Date: June 2014
“Seriously, I’ll refund you your money if you stay.” “Auntie, don’t go. You’re not going to miss anything.” “I can’t believe you won’t be here for the party.”
It was a hot and sticky Friday evening in June when I was preparing to depart for a one-day trip to New York City for an entertainment bootcamp. I really didn’t want to leave my family. I wanted to stay for my niece’s graduation cookout; and so did they. All of their pleading and emotions didn’t make the situation any better. As a matter of fact, I was the least bit excited to attend. I had an attitude and wanted to cry. I was feeling horrible and questioned my purpose for going anyway. “Did I really have to go? Was I’Yaunah right? Maybe I wasn’t going to miss anything. Should I just get my money back from Guy? What if it is a waste a time? Just stay. “
Instead of reacting by staying, I gave a fake smile and said my goodbyes. I was on my way to New York City, leaving my family and fun behind.
Flashback to October 2013:
“I’m tired of teaching. My school has sucked the dear life out of me. I think I may want to stay in education but work in the entertainment industry. After all, I did go to college initially for Theater but ended up with a degree in Public Relations.” I rambled to my girlfriends at Charisse’s Red Lips and Red Wine party. The girls agreed with me. They’ve seen my talent, experienced my creativity, and understood my passion for The Arts. Therefore, they all supported the notion of retiring from the classroom.
It had been 7 months since I had spoken to one of the girls about my exit plan. But all of that changed on a sunny day in May of 2014.
It was a lazy Sunday morning for me. I was in bed battling with the thought of going to church. I was trying to convince myself that I needed to take the day off to relax and play some gospel music to receive the word from the Lord. Although it sounded quite ridiculous and a poor excuse to miss church, it actually sounded like a good idea at the time. So, I laid there listening to Marvin Sapp’s “The Best in Me,” when my phone buzzed. It was a text message from Chyra, my college girlfriend from Charisse’s Red Lip and Red Wine party.
“Hey Carissa it’s Chyra. Call me when you get a chance.”
“Chyra?! What does she want? I haven’t spoken to her nor seen her since October. What’s going on? This is strange,” I thought and decided to call her right away.
Chyra wanted me to enter this essay contest for an opportunity to be sponsored for an entertainment bootcamp in New York City hosted by Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) for young women.
Then, Chyra briefly shared some information about one of the co-founders of the organization WEEN, Valeisha Butterfield. “Valiesha is a Clark Atlanta graduate that interned for Global Grind but worked her way up as the Executive Director of Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Actions Network. In addition, Valiesha served in the administration of President Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affair for International Trade.” As Chyra yapped on and on about Valiesha’s credentials, I was just thinking “Wow! Hell yeah, I’m doing it!”
But the last thing Chyra said had me against the fence about the whole thing, “Go to her Instagram page, read more, and submit your essay. I hope you win, Carissa.” “Thanks, Chyra! I’ll keep you posted with everything.”
“Hell nah!!!!!” I thought. I wasn’t about to write an essay begging for sponsorship on this lady’s page. I didn’t want the world reading my vulnerable message. I couldn’t understand why I had to publicly announce it, anyway.
Thankfully, I didn’t’ allow my ego to get in the way of the opportunity. A little voice in my head kept repeating, “ What if this is a message from God? Don’t block your blessing. Just do it, girl. You don’t have anything to lose.”
“Fuck it!” I thought. I sat up in bed. Picked up my phone and let my fingertips do the writing. I humbly expressed why I deserved to win a sponsorship for the bootcamp.
Although my words were pure and genuine, I knew they weren’t going to choose me. I had no experience in entertainment. I was a Teacher, not a professional entertainer.
But boy, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
To Be Continued….