5 Ways 2020 Has Made Me A Better Person

5 Ways 2020 Has Made Me A Better Person

Several weeks ago a member of Black TV Film Crew said that she was happy with the year 2020  even with the police brutality being exposed as well as COVID-19. I couldn’t wrap my mind around her statement or be happy with the deaths that have come from COVID-19. I responded, “A lot of people would still be here if it weren’t for the pandemic.” Nonetheless, she stood firm in her position and simply replied, “The things that we’re seeing now, they were happening before. We needed to do something about them.” The truth in her words felt like a strong left hook. Could she be right?  

Whenever someone’s truth stuns me, I step back, look in the mirror and begin to ask myself some questions. The question here: “What did I need to do about anything?”

I immediately thought about my businesses. I’m a screenwriter and TV producer in the day time. Prior to the pandemic I focused on my TV producer work but didn’t focus as much on my Black TV Film Crew brand. When I thought about my colleague’s statement, I knew I needed to make some changes. I realized that I wasn’t as purposeful with my businesses in 2019 as I have been in 2020. So, here are the 5 ways 2020 has made me a better person and a better entrepreneur. 

1. Make Time for My Businesses Every Day

When the pandemic gave me more free time (3 weeks off,) I started to think about my businesses—their impact, profitability and reach. I started to ask myself, “What can I do better?” The answer: Make time for my Black TV Film Crew brand every single day. Don’t make excuses. Even on days when I’m tired, I will contribute to make Black TV Film Crew a brand I’m proud of. 

2. Learned Something That Other People Use A Lot

When George Floyd’s death hit national headlines, my crew member’s question slapped me in the face again. This time the question: “With all that I have been blessed with, what can I do to help  Black activism?” How can I help the fight against police brutality and move the culture forward in a real activist type of way? That question motivated me but woke me up in the morning like I had caffeine cursing through my veins. 2020 forced me to learn how to do 30 second IG videos to get an activism message across to the masses. I decided I wanted to be part of the solution, so I taught myself. 

3. Learned New Ways To Hustle

I’ve been watching so many webinars on a variety of subjects. I’ll type in something on Google then go and watch it. I’ve learned new skills that I know will help further my businesses.  If not for COVID-19, if not for George Floyd’s death stirring something deep in my soul, I wouldn’t feel such a sense of urgency to learn more and to be better. Taking new actions made me feel like a better person.

4. Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone

There are so many new things that I’ve learned during 2020 which I am now trying out with my businesses. Whether its posting a social media video or promoting a Black culture activism initiative, these are all very new to me. I’m nervous about them, but I believe my actions are for the greater good and so I’m happy no matter the response. In other words, I don’t need 1,000 likes to feel like I’ve hit a homerun.

5. Accepted myself and my unique skill set

If I were to honestly criticize myself, I would probably say that I don’t spend enough time celebrating my talents while thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But, 2020 has given me the time to utilize my talents in a variety of ways. Using my talents at the highest level has given me both courage and confidence.  How many writers can say they’ve written 10+ books, helmed a marketing company, produced an Emmy award winning show, run a Black culture brand with an audience over 250k, and spoke in front of an audience of 5k at the Essence Music Festival. The point is, now, I accept myself. I don’t have to be anyone else in order to be happy. I’m me. And that’s enough. I certainly feel like I’m a better person as a result.

Dear Non-Black Friend: 7 Things Your Black Friend Wants You To Know

Dear Non-Black Friend: 7 Things Your Black Friend Wants You To Know

This month black people cried, screamed, rioted, and fumed because we saw Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murdered in front of our very eyes. We noticed that many of our non-black friends were quiet. Black people were outraged with Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York’s Central Park, who weaponized her whiteness. She called the police on a black man for telling her to leash her dog. She lied and that untruth could have cost a black man his life. It didn’t matter. She lied anyway. We saw many of our non-black friends simply shrug.  

Though you may not see it, every time a black person is senselessly murdered, it becomes a sort of black communal pain. Black people are so used to it, we think, “here we go again,” but we want our white friends, co-workers, neighbors, and associates to share our outrage. We’re human after all. 

This is an awkward conversation…

This is an awkward conversation to have with you, but one that is long past due. If you are truly my friend… If you value my work and contributions to the workplace… If you appreciate the way I am neighborly, then you will accept this essay as intended. Your assistance is needed to stop the senseless killing of black people. I haven’t been able to tell you before, but I must tell you now. These are the 7 things, me, your black friend, want you to know about my life. 

1. Dear Non-Black Friend, I need you to know that I’m tired of people who share my skin tone being killed for nothing more than sheer racism. I need you to use your privilege to stop these killings. Get people fired. Do whatever it takes to let your people know that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. You can pull some rugs. Pull them.

