31 Days, 32 Revelations: Playing The Game Is Played Out

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 13 of 31- Playing The Game Is Played Out

I just read this story about actress and comedian Mo’Nique speaking about how she was blackballed in Hollywood after having success in the movie “Precious”.  Director, Lee Daniels expressed that Mo’Nique hurt her self during the course of the Precious production by “making unreasonable demands and not playing the game”. As far as I’m concerned, she may have been “unreasonable” or even difficult. What I take issue with is the fact that the game isn’t the same for everyone. She was not and will not be the last difficult celebrity to grace a movie stage. Difficult and unreasonable demands of movie stars on set is the kind of fodder that lines tabloids daily. The difficulty doesn’t stop Hollywood from spending millions of dollars supporting projects with some of these people.

This story line is no different to what goes on in Corporate America everyday. I recall just a few years ago being discouraged from filing an EEO claim by an HR person  who cautioned me to “play the game”. I even recall women executives in meetings setting women’s suffrage back several decades by giggling, twirling their hair and flirting through negotiations. My question is: what is the game? Is the game that you “shut up, smile and look pretty” as actress Sheryl Lee Ralph suggests? Why is the advice to women in 2015 that we should bat our eyes, smile when we are displeased and not be heard? If the game is about brown-nosing and/or keeping up appearances, I am out.

I’m not suggesting you have outbursts like a child when the spirit moves you ; but a person should be able to demand and communicate needs and wants without it being tied back to some facade you have to keep up to get ahead. It should be the case that any women can show up to the boardroom or the set as she is. We shouldn’t have to apologize for who we are and why we want what we want, Men do it all the time and don’t have to perform in the manner that we are expected to as women.

Who knows?  Mo’Nique could very well have been terrible to work with. I just wished we lived in a society that treated like instances equally. In this case, that would mean blackballing every actor or actress that is difficult. The truth is money is spent on people that are liked, can bring in revenue and “look” and “act” the part. I wasn’t that person when I worked in Corporate America and Mo’Nique isn’t that for Hollywood unfortunately,

 

Czarina’s Lesson: There are limits to equality and fairness where money is the primary concern.

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Chin Up, Dear!

Personal image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 9 of 31- Chin Up, Dear!

From my teens and through my early twenties, I had this dream to become a model. When you live in NY, you don’t just sit on that dream you get on a train and hit the concrete jungle to make it happen. It was a grind that I loved. Between going to school and working I was combing the web for auditions whether they were for dance or modeling open calls. I went a long time without representation and that is its own bag of tricks. For those of you who have either danced, modeled or acted you know it involves a rollercoaster of emotions. You go from being really excited one moment to having that lump in your throat right before you get called to do your thing. Then there’s the aftermath. This is the affect of your ruminations about how you did on the audition; peppered with the comments and facial expressions made by the casting team.

Having been in the industry at a time,  the one thing I can tell you is that you have to have really thick skin. It is a very connected, clique-y profession. As a newbie, I was fresh meat and vulnerable to any criticism they wanted to make. You knew which girls had an established rapport. They didn’t even need their portfolio- it was “kiss-kiss and hug-hug and oh we missed you the other night at X lounge in Soho and they got the gig”. The one casting director that sticks out in my mind is a guy who was launching an urban brand. He was coming up on the heels of the urban fashion movement of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He suggested that I get a nose job and consider getting veneers to close up the gap between my teeth. I was forthright in telling him I would do none of the above, but the more time I spent in the industry hearing similar suggestions it began to wear on me. Momentarily, you start thinking should I get the nose job or the veneers? The pressures to look a certain way wear on you with time, if you don’t check it.

Photo courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

The last straw was when I went to a dance/model audition for a notable rap artist who shall remain nameless. The director called me up after the audition to offer me the part in the video along with parts in upcoming videos he was directing with the likes of Alicia Keys and other artists. The one condition he had was I had to go out with him and his friend to drinks and do things I will leave to your imagination. That conversation ended with me telling him: “I am in college, I have a future, a boyfriend, and never call me again”. He got my drift and by some act of God I made it to the final string of auditions for the video. The artist got himself in a jam so we never got to formally shot the video. The artist also tried his hand with me and I had to set him straight as well.

