Most actors I know who pay attention to award season find it to be a time of great inspiration and deep reflection about their own careers. This one was no different for me. And without opining too much on who won, who didn't win, and who should have received a much deserved nomination, I must say I was moved to happy tears alongside my community of Asian friends and actors as history was made! Here though, I'd simply like to share more on what I believe it takes to keep an elusive dream alive: Courage & Longevity.
C O U R A G E
I've been thinking a lot about how to transform my ability to see hypothetical outcomes in the negative far more clearly than being able to see them as successes. Maybe it's a defense mechanism to guard against heartbreak and disappointment. Some might even call it being a realist. But if it can all fail (your greatest dream, your highest goal, your most desired outcome) shouldn't the possibility exist that it can all come to fruition and be exactly as you desire it to be, if not better? I'm working on answering YES to this question more and more. But it takes courage, something I've had to redefine recently.
Beyond faithless optimism, to me courage is:
L O N G E V I T Y
This job ain't for the weak! It's also not for those who are seeking nano speed success. I firmly believe our greatest success isn't even sustainable if we haven't had the time to build a sturdy foundation and develop some character along the way. Michelle Yeoh said in her speech "Don't let anyone say you're past your prime". I literally crossed my legs--all sassy like--and proclaimed to the group of friends who'd gathered to watch the Oscars last Sunday, "Exactly, 'cause I need time."
It's been said many times over: This is long ball. A marathon. A process. I will never forget something Glynn Truman said at a panel years ago. I am paraphrasing here, but it was something to the effect of "Keep honing your craft, and eventually your talent will make a way for you." I believe this with my whole life. In fact, the proof of my absolute trust in this truth is that I am still here!
"Don't let anyone say you're past your prime."
enisha b jane
In my own words.
P.S. And now for the opining: ANGELA BASSET DESERVES HER FLOWERS TOO!
Below are the thoughts I shared last month on IG after the nominations were announced for Best Actress and Best Director:
I’m going to share this “live-writing” stream-of-consciousness post as it is happening.
Here is my attempt to unpack a big ol’ cry that still has my eyes feeling that tired, slightly cool sensation that lingers, like a reminder.
K. For context, I was just watching an episode of Queer Eye where a girl of about 11 years old nominated her dad for the show. The little girl ice skates and is damn good! Her dad is working on showing up for her so Johnathan brings him to the ice skating rink to watch her practice and get tips from none other than Olympic figure skating icon, Michelle Kwan! And it’s an unbelievable, magical moment for the girl, for her dad, for Johnathan and... daggonit... who gets swept up in the emotions? Me.
But my joyful laughing/crying, happy-for-this-lovely-young-lady, morphs ever so smoothly into tears of grief, tears of pain for my own missed opportunities during childhood.
Ugh. Is this because my birthday is coming up in about a month? Again?! Good lord. And the waterworks turn into a full on wail as I go through the moments I felt so alive and connected to gymnastics and dreamed of being an Olympian... All of which was all but shattered by my own father’s words: “It’s too late, you’ll never go to the olympics. Do you know how early those girls start training?” I think on how many times I’ve played that conversation over in my head. I acknowledge that this tape runs through my head even today, and often, and has become a fully realized inner voice applicable to so many of my goals and dreams now.
I cry for my 6 or 7 year old self. I weep for the adult who wrestles with the fear that I’m always too late. That I’ll never achieve it. That I’m not good enough. That I’ll never EVER catch up.
I mourn for the little me that had time, a supple body, a limitless reservoir of possibilities. I wish I could go back in time. Give her everything she needed. Say all the right words, shower her with encouragement and resources, and mentors.
But I can’t go back in time. I have to make it work now. I literally cannot change what’s already happened. And it breaks my heart. It makes me angry. It hurts. And the shittiest part about it is, that’s just the way it is. TIME KEEPS A-ticking. All I can do is move forward now, and I can’t seem to find any solace in that anywhere. Ugh.
I wish I didn’t remember. I wish I didn’t feel it. I wish it didn’t matter. But it does. Ugh.
I forgive him. I forgive both my parents for everything. They were babies themselves just trying to figure it out. They won’t even remember, and probably hardly realize. It’s my burden to bear now. I’m a whole entire adult... and have been for a while now.
E as in elephant
In my own words.
The season 2 finale of S.W.A.T. will be an explosive one!
I have been been catching up on the show this season and feel super late to the party! The storylines and action are high-octane! Shemar Moore is at the top of his game in my humble opinion.
Tune in on May 16th, 10/9c on CBS and catch me as the field reporter, Abby.
Episode 23 “Kangaroo” touches on extremism and the lengths some will go to in order to make a statement.
I’m super happy to have been cast and to get to do what I love! Here’s hoping there’s much more to come, and soon!
** Updated 4-8-2019**
Episode entitled, "The Whole Package" aired Thursday 4/4 on ABC.
This week I shot an episode of the landmark television show Grey’s Anatomy. With last night’s episode, Grey’s becomes the longest running medical drama in television history.
Luckily for me, I was filming my last day of an upcoming episode on the same day Grey’s achieved this astounding benchmark and had the chance to celebrate with cast, crew and producers. It was truly an honor!
My episode, entitled “The Whole Package” will air in early April on ABC. I’ll be sure to post details as they become available. Stay tuned!
enisha b jane
In my own words.
If you are an arts patron, if you are a theatre lover, if you are a person living in this society and find yourself in LA between now and February 10th... you've got to see this show!
And not just because I am in it. Seriously. I am the least of a reason. I am on stage as a Supernumerary; simply put, as a representation of another segment of the society in a different place and time.
See it because the cast is brilliant. See it because the direction is alive. See it because the set is spectacular. See it because it is provocative. These are not overstatements. I am in awe every night by the magic of this production, the execution by the players and the #message it carries for all of us.
An Inspector Calls runs January 22 - February 10th @ The Wallis
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.
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.•
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.
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.
enisha b jane
In my own words.