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.
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.
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.
Our latest strategy for dealing with the corona virus? Let me introduce you to the COVID-19 Coping Journal. I’ve always been an advocate of journaling. But when my Mom called me this week and told me about a journal for COVID-19, I lost it. She shared with me that people should write down what they’re going through dealing with COVID-19 so they’ll feel better and not so stressed out. “Really, Mom?” I thought to myself.
I’m the believer of believers when it comes to journals.
I believe in journals so much that my very first journal became the national best seller, The Blueprint for My Girls. True story. Yet, as easy as it is for me to gravitate toward journal writing, I know many people may want to write in a journal but don’t know what to say. So, I wrote this article to help you know what to write in your COVID-19 Coping Journal each day and I created this infographic to give you direction on why you should stay committed to writing in your journal.
Here are 5 topics you can write down in your COVID-19 Coping Journal to help you navigate, survive and be grateful each day.
Topic 1: What are three good things that happened to you today?
I ask my son this question just about every day. The idea is to get him to realize that something good happened to him today. Good things that may have happened? I woke up today. My body wasn’t sick today. I spent time with someone who loved me today.
Topic 2: Reflecting on your family, what are you grateful for today?
Throughout COVID-19 I’ve been able to call my brother and talk to him about all sorts of things. I asked him to help me find a pair of clippers for my son, I asked him for parenting advice and we laughed about different situations from our childhood. Do you have a family member who you’ve been able to connect with today? Do you have a family member who you could call who you’d like to connect with.
Topic 3: Thinking about your health, what are you grateful for today?
Listen, I gotta be real with you. When COVID-19 first hit, I was down and I didn’t want to shower. So each day when I get up and shower, I count that simple action as a win. When you’re examining your daily activities, what wins did you make happen? Did you go outside and exercise? What about wearing your mask? Did you wash your hands each and every time you were supposed to? Guess what? These are all wins.
Topic 4: Reflecting on your life, what are you most proud of today?
As time moves on, life has a way of allowing us to forget some of our biggest accomplishments. But, I’ve learned that remembering our past successes can help us navigate through some of our darkest hours. Think about your life. Congratulate yourself again for something you handled well.
Topic 5: Spiritually, what are the blessings that you could count today?
I have the good fortune of living in Los Angeles which has some of the best weather in the world. I count this among my daily blessings. My community is safe. I also consider this a blessing. Sometimes we forget the simplest of things in life, but it is in simplicity that we find our greatest blessings. Go ahead, count your blessings today.
Use these topics as your daily COVID-19 Coping Journal template. Answering the questions will center you, empower you and just might make you feel better about the days that a lie ahead. Be blessed. If you’d like to read some of our other COVID-19 Coping articles, feel free.
Three weeks into being quarantined with the rest of Los Angeles County, I experienced a short bout of depression. I frantically searched nearby states to go hide until coronavirus blew over. My COVID-19 coping eluded me. I contemplated abandoning my LA apartment to return to my home in Northern, VA. My chest tightened as anxiety pulsed through my body. Alternating from my couch to my bed, I went at least four days without bathing. In essence, I was a hot, stankin’ mess. But somewhere in between smelling my own funk, and being tired of self-pity, a small, dim light went off in my head. And with its luminescence came a diminutive voice which said, “Reach out to people who can help you.”
But, who can help me?
I remember staring at blank walls, asking myself, “Who can help me?” I immediately thought of two people. Motivational speaker, Bryant Smith and producer / writer, Bruce Gordon were my two go to peeps. Bryant, a friend who I’ve known more years than I care to admit, is a prolific writer and empowerment super hero. He could tell people in hell that it isn’t going to be so bad, and they’d believe him. With the coronavirus all up in my mind, I needed a pep talk from Bryant.
Bruce, the second person that I thought of has been a writing colleague of mine for at least four years. When we met, we just clicked and have encouraged each other ever since. I wanted to speak with Bruce because the coronavirus had me thinking I was alone and isolated. He would be the dear friend who would tell me, “I’m in the trenches with you.”