Modeling was fun, but it was the first time in my life that I truly had to learn to live with rejection, being scrutinized and having to defend my standards and worth. It was a lot to deal with at the time, but I have been really thankful for the experience the past few years. When I’ve had to face rejection in the workplace or have been under scrutiny in a job; I always remember my modeling days and suddenly the situation doesn’t hold as much weight. I just tell myself “chin up, dear” you got this. Every time you show up to start a new job, project or make a life change it is like an audition. It could go really well or you could fail. Either way, the only thing that is sure in that moment is you showing up and doing what is needed. The rest is out of your hands. I also learned that you are nothing in this world if you don’t have a standards or values. I could have caved and acquiesced the director’s request and went on to do some huge projects that could have catapulted my modeling career, but at what cost- my dignity, worth, future husband (who was my then boyfriend)?

I walked away from modeling with my head held high and no regrets. I ultimately knew I had great things in store for me as a college student and professional. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy striking-a-pose once in a while, but modeling now serves as a distant memory and a lesson of fashionably sashaying away from things in life that compromise your worth.

 

Czarina’s Lesson: Everything in life is connected. It’s up to you to make the connections and recognize the lessons. 

“Out of Her Comfort Zone”-The London Sessions: Mary J. Blige Album Review

FTC Disclosure: I participated in the Mary J Blige: The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

Reader Comment Disclaimer: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Even on Mary J Blige’s 13th studio album she is pushing herself outside of her comfort zone. With everything that I have done this year, this concept of remaining in a state of both professional and personal discomfort resonates with me. Mary was asked 20 questions that led to 20 fun facts for her album launch. My favorite question was: “when was the last time that she felt nervous?” her answer: this morning. Nothing is gained by dancing through life to the beat of the status quo. “The London Sessions” is proof that great things can be achieved when you remove yourself from your comfort zone.

Influenced by the late, Amy Winehouse, Sam Smith, Adele and young talent such as Disclosure, Mary recorded this album in 3 weeks and didn’t miss a beat in the process. The overall feel of the album is soulful, honest, and musically pure. If you’re looking for her usual hardcore Hip-Hop beats this isn’t the album for you. From the first track “Therapy” (co-written by Sam Smith); you get a strong tune with a jazz background that draws you into the album narrative immediately. You certainly fall in love with the range of Mary’s voice all over again. “Therapy” is an evolution from “No More Drama” of 2002 where the message is why be unhappy or bitter when there’s a place you can go heal. Whether it is meant for you to literally go to therapy or figuratively for you to go wherever you find healing- it is a great song.

Mary packs more power in this album with “Not Loving You” recorded with Sam Smith. The strength of this song is the lyrics: “There’s only so much I can do, if you’re not loving you”. This is another song that shows growth and a healed Mary from her earlier music that mirrored her pain and real-life struggles.

Now let’s get to my favorites…

If you are like me and you like to dance, “Right Now” is the jam. It is urban meets melodic synth house beat. Plainly, the beat is hypnotic. If you dance, it will get you dancing. If you’re kind of a background guy or gal, it will certainly make you nod your head. I love this song and have had it on repeat. It’s grown and sexy and what I think Mary fans have been waiting for. “Pick Me Up” is simply whimsical. The lyrics are all about what it is to struggle while wanting to be whisked away to somewhere beautiful to escape it all. It’s a feel-good song that had me smiling the whole time.

“Whole Damn Year” is another track that I adore. When you’ve played an instrument like I have, you tend to hear instrumentals before vocals. This song has a beautiful piano melody with subtle kicks and snares that give it almost a soft rock feel. The song was written by Emeli Sande and talks about the struggle of self-love and trusting when your trust has been tarnished by someone you love. Mary brings her usual depth and soulfulness to this song. You will feel her and her message by the end of the song.

I rarely buy whole albums anymore, unless it speaks to me musically. I am a fan of Mary since “What’s the 411” in 92′. This album feels like Mary and I have evolved together. We started out as kids in baggy jeans with our hats backwards and now we’ve struggled, grown and know a lot more about life. We haven’t lost that urban edge on this album but we’ve evolved into something more sophisticated, wiser and eclectic.

“The London Sessions” is a beautiful journey and I’m urging you to come along with me on it. The album will be available for sale on December 2nd. You can pre-order a digital copy here. Since it is the holidays, why not share the beauty of music with your loved ones. The album will also be available for sale on:

Since we’re a social community here at “The Aristocracy of HR”, here are some links to her social profiles. If you’re a fan like me, you will enjoy her Facebook page and website where you can unlock exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from the album.

This may be an HR blog, but one thing we can agree on is that we HR types love good music. I hope you will love it as much as I do. Check out the official video for my favorite, “Right Now” below. Let’s keep the momentum going on the following hashtags: #TheLondonSessions #HRMusicShare #hrjams

I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

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