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:
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.
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.
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