I texted both Bryant and Bruce on the same day and thankfully they penciled me in for phone calls in short order. I hadn’t heard Bryant’s golden voice in ten years or more, but his vibration was the same—upbeat, encouraging, and elevating. Bruce surprised me with his advice. He’s the friend that gives you what you need but often not what you are expecting. Moved by what he said to me, I’ve already written a post about it.
3 Reasons Everyone Should Connect With Their Network While Under Quarantine
Through talking to Bryant and Bruce I realized three reasons why everybody should reacquaint themselves with their network during this time of coronavirus quarantine.
1. Speaking with people who are positive and encouraging makes you feel empowered. The advice that I received from my two colleagues has left me floating for several weeks on end.
2. Connecting with old colleagues who remember who you’ve been remind you of who you can become and remind you that your destiny awaits. Bryant remembers my first business and booked me as a speaker at Clemson University so long ago. Being nostalgic brought laughter to my heart and tears to my eyes.
3. It is those who know you and who are going through it as you are, who remind you that you are not alone. Knowing that Bryant and Bruce feel my pain but encouraged me to remain positive, gave me just the nudge I needed. Talking to my crew, my team—that’s what it felt like.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
So, I encourage everyone reading this post to pick up the phone. Remember the people who have crossed your paths. Reflect upon that person in your circle who gives uplifting advice. We may not be able to do everything on our own, but it’s amazing what we can do together.
This is the second installment of our COVID-19 coping series. If you have a COVID-19 coping story, email us: blacktvfilmcrew AT gmail.com.
Photo credits: The top photo is stock photography shot by Christina@wocintechchat.com. The photo on the right is of empowerment speaker Bryant Smith.
COVID-19 has been kicking our asses. It has. We’re locked in, fed up and broke. Many of us. Just stating the facts. About three weeks into COVID-19, I got sick and tired of being well, sick and tired. I decided to call a couple of my business colleagues and get some advice on how to get out of the COVID-19 blackhole. BlackTVFilmCrew.com will be sharing a series of articles on how to use COVID-19 to help us overcome.
My colleague who is the inspiration behind this article is Bruce Gordon, of Bruce Gordon Media. He’s a writer, producer, editor and giver of good advice and had a lot to say when we got on the call. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.
What do we need to do to get out of the COVID-19 blackhole?
Me: Bruce, I’m bouncing off the walls. I like to be able to go outside or at least know that I can go outside.
Bruce: Well, let me tell you how I’m handling COVID-19. I’m doing everything I couldn’t do when I was working full time.
Me: Huh? What do you mean?
Bruce: When I’m working full-time, there is never anytime to do some of the projects that I really want to do. Now, I’m taking the time and making the time.
Silence. There was absolute silence on the phone. My silence. Had my good friend Bruce dropped a heavenly gem? Had he just given me the secret to COVID-19 success? When we got off the phone I sat on the edge of my bed and reflected.
I had not thought about what COVID-19 had given me: More Free Time
The entire three weeks that I’d been on COVID-19 lockdown all I thought about is what I couldn’t do.
I couldn’t go hiking in Baldwin Hills. I couldn’t go to the production offices where I work. I couldn’t go to BJ’s where I order my favorite gluten-free pizza. I couldn’t go to the Apple store and look at a new iPhone. I couldn’t shoot the new web series that I’d been thinking about.
I’d been so consumed with what COVID-19 had taken from me that I had not thought of what COVID-19 had given me: More Free Time.
An Attitude Shift’s Coming…
So today, I urge everyone who reads this post to remember the time you’ve been given—if in fact, you are laid off, working part-time or are otherwise unemployed. Is there something that you’ve wanted to do but didn’t have the time? COVID-19 is giving you the time.
Black TV Film Crew’s 3 COVID-19 Tips:
1. Do something you didn’t have time to do when you were working full-time.
2. Call a colleague with some good sense.
3. Think about something that matters to you and then go back to tip #1.
This article isn’t meant to make light of COVID-19 so let me be clear. COVID-19 is a monster but what we choose to do with that monster is our business. I wish you productivity, creativity, safety and success.
Call to Action: Do you have any tips that are helping you get through COVID-19? Share them with us. Write an article and submit it to us at blacktvfilmcrew AT gmail.com.
Photo above: Bruce Gordon, courtesy of Bruce Gordon Media.