Sometimes when you’re pursuing a path in life, particularly in entertainment, it takes some external force to help light the way. For me, that force is Capoeira. On the surface, Capoeira is a very cool form of martial arts that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music to create something that’s incredibly compelling to watch. As an actor swimming in the heavily saturated pool of twenty-something females, I was looking for ways to stand out and give my resume an extra edge. Often compared to a cross between Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez, I was drawn to the idea of femininity mixed with edginess and the ability to kick ass. Capoeira had crossed my path a few years prior and I thought that could just be the ticket…
Little did I know that diving into this world would be the ticket to something far greater. The lessons I was learning would strike a deeper cord than ever expected and resonate into all areas of my life. And so my Capoeira journey began.
The second I stepped foot into Capoeira Brasil Academy, I was immediately drawn in by this bellowing hunk of a Brazilian man with a thick Portuguese accent and a fiery passion and presence. This was Mestre Boneco, the Academy’s Founder himself. The energy of the community was infectious and exciting and left you craving more. One day, I was in there grinding away, focusing intently on how to correctly execute this spinning kick I was learning. Suddenly, Mestre stops me mid spin, looks me in the eyes, and says with his heavy accent, “Stop thinking so much!” He insisted that I knew the move and had the potential to be really good at this. Then, after a beat, he yelled at me in his boisterous voice before storming off, “the biggest thing for you is to believe! Jus’ belieeeeeve, baby! BE-LIEVE!”
And that’s when it hit me. That’s my biggest problem. In life. In my career. I was so caught up in the how. How to do everything right. So much so that I didn’t just go for the proverbial “kick.” Because I didn’t really believe.
Fast-forward to about three years later, I just received my new raw/orange cord at the Capoeira Brasil LA graduation ceremony (Batizado). I was overcome by an odd sweeping emotion of embarrassment and discomfort as my name was called and people congratulated me. Despite three years of training, I didn’t think I was really at the point where I should receive this cord. I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t believe.
As Batizados go, once you are awarded your new cord, you play a game in a roda (circle of people) with a Mestre (Master) or very high level cord. Completely immersed in the sentiments I described, I stuck to my very basic moves which I knew I could do and didn’t play a very interesting game. I didn’t take any risks. I didn’t go for it. I later explained to my family who came to watch, “I actually do know a lot of moves, I just get intimidated to play, so I’m not used to doing them in the game setting.” As the words trickled out, it dawned on me immediately. The lesson came back full circle. I didn’t believe.
…And, holy crap, the same thing is going on in my career.
I had self-produced an indie web series, Stockholm, starring me and actor Zack Gold, both of us with minimal social media following, on a shoestring budget, and managed to lead the way, with the guidance of my established web Director, Scott Brown, to over 300,000 views, IAWTV nominations, and multiple festival awards. I then went on to co-produce the series Destroy the Alpha Gammas, which garnered even more acclaim and recognition, ending with the big bang of a Streamy Award nomination. And yet, despite having done these producing “moves,” I still did not think of myself as a Producer. In fact, I was recently asked to co-produce a project that I nearly said no to because, in my mind, I’m not really a producer, I just know some producing moves. There I was, ever so familiarly, hesitating to “play the game” out of fear of failure for lack of confidence. I didn’t believe.
However, much like being awarded my new cord, I was offered this opportunity because, thankfully, others believed in me even when I wasn’t believing in myself, and for that I am deeply grateful. That is what propels me forward. So in the spirit of believing, I’ve decided to step out of my comfort zone and step into the “game” more. To share and embrace publicly in this forum of women that I’m an Actress, Producer, Capoeirista. To not only start owning that I have some “moves,” but to start playing with them so that I may advance in a bigger way. So maybe I won’t play the game perfectly- inside or outside of the roda- but at least I’ll be playing big rather than continuing to be stuck playing small. It’s time to believe.
It’s still a long road, but I am looking forward to sharing the journey with all of you. Let’s all kick ass. Let’s all BE-LIEVE!
For some inspiration, check out Capoeira Crush- Amazing Women Capoeiristas:
Interested in Capoeira? Try your first class free at Capoeira Brasil LA!
What activity have you or might you take on to compliment your entertainment journey? What “moves” do you have that you’ve not been giving yourself credit for? What do you need to believe? I’d love to hear your thoughts!