetuating a cycle or never ending war, brutality and ugliness. It is a cycle that we seldom recognize as being self-fulfilling.
No, we will not always get what we want. Yes, some opportunities will have to be created by our own hand. No, we will not go through life without challenges. Yes, we may need to defend ourselves from those whose delusions threaten our life and livelihood. No, will not always win. Yes, we must choose what we stand for.
Imagine seeing the world through a lens of abundance and joy. Our losses become opportunities, our wins become salve, our compassion boomerangs, our joy multiplies, our sorrows become a kind of release. And we then fight only to protect the bliss of peace. Our indignation is righteous. Our goals are lofty. And we encounter a swarm of support and love. The universe rushes to our aid. Guidance finds us.
It seems nearly impossible until it just isn't. How do I know? I've tested out a few different lenses in my life.
"A candle looses nothing by lighting another candle."
~ Erin Majors
When's the last time you checked your lenses?
Don't be the only one who can not see your talent.
Don't be the only one who can not see your potential.
Don't be the only one who can not see your greatness.
See your beauty.
See your talent.
See your potential.
See your greatness.
They see it because it is already there. Do you believe it?
Random Thought # 1: None of us is qualified to be a parent. None of us will get it right. That's terrifying! (I don't know if I'll ever be ready.) More on this in a future blog.
Random Thought # 2: I've somehow been misrepresented as perfectionist. I'm not. I just want to get it right.
Random Thought # 3: I've restarted this blog three times now.
*GASP* I have a problem with perfectionism...
Hello, my name is Enisha and I am a closeted perfectionist.
The issue is that I am always in pursuit of the highest title, in theory. I want to be the best, but I seldom achieve that. In most cases I hover somewhere slightly above above average. It's maddening. I am the laziest overachiever you will ever meet.
Ouch. That hurt to admit.
Because I suppose the truth is that sometimes when I give ALL that I have, balls to the wall, no holds barred, I don't always win the title. These are the breaks. But I don't like them. And then I rest comfortably in my slightly above, above average station (because nothing less than that will ever be acceptable from my point-of-view), and everyone still considers you a winner. And it feels pretty good. Good enough to sit in and not push harder the next time. But the truth is second place sucks.
I don't always know which self to listen to. Is it the one that screams, "Stop trying to be perfect" and says, "Give yourself a break"? Or is it, "You're not doing enough." and "Twice as hard, remember."
Okay, digging deeper... I have not yet learned to walk fully and confidently in my greatness.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." - Marianne Williamson
I can vividly recall instances when I was the best, won the room, achieved the thing, and could barely stand it. I could hardly find my spine to soak it all in. Did I think in those moments that I didn't deserve it? I had in fact worked hard for those achievements, earned them, won them, they were mine.
"We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually who are you not to be." - Marianne Williamson
I'm not a perfectionist, I just have big dreams, big goals, and need not allow myself to sit in the comfort of above, above average. Good enough isn't good enough for me.
This probably could have been a private journal entry. But I've shared it here anyway. If it inspired you, frustrated you, made you want to push harder, or never visit my blog again, I'd love to know. Feel free to comment.
My life is like my hair story.
When I was 5 or so, my mom put a relaxer in my hair because this 4C thickness with length was too much for her to handle. I didn't have a say. And my heavy-handed aunties who usually managed to wrangle my head full with beads, bristle brushes, bobbles, and pink rollers, were equally pleased. Meanwhile, I was starting school on Long Island, and my guardianship was being figured out too. I didn't have a say in staying with Mom, or Dad, or Nanny. The decision had been made for me. It was going to be Grandma's for a while.
By the time middle school rolled around, I'd been given some autonomy and started trying new styles and new boyfriends. The lifespan of each was never more than a week. Before graduating high school, Houston's heat and the heat of the curling iron had burned me out. My hair and my teenage heart had endured various exaggerated states of well-being.
