Giving Up Isn't a Mofo'n Option

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

*tip toes in* Hi Mofo Friends!

Yeah I know we are well into 2018 and this is the first time I've fixed my fingers to type anything over here. Hey, I'm a busy woman and since I got grown and quit the full time gig a few months ago, I have to hustle hard for my coins.

Which reminds me of something, a friend of mine asked at what point do you give up on a dream? Then a Twitter follower asked me to share something.

What's that Meik?

I'm glad you asked.

The answer to the first question is NEVER.

Let me explain. Forgive me ahead of time, this is a long post.

At the age of 5 I knew I wanted to be a cheerleader thanks to my parents buying me a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader costume-- I didn't know what the hell a cheerleader did but I wanted to do it. Then in first grade some of my friends mentioned cheerleading tryouts--well from that point on--I chased my dream. I was going to be a cheerleader despite the fact I didn't know what they did except wear cute outfits and yell. I studied cheerleading, I lived, breathed, and damn near did everything that revolved around it because my next goal was to cheer in middle and high school. I did that. I achieved those goals. Why? I never gave up. Even in 7th grade when I didn't make it-- I still busted my ass over the summer to get my jumps higher, my motions sharper, and become the best cheerleader I knew how to be.

My body hates me for it now, ankles shot to hell, knees just angry, wrists hurt for no reason at all, and well.. I had fun.

Next dream-- I wanted to be an entertainment reporter--no scratch that..first I wanted to be on television interviewing artists like Don Cornelius, Arsenio Hall, Donnie Simpson, and Sherry Carter (don't act like y'all don't remember Sherry!).

I wanted to be just like Oprah but hosting a dance show or having a couch where Ralph Tresvant would come and gaze into my eyes or Al B. Sure! would show up and answer all my deepest questions and then realize he loves me and whisk me off in all his acid washed denim glory.

I knew I loved to write--I had a creative crazy mind. If you were in my 9th grade English class then you probably remember my AMAZING script that I wrote as a spinoff of Romeo and Juliet. Ramon and Jalessa was my best work--and to think of acting out the script with Barbie Dolls. Yeah. I have a WILD arse imagination. Of course this was met with blank stares. But hey, they didn't get me.

But I went to college with a dream-- I wanted to be an entertainment reporter. In a way, I did it in college--interviewing Case when he came for our homecoming, doing 2 min of entertainment stories for our 5pm campus news, and eventually hosting my own show on our campus channel that had absolutely NOTHING to do with entertainment news but more entertaining mess. Welllllllllllll shit happens. I fell in love-- my uncle hooked me up with a job at a local TV News station, and that dream got altered. I decided I wanted to learn the news biz--because then that would ultimately take me to my dream right?

Yeah.. still didn't happen. It took me to more jobs that seemed to get me further and further away from my dream. I never really gave it up..but it got altered.

The twitter peep asked me how I got to where I am without an internship. Good question.

I got my first TV job my junior year in college--so what's an internship? LOL I was a production assistant making $6.50 an hour and working thru the 6pm news.. running to class and coming back in time to prep for the 11pm news all while trying to be a good bae and Soror. This prob explains why I love being busy now but anyway, I basically made it my business to learn how to do everything in the newsroom. I shadowed reporters on my days off, I asked producers if I could write stories, come in early and learn how to produce, I learned how to edit, shoot, EVERYTHANG. Still, that reporting job never happened, but what did happen is the opportunity to produce.

Next up I left the TV station for a couple of other odd jobs, but ended up moving to Charlotte after graduation and well.. ended up in another news gig--even further away from my dream. But bills had to be paid, so I kept pushing. Eventually after 2 years I ended up back at the station I started at working as an associate producer making $19k and going to grad school. As an associate producer I was supposed to just assist with the 6pm and 11pm newscasts but the weekend producer got promoted and guess who slid into doing those newscasts on the weekends? Me! It was fun for about 5 seconds, and being broke was not part of this dream. However grad school got interesting--I signed up for a class on making documentaries. Finally a class I can unleash my creativity in! Long story short I still think my group's project on The Underground Railroad Through East Tennessee was an amazing one --that ain't the right title but you get the point.. the creativity we were able to put into that project was the kick in the pants that I needed.

So I started sending out resume reels --even applied as a home shopping host where they told me I spoke "too Broadcast News and proper instead of like a friend in your neighborhood." I was crushed. I had worked hard to get rid of my country mountain accent and that's how they did me?! I remember not leaving my bed for days crying and feeling like a failure.

