How to Become a Mogul, Volume I
On Thursday September 13, 2018 Hollywood Life, She Runs It, & Forbes Presented the 3rd Annual GenNext Awards, which honored inspirational young women in the entertainment, marketing and media industries who have proven themselves to be the next generation of leaders and who have made noteworthy accomplishments in their respective careers.
It goes without saying that being honored at the GenNext awards can only be the result of hard work, dedication, discipline, long nights, early mornings, and little sleep in between. All combined with a healthy dose of “believing in yourself”. But what does that time-honored adage mean, exactly?
We had a chance to catch up with some of the GenEX honorees and as it turns out, the answer to that question is just as varied, and inspirational, as the young women being honored for their noteworthy careers.
“I think the thing that most people should keep in mind when choosing acting as a profession is that figuring out who you are is 95% of the battle. Knowing who you are, what you are about, knowing how to walk into a room, and just knowing how to be [yourself] fully, at all times” says acclaimed actress Kayli Carter (Nice Fish, Godless, Private Life, Mary Page Marlowe, Bad Education). Kayli also credits her parents, who are both proud feminists, for giving her the tools she needed to figure out who she was. “I was lucky to have parents who were always pushing me as a girl, and then as a woman, to take up space, and say what I wanted and not be afraid of the repercussions that would come from that.
Tony nominated actress Phillipa Soo also credits her family as being an amazing support system in her journey to believing in herself. Crediting her family, mentors, and friends with embracing her pursuit of dreams. “I think one of the most valuable things I learned was you cannot be afraid of failure, and failure is not a bad, it’s a good thing. You can learn from your mistakes, you can really embrace it, embrace the fear into launching into the unknown”. Soo, best known for her work playing Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton laments “as an artist, some of the best advice I was ever given was to see an experience as much as possible. Think about not just what you love to do, but what you want to do, and what is the message that you are trying to communicate. Continue to try on different hats, whether that means being onstage or offstage, writing, even going to an art museum. Just find things in this world that are outside of your perception or comfort zone. Find these things, and use them to inspire you, and motivate you.”
Ashley Nicole Black, writer and correspondent for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, believes finding the courage to listen to your own voice is fundamental to success. “I was afraid of pursuing a career in entertainment because I knew it was going to be hard so I kind of chickened out. I went to grad school instead”. Black, who is now a comedian, actress, and writer, once studied to be a professor of performance studies. “I was teaching people to do what I really wanted to be doing. So, I just started going to Second City in the evenings and the weekends and doing sketch comedy. I loved it so much that I eventually got to that point where I said to myself, even if this is the harder path, I love it and its for me. But then the second I made that decision, doors started opening. I was living in my truth and everything got easier”. As Black astutely pointed out “No one can stop you but you. Other people can make it harder for you. They can tell you “you’re not good” “people like you don’t get to do this” and that definitely makes it harder. But the only thing that can stop you, is if you decide to stop yourself.”
Tiler Peck, principal dancer with the NYC Ballet sees believing in yourself as dreaming big. “I always say you never know what the universe can do for you until you put it out there, so I always think you really have to dream big. Peck who also stars in the Hulu series BalletNOW which follows her during her time directing the BalletNOW series at The Music Center in Los Angeles last July. Peck says she felt that needed a push to dream big and make the move from performing to directing. “I always thought I would be good at directing but I needed somebody to believe in me and give me the opportunity to prove myself. And that’s what the Los Angeles center and Rachal Moore did. “I mean, here I am from Bakersfield, California, and I made it to the big apple, and now I’m principal dancer”. Peck laments that really loving something is the key to believing in yourself. “A ballerina’s life is very difficult. But I honestly couldn’t imagine my day without dance. If you really love something don’t sell yourself short. Dream big and see where it goes.”
Mandi Masden, acclaimed actress and leading cast member in the Broadway Production Saint Joan puts the work center in her belief in self. “I always want to do good work, regardless where it ends. But your goal can’t just be an accolade. My mentor once told me if you’re goal is to be dedicated to the work, dedicated to the storytelling regardless of where it ends, then your dream keeps growing, and will last a lifetime”. Masden who hails from Wyoming is no stranger to work. She graduated as a triple major in English, Theatre, and American studies. She then accepted into a master’s program in English Literature, while being simultaneously waitlisted into a PHD program. However, waiting for her financial aid package to be approved, Mandi auditioned, and was accepted into an acting school on full scholarship. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I love Broadway, and it allows me to grow and evolve, and constantly focus on the work of creating.”
Keynote Speaker Seema Bansal, co-founder of Venus Et Fluer, and creator of the eternity rose, feels its easy to let fear and doubt get the best of you. But the key to believing in yourself is to think positive. “For instance, prior to creating the eternity rose, when we first started shipping our flowers, I constantly kept thinking ‘this is going to work’ even though all of our shipments were coming back damaged. But I refused to think about the negative aspects because your thinking affects so much. Think of the outcome you want stop thinking about the negative setbacks. When you think positive things work out even better than expected”. Bansal, a serial entrepreneur, also stresses the need to focus on only one thing at a time. “I think its really good to know you can’t do everything at one time, so hire really great people”. Bansel, who is set to wed her co-founder in three months, might be onto something because Venus Et Fluer just announced that the company is going global this year. Needless to say things are really coming up roses!
So there you have it, believe in yourself, work hard, rinse and repeat. A definitive step by step guide to becoming a mogul. Courtesy of the 2018 Hollywood Life, She Runs It, & Forbes 3rd Annual GenNext Awards. Watch this space in 2019 for Volume II