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Amanda Seales On Success: “The Game Is About Stamina”

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We live in a time where seemingly overnight celebrities pop up on social media, leaving us to question where we all stand in our personal journeys.


Social media has skewed the millennial perspective of success. We falsely believe that by taking an inch, we deserve a mile and our version of success fits that formula. The allure of the overnight success story is one that taunts us mere mortals who wonder why with all the rise and grinds we do on a daily, we haven't been met with the same results.

The truth about success is that it is not instant and it is never overnight.

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Amanda Seales is a true testament of this. Although she's been in the game for over 10 years, as a actress, stand up comedian, VJ and a stint as ½ of the duo Floetry. she's just now reaping the rewards of her labor with a breakout role in HBO's Insecure, as well as performing in comedy houses as an opener for Chris Rock and more.

On Thursday, we met up with Amanda and a few of our favs on the red carpet at the 11th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards and they dropped major gems on success and what it takes to have a long-lasting career. When asked about the false perception of overnight success, Amanda told us:

"This game is so much about stamina. It's not just about talent. A lot of us got talent, it's definitely not about being cute. We are all cute. The game-changer is who can last, through the trials, tribulations, the self-doubt, the fails. The misdirects, you think you are going in this direction and it's like 'uh ha! Got you b-tch' That's really where you find out who has it."

"I think a lot of folks don't understand that it's not a diss to your talent to have to continue to work to get people to know," she added. "When we talk about knowing your worth, it's not just about knowing how to not get undersold, it's also about knowing how to not oversell. Know where you are in the marketplace."

Amanda even touched on how she views her success, which she likened to an on-point analogy of a plane ready for lift off. "I'm at the airport. Like, I'm in the terminal. You know what? I'm at the gate. I was in TSA just like, 'Not there yet, huh?' Now we are at the gate, and we are ready to board because I have not taken off yet. Y'all haven't seen nothing."

New York Times best-selling author Luvvie Ajuyi, who was a blogger for over 10 years before snagging a major book deal followed by a TV deal with Shonda Rhimes also had some strong words of advice for anyone seeking instant gratification in their career:

"There is no instant. I am a 12-year overnight success. There is no instant, you have to work at it. There is literally no shortcut that is going to guarantee that you will stay there. You have to practice your craft, you have to learn some lessons along the way (hard ones), and then hope for the best."

Representation, or lack thereof, has led to a Renaissance of Black Women in media and we are here for it. Access to social media offers more leverage to millennial Black female creative professionals than ever before. Tessa Thompson reminded us on the red carpet that the road to success is not easy, and if we don't see a lane for ourselves, create our own.

"When you look at all of the women that are being honored today for example, all of us had a long road to get here and the road continues after this day. I would say the thing that's so exciting about millennials now that we work in a time where if you want to make something, make it and put it online. That's what Issa Rae did. And did it for many years before Insecure happened. I think if you see a void. If you are not seeing yourself in media, then put yourself there."

Real success takes time.

And the women at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon are symbols of perseverance, standing as pillars that exemplify the hard work, drive, and dedication that propelled their careers forward and to the top. Each woman is a titan in her own right, moving mountains and breaking through glass ceilings, showing the world what bosses do.

Watch our red carpet coverage of the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon below:

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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