But I shook it it off and realized that wasn't for me and I kept pushing. I eventually moved back to Charlotte, started blogging on Yahoo 360 thanks to some heartbreak and it opened a door for me.

I realized people actually were reading and liking what I had to say. I was writing about the trials and tribulations of dating and folks could relate. In 2007 I got the brilliant idea to go on a reality show-- and that's about as close to entertainment as I had gotten, but the brief brush with fame scared the ish out of me. I think I prefer to stay hidden--or do I?

The dream persisted. I still wanted to be an entertainment reporter, correspondent, host SOMETHING... but HOW?

Once my blogging made its way to MySpace and eventually I started this blog, still trying to find MY voice-- then a local pub came calling looking for bloggers to write for free in exchange for exposure. I did it. That's prob the only "internship" I did. I asked a couple of local websites if I could write entertainment type of stories for know practice on their ish and not mine in case if fails LOL --

The first story I got paid for was a story on Dealz Jackson- Jackie Jackson's son for Creative Loafing--best $50 I ever made! I worked for free on an online show as an entertainment correspondent and I swear I loved every minute of that even though it didn't last long but it was material for my reel.

Meanwhile I was still working full time as a news producer back in Charlotte. In my down time, I took my talents to and really learned how to research, write, and interview. I found my niche and my voice during the 5 1/2 years I wrote for the site. I nurtured relationships and networked my arse off and finally I felt like an entertainment reporter especially on red carpets getting elbowed in the ribs while trying to get interviews. I knew one thing and that was I would be respected. You hear so many stories about folks sleeping with folks for interviews.. not here. I don't give a damn who you are ..well... if Idris Elba insists..

Anyway, I started writing for Uptown Magazine, and eventually Once the ride on Soul Train ended, I had two choices-- panic or find a replacement outlet ASAP. ended and three days later I had pitched my way into a steady contributing gig with Jet Magazine. I used what I knew-- old school music and I dragged Tevin Campbell out from under the rock he was hiding under just as I had done years before and the ball was rolling. I was also writing again for some local pubs from time to time, blogging here, and writing for Sheen Magazine-- my goal: to be published. I did that. Then I wrote for Ebony Mag-- published. Did that. I kept stacking my writing portfolio--pitching without fear-- I hit up Vanity Fair-- got a piece published, and eventually the Ebony/Jet space dried up without warning and I was left wondering what next? I can't sit idle too long and I have a dream to keep pushing towards right? I headed over to Essence Mag. I missed writing about music so I reached out to the National Museum of African American Music and pitched myself into a contributing blogger role. Eventually I started writing for several other sites. Whew, I should be tired right?

I felt like I had finally reached my dream in an altered kind of way the moment I saw MY NAME.. MY BYLINE on Entertainment Tonight's website. I literally sat here and ugly cried. It took YEARS to get to this point. To have the editor tell me how good the interview was.. I just slid to the floor and sobbed. To have the editor reach out to ME to do interviews. I couldn't believe it! Then to later see MY NAME.. MY BYLINE on Shondaland's website--yes Shondaland that belongs to THE Shonda Rhimes, I really felt like I was getting somewhere!

Yeah it's frustrating when it feels like folks aren't reading your work or appreciating your hard work that goes into putting all the pieces together for a final product. But the most rewarding part for me is when the person that I'm interviewing NOTICES that I took the time to research them and that I took the time to come up with questions they haven't answered 100000001 times. My favorite interviews are ones that end with "I enjoyed talking to you, thank you for asking thoughtful questions." That is why I do this. I want to tell their stories--the stories we haven't heard or the angles you may not have thought about.

While I'm not on television being the entertainment reporter on E! or hosting a show on TV One (YET! Hell I'm claiming it still!) I have achieved some of my dream-- and that's enough to keep me pushing to achieve the entire dream.

So I say allllllllllllllllllllllll this long drawn out story to say-- just because you didn't do an internship doesn't mean you don't take your life experiences and your own drive to learn how to do ish, and just because you can't break into your dream job the way you planned, you kick the damn door in some other way. An outlet that I had applied to and pitched countless times before read my essay on Shondaland and came calling; you put in the work, folks will notice. I'm also a co-host of a web series called Date Sheet. Look at that!

Now, let me get back to my writers block and figuring out how to crank out some more pitches to help me reach my goal of interviewing Oprah in the year of 2018.

Lesson Learned: Don't give up. Adjust your dream if you have to, but NEVER GIVE UP. In the words of the great Uncle Luke:

Now lemme see if I can apply this to my personal life and relationships LOL.

Until later-- (and I swear I won't let this drag out as long again! I'll return to the blog soon!)

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