Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Networking is to Lovemaking, as Relationships are to One-Night Stands

When asked, “What is networking”, many people will shout out, “Meeting people; getting contacts of people who might be helpful to my career,” or “Building alliances and gaining a greater access to support,” and while this is true…it’s only a small part of what networking really is.
Every moment is a networking opportunity. Whether at a social gathering, or on the Internet, you are always in a situation to meet and get to know new people, or learn something new about the people you already know. In every social environment people are talking, on and on, about what they do, who they know, where they are going, what they are in need of… the list goes on! But the latter of them all, is where I’d like to draw your attention to and hopefully get you to understand the true meaning of Networking and its art form.
Networking is not only about meeting as many people as you can, meeting the upper echelon of people, or meeting the right person who can get you where you need to be, but, it is about listening and fulfilling the needs of the people you meet. Yes, you heard me! Networking is about meeting, listening, and giving. And, is less about meeting and receiving. If you only consider the two definitions above, then this means you are a selfish net worker. And God only knows the effects selfishness can have on other aspects of your life!
I like to compare the art of networking to the art of lovemaking and mastering relationships. They are strangely very similar. I’m sure by now, most of you, if not all, are laughing at the comparison and probably think I am some out of her mind, freak! But there are truly a lot of comparisons between networking, relationships, and lovemaking. I list them below in two categories, DO's and DONT's.

The Do's and Dont's of Networking, Relationships and Lovemaking:
Make your self known
Listen to the other person while he/she is talking
Call or email the next day
Take your time getting to know
Date the other person first
Think Long-term
Stimulate other before getting what you want
Again, take your time
Satisfy and I guarantee you will be satisfied


Wait for the person to talk to you first, go after what you want
Stare outwardly while other person is talking; looking for the next person you could get to know
Forget to call or email within the next 72 hours
Rush getting to know
Call only when you want something from them
or say you will call and don't
Don’t only think about what you can get out of the deal
Don't get what you need; never to be heard of again
This is not a one night stand- don’t think of it like one. Consider courting this one.

When you meet a potential alliance, listen to what they are talking about. Let's say you are conversing with someone who can in fact, get you where you need to go...(as an actress, I like to imagine myself having a conversation with Gus Van Sant or Tyler Perry), and just for the fun of it, let's say the conversation we are having is very generic-neither here nor there. Regardless, I stay alert and enthusiastic about the convo, because at some point, Tyler will say something meaningless like, "I just bought a new dog that keeps me up barking all night," or Van Sant may say to a waiter, "No thanks, I'm not drinking tonight, I need to loose this gut." And while that seems like something too foolish to take heed to, the next day I am researching the "New and Improved" earplugs that keeps out the sounds of barking dogs, or a health and fitness article that says, "if you only drink one glass of red wine and chase it down with 3 glasses of water, you have a better chance of not putting any added weight around your midsection!" I know this may sound dumb to you and you may say that I am going to far, but, the next day when I am following up with Tyler Perry and Van Sant with an email (from their business cards), I remind them who I am, telling them it was nice chatting with them and suggesting they read a really funny article I happened to have stumbled across that morning about, dog barking-proofed ear plugs, or an article on, "drinking with out gaining weight", and send it with the attachments, I bet they will remember me the next time they see me or, the next time I decide to contact them asking if I could audition for their next films they are working on because I am a huge fan!
Listening, gives you a chance at helping the next person who is in need; no matter how frivolous the need. Networking is like fulfilling a void in someone’s life. But because you were listening to them sincerely, and take the opportunity to fulfill a need of something they were talking about, you put yourself in a position to be a receiver in the long run.
I even listen closely to my friends and associates needs and try to help out whenever I can. I often, call a friend and invite them to sit in on my acting class for free, because I feel they can learn or grow from that day's teaching. I may send an email to a person asking how I can help them on an upcoming project they are working on, just because. Sometimes, I will offer to help someone pack right before moving.
A few years ago, I was producing, and directing a sketched comedy show, Guudtimez, a parody of the 1970's sitcom Good Times, and my budget was running low-very low. A few friends and family members came together to help me, because I was not able to pay staff to help usher, or to work the box office or to clean up the makeshift theater afterwards. At the shows end, I was speaking to a close friend because I felt really bad that I wasn't able to give anything to the people who helped me during the run of my show, and she said to me, "Squeaky, don't you realize that we were all there to help you because you have helped us so many times before, we are just paying you back!" And it made me feel so relieved. That's when I learned that the true art of Networking was not what you get, but what you give!

