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'Snowfall' Actress Gail Bean Says Rest Is A Self-Care Non-Negotiable

"Any opportunity that is meant for you, will not miss you. You can't be afraid to put yourself first."

Finding Balance

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, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

Are you familiar with the show Snowfall? If not, you should definitely grab a nice bottle of wine, a snack, and get ready for a good binge, because you are missing out, sis! Snowfall is an FX show, co-created by the late John Singleton, that highlights the first crack epidemic in Los Angeles and how it impacts the community, especially the black community. The show stars Damson Idris, who plays Franklin Saint, a 20-year old drug dealer who gets in over his head in the drug game. But there are always two sides to a story. While we see how drugs have brought extra cash in people's pockets, Snowfall also shows how drugs have changed the lives of black people forever. Recently, we sat down with actress Gail Bean, who plays Wanda Bell, a strong young woman who unfortunately becomes an addict to the crack product. While I am not going to give you any spoilers to this amazing show, the character Wanda shows the realness of the evolution of addiction and by Gail's words, that "the day before your life changes, it's just a normal day."

Shot by: @stephonx_ Stephon WilliamsCourtesy of Gail Bean

Growing up, Gail Bean has always had a passion for the arts. Snowfall is not her first big role on the screen either. The Atlanta native starred in the Kris Swanberg's Sundance film festival hit Unexpected in 2015. In this film, Gail played Jasmine, a promising high school student who unexpectedly gets pregnant and builds an unlikely friendship with her teacher; who happens to be pregnant at the same time. While Gail Bean continues to follow her passion in acting, Gail Bean's main priority is to break down barriers for the black community. Gail wants to show others after her, the possibilities of making a name for yourself in this world and making a positive impact.

In this installment of Finding Balance, we talk to Gail Bean about resilience, setting boundaries, and tapping into your passion to ultimately find balance.

xoNecole: Tell me about your process for getting into the character of Wanda [in 'Snowfall']. 

Gail Bean: I use my personal experiences with other people and I have done extensive research. With my research, I watched documentaries to really understand the progression of people when they first become crack addicts and see what happens over time. I learned so much about people's stories where they were prom queens or athletes before drugs took over. I also would do volunteer work at My Friend's House when I lived in LA. With My Friend's House, I was able to pass out food, clothes, and toiletries for people who live on Skid Row. I was also able to get up close and personal with people who were addicts.

What made you want to become an actress? Did you always see yourself working in television and film growing up?

I have always loved performing. I was a senior in high school when I decided I wanted to pursue drama. I actually really loved law growing up. I thought I was going to be the female Johnnie Cochran (laughs). But I believed acting would challenge me more. No shade to the lawyers out there (laughs)! After I graduated college, I moved to LA, where I started acting full-time and took it seriously.

What is your "why"?

This sounds so professional, but this is really the truth (laughs). I want to break down barriers for the black community. I really want to make the road to success, whatever that may look like, easier. My goal is to inspire others to broaden their perspective on what a career could look like for them. There are so many paths we can take in order to reach a lifestyle that we want to live. There are already obstacles out there to make sure we do not make it to the top. So I want to help change the mentality that we can't make it out here. No matter what other people may say, delay does not mean denied.

"There are so many paths we can take in order to reach a lifestyle that we want to live. No matter what other people may say, delay does not mean denied."

Shot by: @stephonx_ Stephon Williams

Courtesy of Gail Bean

At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life? 

At what point? Now (laughs). I have always been the person to be there for everybody and be everywhere whenever someone would call. But right now a lot of things--a lot of good things--are all happening at once. In order for me to really find balance, [I have] to work, but also make time for my family. My family is truly the one thing that keeps me grounded. I have been intentional in making uninterrupted family time into my schedule.

How would you describe the perfect self-care day for yourself?

OK, so BOOM (laughs). A perfect self-care day for me would start off with a nice mimosa in the morning and a bubble bath. Then I would go on a bike ride. After my bike ride, I would have a dance party in my house followed by a funny movie. Then I would go get a massage, the 90-minute session and not the 60-minute one, so they can stretch me all the way out (laughs). Lastly, I would like to come home to a personal chef cooking dinner.

How do you practice self-love?

How I like to show myself self-love is through gifts. This is also my love language. So normally, I would buy myself something or buy someone else something. Just receiving or giving a small token of appreciation makes me feel really good inside.

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?

Get your rest. Rest has to be mandatory for self-care. As women, we are always working and we think to ourselves, 'Oh, I just have to do this last thing.' Then that one thing turns into another thing. Pretty soon, you missed out on taking a break. Get that nap in, sis. Because what you do in 12 hours, with a nap, baby you can get it done in five hours. Also don't be afraid to tell people "no". It's OK to put your phone on Do Not Disturb during the day, so you can have that uninterrupted time. I know that can be hard because you may feel like you might miss something. But any opportunity that is meant for you, will not miss you. You can't be afraid to put yourself first.

"Rest has to be mandatory for self-care. I know that can be hard because you may feel like you might miss something. But any opportunity that is meant for you, will not miss you. You can't be afraid to put yourself first."

Shot by: @stephonx_ Stephon Williams

Courtesy of Gail Bean

How do you find balance with:

Friends?

My friends definitely understand my schedule. But I would say the best thing that has helped my friendships is communication. So many relationships are ruined because of bad communication. My friends and I make sure we check-in on one another since there are times we can't hang out because we are busy. But my friends and I are able to pick up where we left off regardless.

Love/Relationships?

Girl, let me tell you. My boyfriend is so supportive and patient with me, that having balance with him is literally the easiest thing. I am the person who is always in a rush and he is the complete opposite (laughs). I am so used to being in a rush because of what I do and he helps me slow down sometimes. Honestly, he is my balance.

Exercise?

On a weekly basis, I like to go skating and I love boxing. I actually started boxing for an audition I had. I wanted to make sure I prepped for the role, but I fell in love with it and I haven't put it down since. I can be a little aggressive (laughs).

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

First, I acknowledge my feelings and then I allow myself to go through it. I tell myself to sit with any negative feelings for 24 hours. After those 24 hours, I say positive affirmations, listen to worship podcasts, or even put on a sad movie. People try to tell you not to watch a sad movie when you're sad, don't listen to that. If there is someone in that movie that can cry with me, then we can cry together (laughs)!

"I acknowledge my feelings and then I allow myself to go through it. I tell myself to sit with any negative feelings for 24 hours."

And honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you? 

There is this YFN Lucci song where he says, "Fame is when people know you. Notoriety is when people know your work." Success to me would be seeing my passion flourish with uplifting the black community, but it is also about notoriety. I don't care about being a celebrity, to be honest. More importantly, I want my work to mean something for people. I want the work I put in with my characters to last through generations.

For happiness, happiness is being at ease. Knowing that my family is taken care of is happiness for me. Knowing that I am loved and I can give love to other people any way that I can is happiness. Paying it forward where you are happy with yourself, you are able to spread happiness.

For more of Gail, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Gail Bean

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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