How much do you think you're really worth? Not what you say you think you're worth, but what do your actions say about what you believe you're worth?
So, I wanna talk to all the black women out there who have written to me, taken my free classes, recordings and what not and constantly engage, but never invest in themselves and take a class.
1. you can't afford it
2. you don't have time
3. you don't have money
4. you don't believe it can change anything in your life
Let's look at some of these reasons and question whether or not this is the truth or whether or not, you're just giving away too much for too little.
1. You can't afford it.
You can afford to buy hair products, specialty dietary items, gel mani/pedis, extensions, weaves, takeout, movie, play, concert tix but you can't afford to invest in something that will ultimately help YOU make the living your deserve?
You have money to subscribe to magazines, extra on demand channels, facebook, instagram, twitter personal opinions about the lack of opportunity for POC and women in the industry, but you don't have time to create a platform for yourself in the industry that would get you paid?
There something else at play here...let's figure out what it is exactly.
2. You don't have time.
You have time to do workshops, readings, panel discussions for FREE giving away countless precious hours of your time _(time you could be using to earn money by charging clients what you're worth)_, but you can't afford to hire a life, business, writing coach to help you produce a project that will pay you as writer, actor and producer?
You can afford to volunteer at your church, youth group, mentor little black girls, but you can't afford to focus on investing in strengthhening your skill set into something that earns you the kind of money you can pass onto your children?
Black women (black folks) have lots of opinions and we love taking to the pulpit, the stage, utube, facebook and giving out advice for free that we never get back because we feel it's part of our uplift to take care of the next generation by giving them free advice and mentoring.
FREE shit usually doesn't have a real process behind it to fix the problem and FREE shit is rarely valued.
When's the last time someone won an award or bought a house working for FREE...?
So, serving other peoples' needs (in a half assed way cuz its free), that's more important than learning how to create intergenerational wealth and build institutions that will sustain you and yours for the next 10 generations?
Just a question.
3. You don't have money
What would happen if you took all that time you were giving away free advice and free acting, writing and teaching and used that time to make money?
4. you don't believe investing in learning something new can change your life
Let's continue to paint a picture of what I'm seeing right now and then look at concrete ways to reframe what you believe is possible.
A lot of exhausted moms, actresses, coaches, business women, actors volunteering a lot and doing a lot of free advice giving and getting nothing back.
The oral tradition is great, but he who writes down history are the civilization builders and the race of people who not only survive, but thrive and create wealth.
Everyone else disappears into poverty and struggle.
A footnote in the mass suffering throughout history.
And here's the recipe for that:
**1. The biggest ingredient is guilt**
**2. The second biggest ingredient is being exhausted and giving away all of yourself as a way of proving to yourself that you have value and purpose.**
**3. The expectation that no one is willing to care for you the way you care for others.**
If any of the above 3 ingredients are in the crock pot of your life right now, keep reading.
We are very driven out of habit to work tirelessly for others passing on our limited knowledge and ways of doing things that have been handed down to us for generations without ever taking time to invest in learning new ways to work smarter, not harder.
Instead, we prefer self-sacrifice without personal development which is all about this idea of being the long suffering super woman who must always be tired, exhausted and underpaid in order to be worthy.
Am I getting warmer?
I know all about this, because I've spent a lifetime doing it.
**- What would happen if you did something completely for you?**
**- What would happen if you figured out that your time is money and therefore your time is your wealth?**
**- What would happen if everytime someone asked you for your time, you asked them to pay you what your time was worth?**
What's My Time Worth Budget
I spent 4 years in undergrad that cost $250,000.
Then I spent 3 years in Grad school which cost $175,000.
Then I spent another 6 years hiring coaches and working in the theatre for less than unemployment doing workshops,readings for free, etc. to the tune of $60K
Let's put a pricetag on all that sacrifice:
Let's say, I've spent a good $500,000. Let's include inflation and interest and make it a cool ONE MILLION DOLLARS learning what I've had to learn that allows me to teach others.
Let's say that in order to earn that 1 million dollars back,
- I need to be charging folks at least $500 per hour for my time at about 20 hours per week.
-The other 20 hours would be freed up for me to write, build and create work that its in line with my ultimate life plan from writing screenplays to building a profit making think tanks for african women business owners, to writing books, screenplays and plays about my ancestral journey from west africa, the gulllah, cuban and bahamian islands.
If I charged $500/hour working 20 hours per week teaching people and had 20 free hours to create:
1. At the end of 2 years, I would have made back the $1million dollars I spent on my education.
2. Created stories (books, films, plays) that would have paid my bills, earned me producer points and residuals to last me the rest of my life.
That's if I really believed my time was worth $500 per hour.
But what I see happening with my clients as I follow them on FB, Instagram, their newsletters is the following:
I see you running around frazzled charging people $60/80, $100 to teach their clients and mentees information that it took them decades and thousands of dollars to learn and they're never making that money back.
How many $60 sessions you got to teach to pay your bills, plus your debt and still have time to rest, save money, vacation and live your life?
But you are exhausted.
And your clients are breaking into TV & Film and getting record and tv deals earning them millions of dollars after they paid you about $200 bucks to learn what you had to give.
THEIR TIME and money is earning them a living.
YOUR TIME is earning you a whole bunch of exhaustion, the label of "super black woman", high blood pressure, lack of joy and no time invested in you and your dreams.
**How is that paradigm working out for you?**
**Does that paradigm even make sense?**
**What would happen if you just stopped and said **
**To any and everything not paying you what you're worth?**
**What if you only said **
**to things that celebrated you?**
And by celebrate, I mean, each and every person that sent you an email asking you a question or stopping you after class to ask you a question, what if you required a $500 fee before you stopped to answer that question or give them a coffee meeting, or $500 before you agreed to that panel discussion or podcast or workshop.
What if you actually got paid what you were worth?
Oh, I hear the explanations that sound dangerously like fear:
- Oh, I'm working for FREE to make connections, to gain experience.
How long has that been going on and what kind of money has it made you?
Are you still struggling to make ends meet?
So, here's the thing I'm learning the hard way:
Learn how to stabilize yourself before you give away any of yourself for FREE
Another dangerous excuse for giving you away for free:
Nobody has that kind of money, we're starving artists, I can't charge people that?
Nobody is going to pay me that kind of money for what I know?
So, here's the thing about that:
If you think that and I can get info from you for free,
then guess what,
that's exactly what I'm going to do.
I'm going to pay you exactly what I think I can get from you and pocket the rest of the money for myself.
**Because I know my worth and if you put my needs above your own (and you don't even know me,) then that means I am more valuable because you don't see the value you have.**
A painful, but necessary truth.
Without this truth, there's no way to move forward and shift this "giving yourself away" paradigm.
You wanna learn a step by step process that gives you the language and the tools to ask for what you want?
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""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson