“What I really want to do is be a representative of my race, of the human race. I have a chance to show how kind we can be, how intelligent and generous we can be. I have a chance to teach and to love and to laugh. I know that when I finish doing what I’m sent here to do, I will be called home. And I will go home without any fear, or trepidations, wondering what’s gonna happen.”
– Maya Angelou
I have to tell you, last weekend my world was blown wide open. I saw Beyoncé’s Homecoming on Netflix.
Written, directed, and produced by the Queen Bey, the film documents the making of and live performance of her 2018 Coachella Show.
The first black woman to headline the infamous festival, she spent 8 months conceiving an original piece that was not only a love letter to her heritage, but an explosive night of empowerment.
Steppers, dancers, full orchestra, breakers, a baton twirler, back up singers, full drum line…..all on a massive bleacher.
Beyoncé created her own black university up on that stage; alive, proud, unapologetic, and celebratory.
And the film was rich with quotes from prominent black voices like Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and one of the greatest female writers of our time, Maya Angelou.
I was SO inspired.
And did I mention she created this show after Jay Z cheated on her, a very difficult pregnancy, gaining a ton of weight, and birthing twins?
And none of it was sugar coated. Beyoncé was very open about her fears and doubts. She was raw, free of makeup, and struggling to learn choreography after a long hiatus.
So, we saw this juxtaposition of her dressed as Nefertiti, standing in her power AND sharing the road to this moment.
“I studied my history, I studied my past, and I put every mistake, all of my triumphs–my 22-year career–into my 2-hour Homecoming performance.”
Standing strong, standing confident and saying to the world,
Here I am.
What has stuck with me since seeing the film was when she said,
I wanted to make an environment where no one felt marginalized.
That last word went through me.
Verb meaning – to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.
Have you ever felt that?
Do you have something important to say?
Do you want to say this with your Art?
Have you struggled with HOW to do this?
I remember for years secretly wanting to be the lead, to create my own show. It had started young, starring in and directing my own version of the musical Annie when I was eight.
Then, choreographing an original ballet to Hans Andersen’s The Little Match Girl in high school.
And when I entered the professional world out of college, I started with guns a blazing. I was on fire, turning down work and working towards my biggest dream.
But over time and with so many rejections, I struggled. While I worked in my profession, I couldn’t seem to step out of the ensemble or playing supporting roles. I started to doubt if I “had what it takes”.
And then I lost everything, my marriage, my home, my car….and I questioned if I was still an Artist.
But even through the deepest pain, I kept dancing. And I returned to writing. The Artist was still very alive.
So I hired a coach, because I wanted more for my life, and I created my one woman show, my company ZenRedNYC.
I had felt marginalized as a woman in my profession. I had felt I was a dime a dozen, and had to compete to survive. I felt I had to “be what they wanted” instead of spending my time figuring out WHO I was.
I had thought my recognition would come from someone else giving the green light, whether it was a director, or a casting agent, or a choreographer. I never imagined I could actually CREATE it myself.
After my divorce, I was sick of trying to be someone else, or that image of perfection I THOUGHT was going to get me cast and bring me the roles I wanted. Turns out, I had the right idea as a young girl.
I reconnected with that eight year old and took a leap. I started saying what I really wanted to say, raw and real. And to my shock, when I was vulnerable and real, it actually brought people close, AND it opened them to do the same.
Beyoncé moved me deeply because she created this show.
She didn’t wait for permission.
She didn’t ask if it was ok.
She created it herself.
And formed a family around her that shared her vision.
“I’m so lucky and grateful that I’m able to take all these crazy ideas and actually make it into something that heals people; that may spark vision in people, that shows them to dream big, that shows them that they are limitless. It’s possible. If my country ass can do it, they can do it.”
And you can.
It can be so easy to get caught up in believing the gatekeepers hold the reins, but what if you are more powerful than you know?
What if the reins are YOURS to take up?
If someone gave you a permission slip TODAY, and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do differently?
Art has the power to change the world, one beautiful audience member at a time. You possess this, because you made a choice to be an Artist. You made the choice to CREATE. And maybe it’s not even a choice…maybe it just IS.
Because all we have is today. Your greatest point of power is the present moment.
So, what do you want to say?
What is the show that is dying to be birthed?
Is it a book
As Beyonce says,
You are limitless.
Stand beside the great women and men who have come before you to make this moment possible.
Step forward and share your light.
“Tell the truth, to yourself first, and to the children. Live in the present. Don’t deny the past…and know that the charge on you is to make this country more than it is today.”