In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
The first time I met Gia Peppers, I was a student in the WEEN Academy, a four-week crash course in the entertainment industry.
We had been told that one day during the academy, alumnae would come by and have a WEEN roundtable, a day many of us were nervous about because you never know what to expect in the academy. As my WEEN sisters and I sat around in a circle, alumnae, including Gia, came in, offering discussions of Black women just talking about life, the industry, and perseverance.
Of all the things from that day, I remember making a mental note about something strange about Gia (she probably noticed me just staring at her and maaaybe was creeped out). I took note of how energetic she was, yet simultaneously, how calm her spirit felt. Up to that point, I had only known the name and face through my constant Instagram stalking, cheering on the sidelines because I just thoroughly loved another DMV (D.C., Virginia, and Maryland) native killin' it. She was someone I immediately made my big sister in my head, constantly following by example.
But Gia is one of those people who will steal your heart before you know it. She's young, but wise beyond her years. She's nothing short of showing people what putting in the work looks like, but also what it means to stay humble and never be above anything or anyone. But behind all the 'Gram flicks, the BlackGirl Podcast, and the nightly games during NBA season, how does Gia keep it all calm, cool, and collected?
In this installment of xoNecole's Finding Balance series, sitting outside a cute little café in the city, Gia and I chatted, woman to woman, sister to sister, creator to creator, and woman of God to woman of God. We talked work, life, and of course, balance.
What does an average week look like to you?
Lately, it's varied. Every single day comes down to planning and executing when you're a freelancer. Nowadays, I do a lot of hosting and get to do cool work as an on-air talent. Before, I was a journalist, but I knew I wanted to be talent. Of course, there's different perks involved, including the money. People were willing to help get me where I wanted to go, but you have to become more intentional about what you put out, and it has to be dope, especially since you don't have a standard 9-5.
During NBA season, it's a lot about travel. If I have a shoot, I'll be up and there by 8-9 AM. Then after, I get on Amtrak and get back to D.C., chill, do my makeup, and have everything ready for production meetings at 5:30. From 6-9 PM, we're hosting the game. Mom picks me up from the game, and then Dad and I will get up at 5 AM and he'll get me to the train and I'm back in NYC by 8 AM.
I also make sure to work out, pray, meditate, and set my intentions for the week.
I get a lot of really great headspace there, and then I'll work outside cafés, and sit and plan out what I want to do for the rest of the week. For me, I have waited way too long and there's all this work that I have to sift through, like my EPK! I always prep before things, so if there's an interview or event happening, I'm studying my script or writing it if I have to. It's about seeing what's coming down the pipeline and then preparing for it. I'm also getting better about posting on Instagram, and the community I've created online is really dope, so I try to put some dopeness out into the atmosphere. It's part of the territory as a host. So when it comes down to it, it's down to planning and execution.
When things get stressful, how do you get back to yourself? What role does religion and faith play in your life?
I grew up in the church. When I got to college, that's when I learned what's really inside of me, as I feel most people go through. I knew that I always had an awareness of my calling and purpose, probably because I'm the oldest in my family. I had to be an example for my brother and sister, but it shaped a lot of who I am. Even now, I'm not a wild kid, but I try to balance life when I can. Everything that we do is up to us, whether we try to act like it's a piece of a bigger picture or not. Everything we do is bigger than us. I learned how to hone in to the higher frequencies out there.
When you pray, you can ask God for help. You can tell Him you're upset, and He will help you out. It's an everyday decision to choose yourself, your health, and your dreams. You can accomplish whatever you want, it's just going to take work to do it.
But what happens when you get those thoughts of doubt? Those thoughts that tell you you can't be great?
It can be tough because people try to say "greatness" is this thing that only one person can do. Anybody can be great, but do you have the guts to be great? Can you walk around with egg on your face and 20,000 people look at you? Can you be the same person when you win OR lose? I had to learn how to be that person, but it also starts with understanding that you have to take care of yourself and be aware of your body and its needs. Step back and take some time for yourself, replenish yourself when you need to. The entertainment industry can take a lot out of you, and you need to find the things that work for you, whether it's a sermon or motivational podcast.
Awareness is the key.
You have to have people who believe in you even when you don't believe in yourself. Write it down so when you forget, you can see it. And you have to do the work. If that means listening to your favorite love songs to get yourself in alignment, you gotta fight for yourself. When bad thoughts come through, you have to sweep them away, and tell them that's not true. Those things slowly but surely get you back.
Do you exercise?
I have a trainer! She has helped me become more aware of what I'm putting into my body and how much time it takes to really keep your body on track. You don't have to be extreme and do all this stuff to your body. I think once you get into this mental state that you realize you have the power to transform anything, including your body and your mind, the physical exercise really becomes nothing. Get those endorphins going! Working out has helped me, but you don't have to join a gym. You can do what you need to do while at home or outside. But I need a trainer, because I know I'll be at the gym and just be on my phone. (Laughs)
I want to know how you find balance with friends.
From the time I was a kid, my mom had us in several things. I was taking ballet, and then piano, and vocal lessons because I was trying to be Beyoncé. So, I really learned at a young age that life is compartmentalized in different ways and experiences that help you achieve. I've always been okay with having multiple things going on at once, and I'm a person who can operate in that. Like, if I stay still too long, I'll be like, "I have to get out of the house." Again, everything is intentional.
Check on your friends, celebrating and showing up for them and yourself. Putting out that you need your friends.
Our sisterhoods and our tribes have kept our culture together. If you find someone who makes you feel more inspired, stick with them. I came from the Girl Scouts, but also WEEN Academy, who gave me people who work in the industry and look out for me. Join organizations, learn how you can get into spaces with women. Create your peer spaces.
Family, I'm nothing without them. Black moms can be a bit crazy, but my mom does not give me a choice when it comes down to talking to the family (laughs). I learned on my own spiritual journey, God puts you on this Earth with people on purpose. I have one job — to love the people in my life, my parents, and siblings. Even if you don't have a family, creating your family is dope. Just stick with the people who give you positivity, and be sure to pour back into them.
Oh, I'm still learning about dating. (Laughs)
How have you learned the power to say "no" to things that don't serve you?
It is a situational basis, everything is different. As a person who is in the middle of her journey, sometimes the right tradeoff is worth it. Not looking at the dollar signs, but seeing the larger payoff.
You have to be smart with how you choose your opportunities, because every opportunity isn't the same.
I think the reason I was so out of alignment was because, at some point, I allowed myself to stop being aware of my purpose, but also, just taking care of the spiritual part. Being in a relationship with God has to be an everyday relationship like you would be with your boo. I stopped caring, I gave the "no" rejections more power than "yes", and I just gave up because I'm human.
What's the hardest part about all of this? All that you do?
There are so many hard parts to this. Being an on-air talent is hard because you don't have an agent, you're just hustling. I'm a hustler by birth, but the hardest part is staying in the hustle mode but also giving yourself the space to regroup. Also, the disparity in pay between men and women is REAL. I'll talk to my male counterparts and they'll tell me they got twice as much.
Moments like that remind me it's about being vocal and finding out which battles are worth it.
If you have the power to be like, "Hey, so she shouldn't be getting paid less because she's a woman," and utilizing your power to help others, you should use it. Every battle has its own set of war tactics, but everytime you go through it, you add something to your arsenal. You have to be really focused and determined on what your big picture looks like. It can be tough, but remember who you are, whose you are, and where you're going, and you'll be fine.