I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” –Oprah
Carly Rae Jepsen.
All of these three individuals had the great honor of going viral. You may remember James Wright from his viral video review of Patti Labelle’s delicious “Pattie Pie.” There’s a chance you may not know the name, Candace Payne but I’m sure if we discussed the Chewbacca Mom you would know exactly what video I was referring to on Facebook. On June 23, 2012, Carly Rae Jepsen secured the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with one of my favorite songs, “Call Me Maybe.” Every one of the names I just mentioned were hot at one point. Unfortunately, we seldom hear of these individuals today although they have each enjoyed viral success.
Last night I watched an interview with Issa Rae. In the segment, Issa was being interviewed by Roland Martin, and they discussed the idea of timing.
“It wasn’t my first network deal. It wasn’t my first web series that popped off before the network deal…” She stated.
I had no idea that Issa Rae had projects before Insecure and even before her web series, Awkward Black Girl. After doing some digging, I found that Issa had been producing scripts and plays since she was a young girl watching Moesha. The talent and success of Issa that we all are witnessing is a manifestation of her years of grinding as a child with a dream.
During her come up, we never heard of Issa having a viral video or experiencing trendy success. Today, Insecure is looking towards its third season as a critical smash on HBO. Issa is enjoying real success. Her success is one that I would accredit to her craft. Issa has apparently been working on her craft as an artist for years. After learning her story, there are three big takeaways I think all artists and creatives could learn.
Success Is A Journey
In today’s world of viral videos and what is deemed to be instant success, everyone wants to be successful quick. We all look to create that viral video, smash hit song or New York Times Best Seller on the first try. What I have come to understand is that artists that are celebrated over time take a while before they get there.
Beyoncé started singing at nine years old; she didn’t win her first Grammy until she was 19.
Rihanna didn’t become the iconic, A-list star we know today until her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad.
J.K. Rowling didn’t get her first manuscript published until after she received over 12 denials from publishers.
Issa Rae is a powerhouse force of creative brilliance. Ironically we are just now seeing her work acknowledged on a national level although she had been creating for years.
Craft Is Important
Issa said that when she was a young girl, she attempted to write a spec script for one of her favorite shows, Moesha. After she received feedback that her work needed improvement, she got to work. For years Issa spent time reading more, creating more and getting better. Eventually, when her work got better, she built an audience, and that audience lead her to become the Executive Producer of Insecure.
Imagine if Issa would have stopped at her Moesha spec script and never kept perfecting her craft, she probably wouldn’t be the star she is today.
As creatives if we want substantive work it is imperative that we continue to get better. We have to keep grinding, work on ourselves and do the legwork that will prepare us for the stage of our dreams. There are no shortcuts or substitute for working on your craft. It is a process that you can either sign up for or not.
There’s No Such Thing As A Missed Opportunity
When Issa discussed timing, she expressed how she had a deal with ABC. Unfortunately, the deal fell through. Luckily because the way life works, HBO took what Issa had already worked on and gave her a shot.
One of my mantras I continuously tell myself is, “Your life is unfolding in God’s perfect timing.” That mantra that I have drawn up is rooted in the bible verse, Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
Frequently we as creatives feel like we may have missed the boat or that an opportunity has slipped from our hands. I’ve come to understand that there is no boat, we are the boats and life keeps our ships on the course it intended us to follow.
So if you did miss the casting for your favorite show, it is okay.
If you missed Mark Cuban at the coffee shop up the block, it is okay.
If for some reason you got sick and missed the career fair of your dreams it is okay.
Your life is unfolding in God’s perfect timing. There are no missed opportunities only learned lessons.
As a creative, I hope I never experience viral or trendy success. I want to have substantive work like Issa Rae. In the interim, I plan to continue to work on getting better as a storyteller. I will work on my craft and move through life on my God-directed path. I hope that after reading this article, you do the same.
Thank you, Issa Rae, for reiterating these messages with your life’s journey.
To check out the interview that lead me to these epiphanies click, HERE.
To learn more about Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure click HERE.
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