Your audience! When you write/produce/direct content, your audience is paramount right? Therefore you gotta cater to them. What’s gonna resonate with them? What’s trending? What’s gonna go viral? What’s gonna generate the most clicks? What’s gonna have the broadest reach and capture the most viewers? People pay big money to answer these – you crack the right formula and you’re off to the races! It’s like breaking it down to a science.
A few years ago, as I started to make videos and journal my experiences in my spare time, I approached different outlets whose editors told me my style wouldn’t resonate with their target demographics. I tried to wiggle a little towards more of what they wanted but it didn’t feel authentic. My expression didn’t feel like mines anymore cuz my truth was being diluted. I ended up walking away from some fairly lucrative projects cuz my conscience wouldn’t let me go through with them.
“You can either take it like this or we can leave it at that”. That’s how I’ve ended a few working relationships and I didn’t have any regrets. I was happy to keep doing my own thing and let my stories sit on my own platform. It may not have been paid but it was all me.
When you put someone else’s interests before your own, you’re essentially giving up your voice. And that’s where your true power is. Putting myself first isn’t always the greatest tactic for business [at least it doesn’t seem so in the moment I make those calls] but it works itself out in other ways – ways that are often more meaningful. Some might try to label you stubborn or difficult but I think it’s worth noting that eventually those same outlets I dipped on circled back to ask me to feature in their projects again. And I get to be in control of how I tell my story.
Compromise. She pops up everywhere and truth be told, I’m sick of her. In my professional career, in my relationships – she be showing her ASS. But let’s cover work for now and leave the rest for the next chapter.
Before I go any further, I wanna make it clear that since I started working in television, I’ve been in the position where I took on gigs that were problematic and/or didn’t align with who I was cuz they helped boost my profile [not to mention I had to eat!] So I don’t cast any judgment towards people landing jenky roles in an industry where work is especially scarce for underrepresented groups.
But call it what it is. If you’re in the very real position where you’re worried about jeopardising your career [a very valid concern] you don’t have to necessarily announce it publicly right away but be honest with yourself if you can’t with anyone else. Defending it and dressing it up as gold when it’s wrought with stereotypes and ignorance will keep perpetuating it as well as hold you in that place.
This is a real struggle for a lot of my people, from up and comers to seasoned professionals. We often have to compromise to get a foot in the door. Compromise to get to the next step. Compromise to attain certain levels of “success”. Our values, our politics, our passions. At what point do you say “ok I got what I need, I have the resources to come from a place of truth now” and step outta the machine? This question has come up for me a lot lately where I’ll consult with my loved ones and meditate on it to help find answers.
While I’ve been speaking mostly within the context of entertainment, this can apply to anyone in any field where we spend our days doing something we don’t love. Clocking in rather than creating. We compromise chasing our dreams because that’s not what it is to be an adult. That’s not stability. So we take on a job that is just that – a job to pay the bills and accumulate the things we’re told BY OTHERS are signifiers of success. Going back to whose interests you’re putting first. You or society’s? Be really honest with yourself cuz tricking yourself into thinking you’re happy is not happiness.
Whether concessions are made at one point or another, ultimately, I know I don’t wanna compromise. I think this is where it comes down to what kind of trajectory you see for yourself – what is it that you want most? Fame and fortune? Financial security? Or creative freedom? While these wants aren’t mutually exclusive [and hopefully lend themselves to one another], ambitions for material wealth are really a cover for something deeper – your TRUE desires can only really be grounded in the intangible.
Interested to hear how people have consolidated these conflicting factors in their lives.