TIP of the Day:

Go through all of your email contacts and send a quick email to 10 people you haven't connected with in a while, asking what they are up too, and letting them know you were just touching base with them. When they respond to you, see where you can be of assistance to them and offer it to them letting them know that you you are available to help if they need it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

With the Oscar nominations right around the corner, it is important for me to recognize a few great talents who otherwise may have gone unnoticed. It is so easy to get swept up by the buzz of big budget films and the mainstream stars who act in them. However, there are some truly amazing talents that go unrecognized.

I'm not only speaking of great filmmakers like Tyler Perry, who is certainly making his mark in this world; a great storyteller with a voice demanding to be heard, or Taraji P. Henson, who was loved even when she was considered just "another black, female actress" on Baby Boy, or who played the charming and engaging, Shug, on Hustle & Flow, and who is now being considered for an Oscar in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But, there are also great filmmakers, writers and actors, who have worked on small or ultra low budget films, with creative dialogue, and intense storytelling; whose films have been neglected of mention. I would like to encourage these filmmakers, actors, directors and writers to keep pursing and developing their talents. How do you think such great filmmakers like Ron Howard and Tyler Perry got their start. I'm sure it was due to their persistence with pursuing their passions.

One thing that makes a film great and nomination worthy, in my opinion, is the storytelling which not only includes the direction, but the acting, editing and other technical aspects as well. Along side of storytelling, is the influence the movie has on the viewer which also plays a role and makes the film a stand out.

As an actress, I love analyzing the actors personal character choices and truthfulness which shows in the performances of great Oscar nominated roles of actors like Meryl Streep in Bridges of Madison County, or Oscar winning roles of Denzel Washington in Training Day and Glory, and even the depicted future Oscar winner, Jeffrey Wright, whose performance as Peoples in Shaft, and Belize in Angels in America were riveting.

With great reverence, and in high esteem, I would like to nominate a few directors, writers, actors, and actresses who stand out and are worthy to be mentioned. Though they are on a smaller scale as far as budgets go and mainstream status quo, they are certainly making a mark and should be recognized, as they will not be a best kept secret for long.Without further or do, the 2008 Contenders List for The Moore Squeaky Award includes 6 films that I consider to be at the top of the underrated and underexposed “GREAT “ indie films of 2008. My definition of “GREAT”, encompass these categories: concept, picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay. While, I do not claim to know all who will emerge as A-list filmmakers, writers, actors and actresses, I can definitely say these are people to watch out for.

2008-2009 Moore Squeaky Award Season Contenders

And the Moore Squeaky Award Nomination goes to....

Best Directing

Chester Jones III, Hey Diddle, Diddle
Ephraim Benton, Three Quarters of Face Value
Mark Harris , I Used to Love Her
Damian Bailey, Surrender

The Best Screenplay

Hey Diddle, Diddle, Chester Jones III
I Used to Love Her, Mark Harris Surrender, Damian Bailey
Three Quarters of Face Value, Ephraim Benton

Best Upcoming Actress:

Toya Turner, I Used to Love Her
Anissa Chalmers, Surrender
Sheree Bynum, I Used to Love Her

Best Upcoming Actor
Chester Jones III, Hey Diddle Diddle
Ephraim Benton, Three Quarters of Face Value
Mel Roberson, I Used to Love Her

Best Screenplay Concept

Miles Maker , The Making of Brooklynn
Miles Maker, A Ticket for Hope D
amian Bailey, Surrender

Click on the links below to view complete profile for each contender for the Moore Squeaky Awards

Chester Jones III, Hey Diddle Diddle:
Official Website:

Mark Harris, I Used to Love Her:

Miles Maker, A Ticket for Hope & The Making of Brooklynn:

Damian Bailey, Surrender:

Sheree Bynum, I Used to Love Her:

Mel Roberson, I Used to Love Her

Annisa Chalmers, Surrender:

Ephraim Benton, Three Quarters of Face Value

TIP #1 for the day:

As an artist, you should be thinking of ways (at least three); things you could do to take your career to the next level.
As an actress, I do not wait for the phone to ring to be invited to an audition, Instead I am a catalyst; causing change to take place in my life.

TIP #2 for the day:

Make an effort to communicate with all of the directors that you have worked with and one’s that you’ve wanted to work with. See if they have upcoming films they are directing that you can audition for. Then send an email or a note on facebook, or myspace letting the director know that you would love to audition for their upcoming film with your resume, headshot and reel or video of your work attached.

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