THE POWER OF NO
My name is Renika Williams and I’m a Theatre, TV, & Film Actress, Teaching Artist, and one of the founding members of the Uptown Collective. I’ll be writing blogs posts that will include my journey as an actor, craft, self care, tips, artist interviews, and all things Uptown Collective. This blog is for the everyday dreamer no matter who you are aspiring and working to become.
Transitions have always been hard for me. Transitioning from private to public school. Transitioning from suburbia Ohio to living in New York City. Transitioning from life before loss and life after loss. It’s never been easy for me. If I’m honest, I’m often afraid of entering into new seasons in my life. Sometimes, I can feel it coming before the transition even actually begins. Most times, it feels like my head and shoulders have entered a new realm but my knees and toes are still planted on the ground of the last chapter. I’m currently transitioning from a world where I only performed on stages to adding performing on screen to my resume. The weight of this transition feels heavy. The pressure of visibility is looming in a way that it never has before. The safety and security of the sanctuary that is the theatre seems far off in the distance and I’m yearning to get it back.
In our last panel (The TalkBack Artist, Choices & Values), we discussed core values and how they influence the roles we pursue. The conversation was timely because it’s something that has been on my heart and mind a lot lately. Every decision I make feels heavier than ever. There was a time when I didn’t have any auditions at all, and now, thank God, that is no longer a problem. But there is a new problem. The problem is the new challenge of learning when or how to say no. No to a specific character and their requirements. No to the giving of my time. No to sacrificing my peace. No to anything that doesn’t serve me and my desired trajectory of my life and career. I’ve had to learn how to exercise the Power of No. In college, my instructors often told us as young artists we’d have to say yes to work. Free work. Small work. Whatever. Just say yes to work to build your resume. Needless to say, I’m in a season that is in full disagreement with that advice.
I’m transitioning from yes to no. I’m transitioning from doing for everyone except myself to pouring into me and those who do the same. The more I grow, the more I see every audition, every meeting, every choice I make as significant. I can’t do everything and neither do I want to. I’m working on constantly checking in with myself and making sure I’m honoring the woman I want to be in the Earth. And it’s hard. Sometimes I change my mind. Most times, I don’t. Every time it’s scary. But irregardless of how scary it is, I do it any way. I’m more afraid of losing myself in the process. Television or no television. Fame or no fame. Work or no work. I’ll be me all day every day and I’m working to make sure no matter the circumstance, no matter the transition, I’m still proud of me and how I show up.
Word to the Wise:
1) Create a morning routine and stick to it. Wake up, pray, meditate, drink coffee, exercise, eat breakfast, practice yoga, have a dance party, call your mother, whatever your morning routine looks like, stick to it. Creating a morning routine helped me when things started to pick up and get hectic. Instead of disrupting my entire morning routine with last minute work, meetings, and/or auditions, I made the commitment to pour into myself every single morning even if that meant waking up earlier in order to do so.
2) Get a therapist. Your friends are not your therapist. Your mother is not your therapist (and you’re not hers either). Artists experience a ton of rejection on a weekly basis. Artists go through more dry spells than most professionals in other industries. So, um, get a therapist. There’s no shame. Learn the tools to help you navigate the ups and downs of your career. Address your past and the reasons you are the way you are. It’s scary but do it any way.
3) Watch interviews of artists who inspire you. Read autobiographies. Ask a seasoned artist who you admire and respect to be your mentor. Give yourself permission to learn from others. Then pass it on when you have the chance.
Moment of Reflection: Meditate on these questions this week?
1. In what areas of my life do I need to practice saying “no” as a “yes” to myself and my needs?
2. Who in my life can I healthfully lean on to remind me to pour into myself by saying “no”?
3. What have I learned so far about myself so far in the current transition that I’m in?
Suggested Read: Boundaries:When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud
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