Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Team


Before I begin this exploration of team, I want to acknowledge Maya Angelou. I write this on her day of passing and her poem "Still I Rise" resonates through my mind. I am truly grateful for what she gave this world.

I have come to understand the profound importance 'my team' has both personally and professionally in my life. I am primarily an actor and producer and the team of people that I surround myself with is what keeps me afloat, raises my excellence and brings me joy. Sometimes I notice acquaintances of mine have friends, family or partners that are dis-empowered, fearful and negative and I wonder how they handle it. It is hard enough being an artist without having to deal with people bringing you down. I couldn't do it without 'my team'; those who help me Rise.

I have surrounded myself with wise, motivated, brave and hilarious people who are my role models and confidants. When I have a day that brings me to tears because I haven't had enough sleep and I feel under-acknowledged, I have multiple people I can reach out to that will listen to me, love me, support me and give me brilliant advice to help me Rise. On a day when I can't see where I will get my next acting role, and I start to doubt my talent and worth, I have people there to remind me who I am, what I'm up to and help me Rise. On a day when I work with artists who have a different style, taste and level of experience to me, and I want to pull my hair out because I feel so unsatisfied by the work being created, 'my team' help me Rise. These same people are my role models when it comes to how they deal with their own challenges. They watch inspiring videos, read motivational articles and books, meditate with Deepak Chopra and participate in personal development courses like Tony Robbins, Landmark Education and The Virtues Project. They share their inspiration with me and those around them. They get knocked down, they take risks, they fail, but they get back up and continue to Rise.

On a more professional note, I started 7 Centaur Productions and Little y Theatre Company with friends/fellow artists and these companies have managed to produce over 15 film projects, 8 plays, won multiple awards and been awarded grants equaling to many thousands of dollars. My partners through past and current projects - Stevie Cruz-Martin, Georgia King, Alexis Davis, Heloise Wilson, Conrad Le Bron and Josh Makinda - became my right leg. I can’t take a step forward without their hard work, mental and emotional support and incredible integrity. I will share a particularly difficult time when 'My Team" became everything. After spending a year collaborating with Georgia King and Alexis Davis devising a play called "Scent Tales", finding a brilliant director to join the team and being accepted to perform the production at The Blue Room Theatre which included a small grant, free theatre space, equipment and marketing support we faced a tragedy. Alexis passed away in a car accident. Alexis had become a dear friend, co-producer, co-writer and co-actor in my life and all of a sudden she was no longer with us. What to do? Do we cancel the show? You can imagine how many people I called on to help me through this time. We decided to do the show in Alexis' name, and promised each other that every production we do from that moment forward would honor her further.

"Scent Tales" went on to have a sell out season, won Best Production at The Blue Room Theatre Awards amongst other award nominations and wins and was awarded a huge grant to tour the show around Western Australia. If I had a partner who was pressuring me to earn more money - for example; or if my parents were insisting I choose another career path; or if my friends were all in regular day jobs and didn't understand what it was to be an artist, it would have been incredibly difficult to get through that period because I needed all the support I could get. I know that you can't choose your family or (sometimes) who you work with, and I believe that it is important to love and respect the people around you regardless of circumstance or opinion; but you can choose your friends and partners. And it is that choice that could be the very key you needed to Rise to your next level of success.

"My team" rejuvenate me and profoundly shape who I am. I do my best to be there for them as much as they are for me, and to be an inspiration in how I deal with challenges, just as they are for me. And with that kind of give and take commitment, I can only imagine we will create a powerful cyclical tornado, going up, up and UP!