Amanda Seales made her viral debut on the internet scene last year when she got Caitlyn Jenner all the way together during a roundtable discussion that had us all clapping and saying, "Thank you, Amanda." While many of us know her from her role as Tiffany on Insecure, Seales has in fact been in the game for over two decades. As a former member of Floetry, Seales has since transitioned into a full-time comedic career and is currently on tour with her stand up comedy experience, Smart, Funny & Black.
If you follow her on social media, you know that she has no issue speaking from the experience of a black woman in the entertainment industry. While some may perceive her delivery as upfront and even "crass" at times, Seales makes no apologies for the belief she has in herself and the values on which she stands. Amanda is an example of unapologetic blackness that we all should embrace and learn from at the same time.
She recently sat down with Forbes to talk about her development throughout her comedic career, and got real about what it's like to be a black women in that space. She shared why it's so important to go into all situations knowing your market value.
The way this economy is set up, a lot of us are reduced—or empowered, depending on your take—to having multiple hustles in order to thrive. While it's been said that the average millionaire has up to seven streams of income, finding balance while pursuing your vision is certainly a juggling act. Seales offered advice on how developing your business intuition can help you avoid advice from those who don't truly understand your vision. She says:
"If you're not good at juggling, then you're not juggling. I always tell people that. If you're dropping a lot of balls then maybe you shouldn't juggle. And that's fine...there's different ways of working. For the earlier portion of my career, it was 'I'm being led in this direction....oh let's try this out.' It wasn't until I turned 30 and got clearer on what I felt I needed to do to find my purpose—which was comedy. At this point, it's not that it's strategic but my intuition with business has become sturdy and solid and I really do trust it. I have people around me that also trust it. I think for a long time I didn't have people who understood where I was coming from. They were giving me advice on what would be good for them."
When you know yourself and are comfortable in your own skin, you can discover your unique market value. According to the actress, there is a real difference between knowing your worth and knowing your market value.
"The more that I learned about myself and what I bring to the table, it made it clearer for me to chart what courses I should be going. I talk a lot about your worth versus your market value and that dichotomy is so important for a lot of us coming up in business because it saves you a lot of stress. For a long time, I didn't have a balance in terms of my worth and my market value; I was just a very talented person who hadn't done any work that truly demonstrated my talent."
Your worth and market value can exist separately, but in combination, will enable you to surpass even your highest expectations, Amanda Seales is proof.
Being a black woman in a male-dominated space requires a certain amount of confidence. It's essential that acknowledge of your value, even when other people choose not to. The comic says that she won't be boxed-in by prior representation of what black comics can offer.
"With the concept of standup, black women for so long were sequestered into this space of only talking about 'black women thangs' which consisted of our genitals and our man. I have way more to offer than my vagina and a brother."
She's known for breaking these boundaries in her stand up routines, as well as on her weekly podcast Small Doses. Her social media engagement proves that women can be black AF, and still be interested in things like Star Wars, football, and Lord of the Rings.
"I had to make a conscious decision to change the type of work that I'm doing...I needed to change the type of spaces that I'm speaking in. It's not as much about strategy than if something feels right. I'm also very fortunate to have a very vocal social media audience that is truly tapped into what I'm about and say exactly what they want."
The 37-year-old actress told Forbes that getting in the door of the entertainment industry isn't much different than getting in the door of any industry. Talent and hardwork may get you in the room, but genuine confidence in your abilities will earn you a seat at the table. For Seales, this confidence came from self-discovery.
"People always ask me how I'm so confident—it's because I know myself. Confidence comes from knowledge and information about something. As a performer, the more you know about you the more tools you're able to play with when it comes to portraying characters and discussing different topics...Once you learn more about you, you then have the formula to express why you should be in certain roles. We tend to spend too much time trying to figure everyone else out. Just figure you out and you'll be in the door."
As Seales continues to build her platform, she is aware of the inherent responsibility to provide both entertainment AND facts. Fortunately, as U.S. citizens, we are endowed with freedom of speech, but that freedom doesn't exist without consequence. This is especially true when this speech is inherently misinformation. When asked about a certain artist's (Kanye West) recent use of "free thinking", she had this to say:
"Freedom of speech is rooted in choosing how you speak. We are conflating the issue when we say he has his right to an opinion. No one is questioning that. The question is: why is that your opinion? And also, when you have a large platform why are you being so reckless with your misinformation? We don't have the luxury of that. Even though some good things are still happening, we are in a very, very bad time."
Amanda's growth and lack of inhibition is inspiring to watch. She will forever be my "friend in my head", and I'll be here rooting her on. Read more of her words of wisdom from her interview with Forbes here.
Featured image by BET Networks