“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” – Unknown
The who and the when aren’t as important as the ‘what’ that I am about to share with you. I am a writer who also does freelancing acting and modeling assignments in Las Vegas. Some of those gigs are films, commercials, print ads, hosting, special events, trade shows and promotions. I am an independent contractor. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. There is no sick pay. Yet this is the life I have chosen temporarily as I finish my second degree in Psychology and perhaps go on to my third. This lifestyle has been a psychology experiment and given me ample writing material since moving here from Nebraska. I’m grateful for the opportunities, the people, and the experiences; even the unpleasant ones that helped me grow.
A few months ago I even was placed on my first billboard in Las Vegas for ‘Gallery Nightclub’ at Planet Hollywood. When I am in my car alone and drive passed my billboard, I wave and tell her, “See, I told you. Hope you’re not afraid of heights.” I can’t express it enough. I am SUPER GRATEFUL!
There are a few downsides to this business however. Work may not always be consistent. You have to make sacrifices when it is not and choose which assignments to accept with wisdom. Everyone isn’t friendly and sincere. Everyone won’t like you or give a genuine shit what you’re going through when the camera is off. I do though. Because beyond the glitz, glam, and fantasy that the entertainment industry creates, I have lived a real life. I have struggled. Am I glamorizing the struggle? No. I’m simply stating that this is what is realistic for me and I am grateful to do what I do from once not knowing how rent would be paid for my son and I in Nebraska. It gets better but it is a process and you have to learn when to bite your tongue, swallow your pride, and know that people are going to judge you simply based on their own limited experiences.
My spirit was almost broken a few weeks ago. I was on an assignment and knew ahead of time that the wardrobe stylist was not a ‘fan’ for whatever reason. The day of the costume fitting we were told to bring 5 day time attire outfits, 5 night attire outfits, and 5 bikinis. I did what I was told and brought what I had. The wardrobe stylist and the client are the ones that decide what will be worn for the commercial. Upon looking at my wardrobe, the stylist made a lot of comments with snide disgust such as “This is all you have.” I may not have the best of everything, but I think I have some pretty rad clothing that I’m grateful I was able to afford. The client finally chose 4 of my outfits and I was pleased. The client even said my shoes were fine which were a pair of black heels and spartan sandals. The client was professional and friendly.
The day of the shoot arrives. I was stoked and feeling blessed to have been chosen as a Principal for the commercial which means more Face-time and more Pay. Being Black American and brown skinned, it does not happen as often as I would like in Las Vegas. Look at the ads. I’ll wait.
It comes time to change into one of the last outfits and though they were already chosen ahead of time, the wardrobe stylist called me over to look at my shoes. I showed her what was already chosen the day of the fitting. She smiles in disgust and yells at me in front of everyone, “You’ve been doing this too long for this to be all you have. I’m losing my patience with you Khalilah.” She made a few more comments but my vision went hued with anger because this was not her first time choosing to single me out.
I have worked with this woman on other occasions where I defended her when people called her mean and hard to work with. I wasn’t hired for the wardrobe that I have in my closet. I was hired because I have the look that the client wanted, I am on time, and do my job 100 % whatever that job may be. I was floored that she reacted to me this way, unaware of my situation, but apparently to her knowledge, I have tons of money to spend on clothes that may or may not be chosen for a shoot that I may or may not be chosen for. NO.
The truth is, unfortunately, I don’t book a lot of these commercials where they want lavish wardrobes. I only own 5 bikinis after a bag full of some former ones was stolen a few months ago. I cannot afford to buy clothes that I am not going to wear. It was her job to provide where the model(s) lacked as the wardrobe stylist. To be professional, I bit my tongue, apologized, and walked away. I was eaten up inside for the remainder of the shoot. I don’t do well with mean people.
My son was about to board an airplane and I was unable to be with him because I was booked on the day that he was leaving and needed the income to provide for us both.
I wish I could have handled things differently. I would have told her, “I apologize that my wardrobe is not up to your standard. But the client chose me. You did not. I followed instructions and brought everything I was asked to. You don’t know my situation or anyone’s in here to judge and speak so crass. I don’t deserve that. No one does. I always treat my work and those around me with respect. Humble yourself.” I wish I would have stood up for myself that day. But I was so angry that I feared my words would come out the wrong way. I didn’t want to upset the client by screaming at the stylist so I stayed quiet. I could have respectfully stood up for myself. But on this day… I didn’t. I regret that.
In short, my experiences have made me who I am. I am grateful for them as they continue and will press on when difficult people and situations attempt to break my spirit. The same goes for those people. Their experiences have shaped them. I forgive. But I PRAY if I see her again, better words are chosen.
You don’t know anyone’s situation because of a few Facebook posts, pictures, and tweets. People out here are living REAL LIVES and real hardships that they may never tell you.
Some of the warmest smiles are hiding the coldest heartaches. Be careful before you judge a book by it’s cover… Be Kind.
I wrote this to share the experience I learned from. I could have handled it better and still maintained my dignity.
Instead of saying things happen TO us, I believe that things happen FOR us. The change of words in that sentence takes an experience to a positive place once it has finished.
NEVER LET ANYONE break your spirit or trick you into thinking you’re not worthy. You are. Don’t give up!
The experiences we learn from don’t necessarily have to be our own. Hopefully this touched someone.