2. Dear Non-Black Friend, please realize that blacks and whites are often treated differently by police officers and it’s not always the fault of the black person. Though we know all cops aren’t racist, some of them are and we have video evidence. Denying what is clearly on video is hurtful and despicable. I don’t want you to deny what I’m seeing. I want you to see it with me and feel the pain.

3. Dear Non-Black Friend, the black people who didn’t have weapons, who were shot in the back, who were choked to death were just like me. They were living their day to day lives. Like me, they wanted to go home to their families at the end of the day. It’s a mistake thinking all unarmed black people killed by police were all criminals. They weren’t. Most of them were regular people. Just. Like. Me

4. Dear Non-Black Friend, you know how you can go outside and walk by the police and not worry that you’re going to be killed? I can’t do that. My family members can’t do that. We can’t do that because members of your community think people in my community are less than human. At your dinner table, I need you to remind them—hell, force them —to understand  that black people are human. Black people are in fact, people.

I didn’t pull out a knife or a gun… I didn’t choke you.

5. Dear Non-Black Friend, remember when we met? I didn’t do anything hateful toward you. I didn’t pull out a knife or a gun. I didn’t choke you. I didn’t do these things because most black folks like me don’t carry weapons. And yet, some of us have been shot in broad daylight as if we do. We don’t. I need you to remember this and for you to tell your people. Most black people are not carrying weapons, nor do they have a desire to stab, maim, wound and kill people. 

6. Dear Non-Black Friend, the next time you see a video of a black unarmed person being killed, I want you to think that its me. I want you to be so hurt and outraged that you do something. Be angry enough to call your congressman, the governor and all the other white people you know and start a tsunami of outrage that makes your people stop killing. I want you to care. I need you to care and take action. 

7. Dear Non-Black Friend, I don’t wanna hear excuses for when your people kill my people when it was clearly senseless violence prompted by racism. You never have to worry about a white man not returning home after a traffic stop or a misunderstanding with police. For black people, I worry about that every day. But, when I hear the rationalizing of an unarmed black woman or black man being killed by police or racist vigilantes, it tells me that you don’t see my humanity and that you are not truly my friend. 

Writing this essay to you brought tears to my eyes because I consider us friends. But after you read this, I’ll know for sure. 

The murders of both Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd inspired this essay. But we also remember Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and many others. May everyone get home safely today and always.

Beating Anxiety: 7 Ways To Kick Worry To the Curb

Beating Anxiety: 7 Ways To Kick Worry To the Curb

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a lot of colleagues talking about anxiety on social media. I’m sure COVID-19 is playing a big role and sparking fear. But, whether we’re living in a pandemic state or post-pandemic, anxiety is a mental health disorder that if it goes unchecked can interfere with a person’s day to day activities. I know we need help beating anxiety. I haven’t always had anxiety but I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older, there are times when I’ve felt a bit more anxious. There are days when my anxiety is higher than others but I’ve finally figured out 7 ways to kick unnecessary worry to the curb. Here they are: 

Deal with the issues.

1. When I feel anxiety about dealing with a person, I decide to deal with whatever the issue is. My first step might be to journal how I’m feeling but after I have my thoughts clear, I process how I want to handle it. If I feel its not anything for me to address with the person than I let it go. If I deem it worth my time, then I take the issue to the person. I used to get frustrated and not talk about the issues and this led to me having anxiety in the first place. It was hard to deal with my feelings but now that I deal with my issues head on, I feel much better. 

Take action.

2. Take action with whatever you’re running from or worried about. If you’re worried about something at your job, come up with a strategy which allows you to be in the best position. Dealing with a bad personal relationship, take the issue to the person like I mentioned above. If it’s a health issue, knowledge is power. Worrying without action brings about anxiety. Doing something about your concerns reduces anxiety. 

Avoid fear mongers.

3. Stay away from and stop listening to fear mongers. People who are constantly telling us that the sky is falling are literally bringing about anxiety. If you’re on social media giving your attention to people who are saying horrifying things, you are gonna get frightened. You gotta guard your inner peace from fear mongers. 

Stay in the present moment.

4. Stay in the present moment. A lot of folks say it, but what it means is: Think about what you’re doing right now. If you’re in a safe environment… if your belly is full, if your loved ones are safe, think about that. Worry is a preoccupation with what is going to happen in the future. By focusing on what is going on right now, it allows you to eliminate outside distractions. 

Count your blessings.

5. Be grateful and count your blessings. If you woke up this morning, be grateful. Are you healthy? Be grateful. If you can pay all your bills, be grateful. Having gratitude for the blessings in your life will help eliminate feelings of anxiety. Sometimes I write a list to remind me of all the blessings in my life. Listing and counting my blessings brings me joy and makes me ultimately less anxious. 

