Taking Back Our Power: What Harvey Weinstein Can Teach Us About Opportunity
My guess is that when you read the title of this, your first thought was something like, "Learn from Harvey Weinstein?? Are you kidding me? What would I possibly want to learn from that guy?"
And maybe what I have to say about it comes a little too soon.
My Facebook newsfeed is dominated with "me too" messages of women, myself included, who have encountered some type of sexual assault or harassment in their lifetimes. And I bet yours is too. So this little switcharoo I'm about to pull may sound insensitive. . . but I believe it's a necessary step.
In the recent weeks, with all that has come to light in regards to mega-producer, Harvey Weinstein and the extensive amounts of claims of sexual abuse among actresses and women in the entertainment industry, I've been thinking a lot about the matter of control. . .
As in, Who is the decider who gets to control your success . . .? Who Has the POWER . . . ? Starting out as a young SAG actress getting into the business at age 12, eventually forging a career the world of dance and now as a professional inspirational coach and speaker I've often found myself in the position of seeking men's approval as the gatekeepers to the best jobs and the best opportunities.
And like most women, I've had my share of come ons and inferences that if I just become "close friends" with someone then I'll advance my career.
And I've found myself struggling to normalize the situation, "well this is basically just the road of an artist, right? This is just what happens in the industry. . . and if I don't play with the powerful bad guys then I won't get any of the good jobs."
Like so many of us, I believed that they (the powerful bad guys) had the power and that I had to do what they wanted in order to get the dream career that I wanted.
I disempowered myself by believing this very thing we are all taught to believe.
Less years ago than I'd like to admit, I was cornered in a dressing room after I came off stage from performing with a ten piece band made up of strong women-loving men who I felt totally safe around. They were like protective brothers and I would have never imagined something like this could have happened when they were near. But nevertheless, despite this band of "brothers," an audience member had snuck into the dressing room and cornered me. Through a combination of forceful wrestling and expertly squirming out of the man's grasp I was luckily able to escape being raped that night.
After the incident, I was lucky to have one of my "brothers" willing to go with me and confront the guy who tried to rape me. Let him know he wasn't welcome anymore. But even after that confrontation, things weren't settled really. Slowly this incident became like a disease, creating a rift between myself and the other dancers, creating unease and tension in the group. So shortly afterwards, I left that band and that scene. . . and from time to time, I hear that he's still in it . . . Because he's friends with many people in the scene, and I became the troublesome one and I'm the one who created uncomfortable silences with my presence in a room . . . I'll admit it. Leaving was easier than making a big stink about it and being shamed and the topic of gossip etc. etc. It was easier to just leave it all behind.
But I also left that scene because I've discovered over many years of re-creating myself, of forging new artistic careers, creating my own work, my own shows, my own platforms that . . .
The best way to change things is to BE things.
Mahatma Ghandi said it best,
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
There are a lot of powerful bad guys. It's tough to be in the film or music industry and not meet them. And there's certainly nothing wrong with wanting or going for some of those opportunities that present themselves via auditions or the traditional channels. . . but what if, in addition to going for other people's opportunities, you were also to starting to create your own opportunities?
Fires? shootings? Hurricanes and now Weinstein??? There's a lot in my life and yours, I'll bet, that can make you feel out of control and powerless.
So, I ask you to take these feelings - whatever you're feeling, because I know you have your own personal stew of past experiences - and find a way to
See past your fear and feelings of horror . . .
See past your feelings of overwhelm . . . such a big problem, what is there to do??
See past any shame you haven't yet surrendered . . .
So that, even if for just a moment, you can get a glimpse
Of your own
EMPOWERMENT. . .
(Lying there waiting for you like that water at the bottom of a well.)
And ask yourself this question:
If money wasn't an issue and I could do or create anything I wanted. . . What would I do?
Harvey Weinstein teaches us that there is a BIG CALL for a shift in power. Like Brene Brown recently said in regards to the Charlottesville protests, the old paradigm of power over another is. . . well over. It's time to join forces, empower each other and embrace having power with one another.
Which means you don't have to hand over your entire career or life to someone else who gets to decide whether or not you get to play.
There is a lot of empowerment in deciding to start your own project, create your own opportunities, or create a new game that is so powerful it shifts how everyone else around you plays the game as well. So what role would you like to play? Why don't you find a way to star in it now? What women are writing and producing things already? Or maybe seek out the directors and producers that are treating the women and the world with kindness. Why not see if you can join/learn from them? Because for all the loud Harvey Weinstein's in the world, there are also some kind, wonderful empowering people producing work as well. It is your choice to either join them or become one of them yourself.
Everything you see in the world, every show, every movie, every piece started out as someone's daydream once upon a time.
After the problem comes into the light then there is healing. And after that healing. . . there is a space to build something new.
Here's to your empowerment and to your daydreaming. BIG LOVE, Holly P.S. I know this particular topic can bring up a lot of strong feelings for people. If you have comments, I strongly urge you to join me in the Performers & Creators Lab Community Group on Facebook and start a discussion there. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share your insights and even your daydreams with a group of other professional creatives that have joined me in this Facebook group.
Holly Shaw is a Bestselling Author and Creativity Coach who has helped hundreds of performers and creators, including Grammy nominated and Emmy award winning artists, overcome stage fright, creative blocks, impostor syndrome, anxiety so that they can totally kill it onstage and create original work without feeling like they're selling out or losing their sanity.