Atlanta changed everything! I was incubating in the Atlanta University Center, absorbing and unlearning all the most poignant influences to my cultural identity. The AUC was like a pilgrimage and emersion into black mecca. Here's an excerpt from a poem I wrote during that time:
I float on cocoa satin as the communion fills my temple with the recognition of my own queendom.
I walk among goddesses whose heads are adorned with the music of coily roots -
Dancing out and upwards in time with the rhythm of the heart's djembe
I eventually "big chopped" all of relaxed hair, rocked a coif of curly, coily deliciousness, and then gave it permission to grow into the most glorious long afro it could. Ahh. The Atlanta effect. Neither I nor my hair had ever been more healthy, more full of life, more expressive or more confident.
I moved to Los Angeles still with the possibility of a fro, but a fro rarely seen. I had learned by then that I was ahead of the times -- TV and film-wise; and this natural hair had become a stumbling block more than a stepping stool. At the time, LA passively-aggressively required the illusion of perfection--which was most certainly not defined by the righteous indignation these frizzy ends represented. So I would allow my hair to find heat again. High heat. But I refused to relax it. Just add water and I am reminded of my old knowing, my own queendom... Though it does bear the evidence of a little damage, the price of compromise, I suppose.
LA has certainly caught up a bit. You can't see a commercial with a black woman without her hair being in her full natural glory. And the most successful among us--our A-Listers--have managed to link with hairdressers who seem to know exactly how to care for, and style the hair that naturally occurs from our heads. Revolutionary. But I have found little middle ground. These days, I experience a range of emotions in waiting rooms with other black women the moment I realize that I am the only one without curly, coily, or big, natural hair. It's almost become my advantage.
I have accepted the chameleon nature of my hair, and the transformative power of my self. But more importantly, I am the sum total of all of my parts: laid, twisted, big, full, added to, or cut off.
Closing remarks to follow by Deacon Solange of the Knowles House of Realness:
Photos by Crystal-Lee Naomi
Closet Shopping Round 2!
TOP - This little layered spaghetti strap top is one of those summer staples. It's the gift that keeps on giving. The tricky thing about spaghetti straps for me is the length of the straps fitting your comfort and cleavage taste level. What you can't see from the pictures is the back which has an extra horizontal tie that allows for convenient adjustment. No extra strap adjusters necessary! LOVE this super versatile cutie. I have to work hard not to wear it all summer long!
SHORTS - Another one of those finds from my favorite high-end consignment shop! These hot pink shorts are one of a two-piece summer ensemble and certainly the star of this whole fit! The high waist, A-line, split front cut forms the shape of a hanging tulip. So feminine, so comfortable. I cannot wait to wear the entire suit together. For this shoot, I decided to go a little more casual with it.
SHOES - Ah, more Footloose memories! These satin champagne BCBG MAX AZARIA 4 1/2" pumps feature a black heel and completed my ensemble for the premiere several years back. Yay to beautiful repurposed foot wear!
JEWELRY - I love a double stacked necklace. You can't really go wrong. The smaller of the two is from Anthropology and features a quartz crystal, hanging cubic zirconia, and creates a triangular shape that is so pretty with a low neckline. The longer necklace helps to create movement with a hanging tassel and three pearls to recall the earrings. I really love a classic earring. These pearl drop earring also feature cubic zirconia. The real diamond is reserved for the left hand. :)
I had such a good time scouting a location for this ensemble. I happened upon these two picturesque vistas and knew immediately that they would complete the romantic, classic, girl-bossy vibe that I was going for. These photos are giving me all of the lady who is feminine and driven, nurturing and sensual, soft and powerful vibes. To me that's the essence of womanhood, a masterful interplay of push and pull. I love being a woman and these photos reflect me about as well as any ever have.
Leave a comment. Let me know that you were here and what you think of this look.
I feel like I've had the shadow of Cinderella following me all of my life, a sort of existential Cinderella complex.
I read a meme on IG the other day that said something to the effect of:
Cinderella wasn't looking for a Prince, she just asked for a day off and a new dress.