Accept the things you cannot change.

6. Accept the things you cannot change. For me anxiety and frustration have often gone hand in hand. Learning to accept the things that I cannot change reduced both anxiety and frustration. There are things in life dealing with family, health, COVID-19, Hollywood, etc that we can’t change. But, what we can do is come up with a strategy for success that works for us. No more wasting time worrying about people, stuff and things. Our time is best spent being focused on how we want to live our lives. 

Let it go.

7. Finally, my all time favorite anxiety buster is: letting go. Some things just aren’t worth thinking about. Some people aren’t worth fighting for. They aren’t. Being anxious about someone’s behavior that you can’t control isn’t helping you. So, let it go. Being anxious about an obnoxious boss, ain’t gonna help you. Looking for a new job though will empower you. So, choose empowerment. Let the other stuff go. 

When anxiety creeps in, I take myself through these 7 reminders. Then I ask myself, “Is what I’m worrying about currently making my life better?” If the answer is no, then I know to let it go. It keeps me beating anxiety.

7 Risk Factors For Depression Everyone Should Know

7 Risk Factors For Depression Everyone Should Know

There are 7 risk factors for depression that everyone should know. At Black TV Film Crew, we want to support your work but also your mental health. People who work in the creative field have shown to have a higher susceptibility of depression. We’ve witnessed too many people suffer in silence and wanted to share these 7 risk factors for depression. 

7 Risk Factors For Depression

  1. Loneliness & Isolation: Many of us think we can do everything on our own until we realize that we can’t. Being lonely and isolating ourselves can increase our risk of depression. 
  2. Marital or Relationship Problems: Abusive relationships or bad relationships make us more susceptible to depression. 
  3. Recent Stressful Life Experiences: Unemployment, financial problems, losing a loved one, and divorce are all stressful life experiences that can increase our risk of depression. 
  4. Chronic Illness or Pain: Unmanaged pain or a chronic illness diagnosis like diabetes, heart disease or cancer can increase our risk of depression. 
  5. Family History: They say, “Mental illness runs in families.” So, if you have depression in your family, any family member is likely to be more susceptible to also suffering from a mental illness. But, knowledge is power. Talk to your family members and equip yourself. 
  6. Personality: Some of us are chronic worriers. Many of us are so self-critical that we lower our own self-esteem. Those personality traits make us more susceptible to depression. 
  7. Early Childhood Trauma and Abuse: Survivors of childhood trauma are often told to bury what has happened to us. But many of us know that you can’t just forget being abused or traumatized. Suffering from childhood trauma and abuse can lead to depression. 

Erase the stigma of mental illness

Believing that you suffer from depression can often lead to feelings of shame or guilt. Let’s erase the stigma of mental illness. Encourage your friends and colleagues to seek help from a qualified medical professional. Please download and share this graphic. You never know who is suffering in silence. The National Suicide Helpline is 1.800.273.TALK.

Featured photo courtesy of Hian Oliveira. 

Where Did Black TV Film Crew Come From?

Where Did Black TV Film Crew Come From?

Hello. My name is Yasmin Shiraz and the Black TV Film Crew site is about to get personal. The day after Trump won the election in 2016, I started the Black TV Film Crew community. Born from the desire to connect with black folks working in the television, film and entertainment industry, I wanted to create a sense of family, connection and support. 

I’ve worn many hats but I’ve always lacked solid support.

I looked at my career over the years: magazine publisher, author, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter,  marketing executive and TV producer. I’ve worn many hats and have many talents but what I’ve always lacked is solid support. Who did I go to when I received a rejection letter from a major publisher? Who did I call when my film wasn’t accepted into a film festival? The biggest aspirations often come with the biggest let downs. Through my journey I realize its not about everything working out as you’ve planned but to have the determination and tenacity to keep going. But what about support? How do you keep going when your heart is breaking? 

How do you keep going when your heart is breaking?

With evaluating my life during COVID-19, I decided to make Black TV Film Crew even more personal and share some of my own industry and life stories with this community.  There’s a new section on the site called “Letters From The Editor.” This section will include posts that sometimes will have nothing to do with film, tv or entertainment. These posts might deal with heartbreak, depression, determination, motivation—whatever I’m feeling to get to the next stop in my journey. I’ve decided to share openly because I realize I’m not alone and though my experiences are unique to me, someone else may gain something from what I’m sharing. Also, as creators we are inspired by what is real and authenticity is what connects us. 

Crew Meet Ups

As creators we are inspired by what is real.

Every time I go through something with work—pitching a television show, getting hired to produce another, I always check-in with myself. Do I feel supported? Am I supporting others? It seems to me that no matter how much talent you have, you still need support. 

I hope Black TV Film Crew can be the support you need to help you navigate your career.