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Pulling Others Up By Your Bootstraps: A Guide to Helping Sistahs

February 6, 2017

• Cheryl L. Bedford

 

Oprah.  Shonda.  Ava.  These are the names we all know. They are making strides to bring women and especially minority women to the foreground in the entertainment biz. And that’s a great thing.

But many of us lesser-known black women in the industry can help, too.

We have always been told to “wait our turn” or “wait until the timing is right.”  Fuck that.  The future is now -- yes a cliché, but accurate.  In the past, I have been asked (by previous employers), “Why is everyone you recommend black?”  And with the straightest of faces, I respond, “Why is everyone you recommend white?”  Crickets…

I think there is a tendency not to have “too” many or make the establishment feel uncomfortable … Fuck that:

1) Hire minorities every chance you get.  We always hear that people want the best person for the job, but when someone has systematically been kept out of a job, position or industry, you have to actively recruit them. You will be getting “the best person,” an unrewarded talent who lacked only “connections.” Decide to make a concerted effort to have more “flavor.”  It is good for your set and your company.

2) If you are questioned about hiring “too many," remind people of the stats.  For all the stories being told about white America, the same doesn’t hold true for the black experience, one that is just as universal.

3) Be a mentor.  Even if you aren’t in a position to hire someone, you can always advise.  Meet regularly.  No one is that busy.  I am busy as shit and still make time for those I mentor.  It isn’t just good for the mentees, trust me.

4) Put your money where your mouth is.  Donate to crowdfunding.  Find a project that speaks to you and donate.  Small amounts in large quantities make a difference.

5) Teach.  We have so many film/trade/tech schools.  Just by seeing your face walking the halls, students of all races, ethnicities and nationalities will be inspired.

6) Build your tribe. I hooked up with another awesome black woman, Sylvia Franklin, and she is writing “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami” based on the life of Bessie Stringfield.  I am producing.

7) Be you.  Just by being you, all of you, whether light or dark, relaxed or natural, conservative or funky, just you being who you are will inspire other young women of color.

8) Take on a project outside of your comfort zone.  I am shopping around a BDSM Generational Show about a well-known female dominant in Los Angeles and her family, “Mistress Mom.”  Shot the trailer and, FYI, “50 Shades” ain’t got nothing on the real thing.

9) Be fearless.  In the current political climate, this is harder than ever.  But we are the force.  We are the backbone.  We have been the leaders in every political movement.  

And if you need my help, tweet at me, email me through my website, or find me on Facebook.  (Info in my bio.)

To my Caucasian Contemporaries, when someone sees themselves in a younger person or someone they want to help, just remember the folks that may not “look” like you.  That has always been an obstacle in this business (or any business really).  Go beyond the surface.  Look creatively. You may have more in common than you think. Besides, seeing life through a different lens can give your artistic vision a needed jolt.

On a personal note…

A Black woman, Kim Scott, gave me a desperately needed job after my mother passed away.  My mom was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, a fighter having marched on Washington as a teenager and marched for a Woman’s Right to Choose as an adult. She made me who I am today.  After her death, I needed something to do, having resigned as Chair of Diversity.  I needed a place to heal.  I have met some extraordinary people of all genders and races since becoming the Production Manager for Awestruck, a part of Awesomeness TV.  Shout-out to my ATV Family!

This Blog is dedicated to My Mother, Joan T. Curtis, who passed away on February 12, 2016.  You will always be my biggest inspiration.  Love you for always and a day.

_________________________________________________________________

 

Read more by

Cheryl L. Bedford

Cheryl L. Bedford, a NAACP Image Award Nominee for “Dark Girls” and Baltimore native, holds a BFA from NYU’s TSOA and MFA in Producing from AFI. She is currently based in Los Angeles, CA. As a Production Manager, Line Producer, and Producer, Cheryl has worked on countless film/tv/digital projects, including over 15 Independent Features. Cheryl formed her own company, Cheryl L. Bedford Productions, in January of 2001. More recently, Ms. Bedford started CLBP Helps, her 501(c)3 Charity to help minorities, women and local charities.  In her spare time, she judges film festivals. Learn more about her on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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