Back in December, I received a call from my acting teacher who had been given the responsibility to cast a promo for the California Innocence Project. I quickly agreed after hearing that this promo was to serve as yet another way to get the attention of Governor Jerry Brown to consider adding any of the California 12, or CA12, to his Christmas Clemency list before exiting office. The producers, Alastair Ramsden of 21st Street Creative, and director, Keith Boak of Freedom Films, decided to highlight the story of Kiera Newsome to represent the CA12 toward this goal.
And here was where I came in. What you see above is the full final product. I walked for a fraction of a moment in what I imagined to be the everyday reality of Kiera Newsome and it was grueling, painful, and took me to places emotionally that were difficult to bear. What this one-day shoot required of me (and what the resulting aftermath taught me) was the true power and possibility of this art form in a way I had never known before. Finding the place in my body, mind, and heart to hold up this space for Kiera became a duty, an offering of the slightest I could give, in honor of the many years, months, days, hours, minutes that she has counted being behind bars and knowing that she is innocent.
Above is the video that resulted in the efforts of the cast, crew and production team.
I posted, reposted, tweeted, retweeted, emailed the governor and prayed that the efforts of those in the California Innocence Project would result in some victory for Kiera or any of the wrongfully accused of the CA12.
Christmas day brought great news for Kiera Newsome. Read the article below.
Clemency Granted in Murder Case - San Diego Union-Tribune Article
For more info on the CA12 and the work of the California Innocence Project please visit their site.
You know that IG post from Will Smith where he's in his trailer talking about the 99% of people who are not willing to put in the work to make their dreams a reality? I re-watched that video and got super pumped about my life and career. Here is a 1% I am proud to be part of.
In the video he repeats what is obviously one of his life mantras: You must have self-discipline. In the last month I have proven to myself that I will never be defeated.
I am determined to never be defeated by:
The illusion of time (starting too late, passing time)
My life, my happiness, my hope are all choices. I have chosen to be victorious. I have chosen to activate all that I am in control of toward the fulfillment of my deepest wishes. I have activated the mystic law of the universe to rush to my aid in this mission. It's that clear. It's that definite. I am that sure.
Maybe all of this sounds too esoteric or just plain weird. The truth is, it doesn't matter how it comes off. What I have come to understand is that we truly are the masters of our destiny. We can transform our thinking, our reactions, our family and community dynamics, the trajectory of our lives, simply by being aware of the choices we make in every moment.
I have chosen to never give up on my career because I know that I have something of value to share.
I have chosen to keep fighting for my dream because the fight awakens my most powerful self.
I have chosen to be in a constant state of improvement in order to always be ready for the next step.
I have chosen to create happiness in my personal life in order to reflect joy in the world.
I have chosen to see the goodness of others in spite of all of the negativity we are inundated with.
I have chosen to regard all challenges and difficulties as an opportunity.
Therefore, I will never be defeated.
So on to the latest good news:
I booked and shot a co-star role on the new CW show All American
I signed with a new Theatrical Talent Agent
I failed to book, but was in high consideration for, a lead role in an international feature film
I have been called back for a large co-star role on a network show.
I have been called back for a lead in a pilot presentation
I re-qualified for that good-old union health insurance based on last year.
These are the benefits, be they small or large, that reaffirm my determination and fill my cup with gratitude. :)
enisha b jane
In my own words.
A few months back I published a Productivity Prescription that was equal parts encouragement and a new determination for myself. It basically prescribes, 4 hours of Peak Performance activity in the morning, 3 hours of Peak Performance activity in the afternoon, and specific time intervals for meals, exercise, and checking in.
At the time that it was written, it hadn't quite been fulfilled but it served as a guide for how I wanted to structure my days. If I had to rate myself on a scale from 1-10 (10 being "Nailed it") based on how my typical day goes, I would say 7. Certainly, there are a few days that are 10s and some that are 5s. But, previous to writing that prescription, it was a consistent 4 or less. (I should qualify that score: 4 or less on days that I didn't have a rehearsal, or a performance scheduled.)
The point is, that I have finally been able to actualize the very simple wisdom of, "just keep moving forward" in my own life. Daily or Weekly To-Do lists are magical! They have served as a way to visualize my objectives and tasks, order them, hold myself accountable, and acknowledge where I stand on accomplishing them. I love an empty checkbox... about half as much as I love checking it! I have to say, the old-school pencil and paper route is the way to go here. It's more kinetic.
A friend of mine recently commented on my IG story, "You are so motivated! I need help with that." For me it's really about finding a balance between determining to move forward, even if just by one small step on a tough day, and giving myself a break by acknowledging the accomplishments that I have accumulated on a given goal. Some days I'm going to give 110%, and forget to eat, and get cramps in my fingers, and stress my eyeballs. Other days just setting one main goal that MUST be met, no matter what, is all I have to offer beyond the normal demands of the day.
I recently talked to a guy who had been working extremely hard on a national campaign for an organization I am affiliated with. I watched as he pushed himself to the limit, month after month, topping the list in all the categories among his peers. It was tiring just observing all of his efforts. (And inspiring. It forced me to question if there was maybe a little more that I can do too.) After a hugely successful event, I had a chance to congratulate and thank him for his incredible efforts. And to my shock, he confessed that he once considered himself the laziest person he knew, that he was the best at avoiding work. I couldn't believe it. His secret was to attach his efforts in the organization to specific goals he wanted to achieve in other areas of his life. He self-incentivized! But what really changed was his determination.
I have SO many big goals. And sometimes its tough to see the forest for the trees. But I finally get it now. It's about breaking the big goals down into actionable smaller steps. And ticking them off, one at a time.
One page at a time.
One person at a time.
One to-do at time.
One step after the other. Like a little engine on a track.
There's some great printable To-Do lists online. Here's one I like:
enisha b jane
In my own words.
This blog is not about Bill Cosby's sentencing. It's more about personal accountability.
This blog is not about the President or Supreme Court appointments. It is a call to register to vote. (https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/)
This blog is not about the NFL. It's a declaration of peace and justice.
This blog is not about the CardiB or Nicki Minaj scuffle. It's more concerned with women supporting women.
This blog is not about Fashion Week. Though I hope one day it will be! (Ayyyeee)
This blog is not about MeToo or TimesUp or Believe Women. But, believe me, me too and time is up.
This blog is not about immigration and border control. It is a vow to respect the dignity of all human life.
Thing is, it's rare for me to post or debate publicly about the hot button topics, or latest tea, or recent tragedy. I am not oblivious nor am I without an opinion. I simply choose the perspective that builds, that elevates, that is proactive rather than reactive. It helps the pain and dissapointment. Mother Theresa was on to something:
"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally. I'll be there."
There's a small adjustment in the mind and behavior when you go from being "against" something to being "for" something. That's the place I want to operate from. That I NEED to operate from. There's SO much noise. Negativity is such a poison, a drug. It's a habit, an addiction.
Being able to filter the noise is so important. Maybe peace and positivity are like an acquired taste. Does it seem bland? Need more salt? Not for me. It's not good for my pressure (lol). There's SO much of it, all around us. There's a constant barrage of inescapable bad news, it's overwhelming. It's deafening.
I have to protect my peace! Here's how I do it:
The truth is there is SO much good out there. Find it, wrap yourself in it. Bathe in it. Eat it up. We all deserve our slice of joy served warm... daily!
~enisha b jane
In my own words. E as in "elephant"
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:
enisha b jane
In my own words.