Some clever, modern, girl boss type woman must have written this to make my day. Anyway, what speaks to me most is the concept that Cinderella was not born a princess. She worked hard, even under duress, and managed still to be kind and loving. Somewhere hidden underneath her rags and dirt was always a capable, worthy, beautiful woman who only needed to be dusted off and seen.
I reject any analysis that Cinderella was faking it, or a "social climber" even, who was concealing her class with costume and shiny trimmings. Instead, I like to think those gifts, as temporary as they might have seemed at first, were a reflection of her indisputable virtues. Sometimes the world outside needs a clue, a symbol, a sparkle before it takes notice. Most times it is difficult for people to see beyond the top layer. All of the time, an individual needs an ally, a support system, an investment.
I felt like Cinderella at the ball walking the blue carpet for the premiere of Footloose way back in 2011. Enchanted by the lights and photographers, radiant in a gold silk ensemble, beaming from the atmosphere and opportunity of a lifetime to be seen... afraid, that it would all disappear and my life as a surviving actress would resume, leaving no more than a distant memory never to be topped or repeated.
Regardless, I was on a high for several days after. Singing and dancing, and reminiscing about the amazing night I had, finally reflecting how I always felt: Golden, Radiant, Important. And in the weeks, months, years to follow, that night would become less of a distant memory... and more of a target to aim for again.
The fairytale (idealism) is that Cinderella was instantly prepared to thrive in a new reality. That from one day to another, she could transform her perception and behaviors to match the circumstantial transformation happening. In real life I like to think that Cinderella, having been rightly seen, validated and supported, still needed time to adjust. And that it didn't take too long, 10,000 hours or so, perhaps.
Starting from the present...
He Said: "If you only ever aim for what you CAN do, you'll never reach the next level."
She Said: Let's build a life together.
He Said: "You might just have to love me, even if I don't love you back."
She Said: Hahaha! Don't EVER contact me again.
He Said: "I told you I didn't want to be in a relationship."
She Said: Cool. Make sure you leave the key on your way out.
He said: "We don't need labels to define us.
She Said: That works for me... for now.
He said: "There are parts of me you will never know."
She Said: Who cares, let's see what happens.
Sometimes there are red flags, other times flags aren't needed, it's just said directly. Sometimes you have to guess and other times the truth is spelled out. I learned a lot about myself based on the relationships I was choosing. It told me where I was in my maturity, how I was teaching people to love me, what I was accepting, and what I was rejecting. And eventually I understood some of the best advice that I wish I could properly credit:
When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
The above five quotes are real. They come from the 5 serious (or otherwise, pivotal) relationships of my life. I am marrying the first guy next year!
A "Shit List" is one way to call it...
Another way to call it is a "Can't-Quit-Till-I-Prove-These-MFs-Wrong" List...
We'll go with the latter. It's more proactive. This list is not exhaustive. There are some strong honorable mentions not actually worth mentioning. But for the 5 people below, I have dedicated the following Haikus to their extraordinary contributions to my determination to win!
1. For "Mr. Springer"
That one producer
Never a Leading Lady?
Thanks for the inspo
2. For "Mr. Little"
That one director
You were lucky to have us
What's your claim to fame?
3. For "What's-Her-Name"
Threats to my career
Assume, then apology?
Next time just ask first
4. For "Ms. Cakes"
Said I'd run back home
Thought you were there to support
Why so bitter, though?
5. For "Ms. 4-Leaf" and the Like
You hope for the fail
Go ahead, keep checking in
You motivate me
Basically, Thank You!
It's a strange choice to pursue acting, to pursue an art form where there is no separation between the art and the art maker. There is no piece of music to play, no canvas or print to present, no sculpture to stand behind. The actor's work is contained within her. She learns to insulate her art with thick skin. She receives criticism and rejections not to a body of work that exists in her absence, but to the body of work that is her body, mind, and interpretation.
It's a funny business this show business. It is not for the weak or impatient. And many are poised and ready to root against you. But that's the game. And the winners know how to transform those voices into activation. I literally can't stop until I have proven each of these folks wrong. (A few I already have!)
enisha b jane
In my own words.