Yesterday I saw the movie A Star Is Born and it messed with my freaking heart.
I love being in the spotlight. I always have. It’s hard for me to even say that because having a love for the spotlight is often perceived as being “prideful” or “arrogant”. But it’s something I’ve come to realize I can’t change about myself. I know I was made for it. I feel the most alive, the most like myself, when I’m in the spotlight. And I’ve come to realize that it is that way because it isn’t just about me. I’m meant to be there for a reason. It’s bigger than me. It’s you. It’s all of you. Honestly, the biggest reason I get up on stages under spotlights and dare to express myself authentically and unapologetically in front of others is so that a spotlight will shine on your hearts and you will choose to do the same. I know it’s what I was born to do. My life is meant to awaken people to dream again, to love themselves again, to embrace themselves in ways they never have before.
But I’ll be completely honest. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes I feel seen by a lot of people, but known by very few. Honestly the last two years of my life have felt like five because of the amount of friendships I’ve lost, transitions I’ve gone through, and opposition I’ve experienced in choosing to embrace myself and to pursue my dreams of stepping into the music industry. I’ve barely dipped my toes into the music industry and I’ve already started to experience the way that artists in the industry are viewed and treated.
A Star Is Born is a very real depiction of that.
It breaks my heart that artists in the industry are in a lot of ways treated as “commodities” and “prostitutes”. Artists are dehumanized and treated as “money-makers”. We demand that they produce something we like. And when they produce something or perform in ways we don’t like, we feel like we have the right to criticize them - when in reality we actually have never stepped into their shoes and experienced what they’re experiencing and have no sort of real connection or relationship with them whatsoever. It is one of the most vulnerable things in the world to put something you’ve created out into the world to be seen and judged, and it’s even more vulnerable to get up and perform in front of hundreds, thousands, millions of people.
I remember when Mariah Carey performed in New York City on New Years a couple years ago. I didn’t see the performance live but kept hearing from people that she was drunk and strung out during her performance. I decided to watch her performance, and as a person who has performed outside venues, I could immediately tell that she couldn’t hear the track in her in-ears. And if you can’t hear the track in your ears at an outdoor venue of that size with the speakers facing outwards, there’s no way you can perform it. I remember feeling so frustrated that people felt like they had the right to judge and assume things about her as a person when they actually had no idea what was really going on and had no real connection with her at all.
I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on famous singers and musicians this year. I recently watched one about Amy Winehouse and there was a clip of people booing Amy at a festival because she was drunk and fumbling around when she walked out onto the stage to sing. People booed her because she wasn’t giving them the performance they wanted. They performance they paid to get. They didn’t care about why she might have been so drunk.
And yet we hear about major artists committing suicide and we wonder why. Maybe it’s because we demand from them, pressure them, judge them, criticize them.
I’m hardly a known artist and I’ve started to experience this to a degree over the last four months. I’ve been invited into meetings with people who have looked me in the face and said, “I wanna make money, and you have a lot of potential.” Those words exactly. I’ve had producers contact me because of the potential they see in me and then the minute I say I don’t have their $15,000 budget, they want nothing to do with me. There were no questions asked about my life, my story or who I am as a person.
Luckily I’ve gone through the internal processes I’ve needed to go through in order to know who I am apart from what I do and apart from what other people, even people who know “big names” might think or say about me. I thank God for that.
But it’s still a challenging place to be in. And I’m not going to lie and say it’s not. One of the biggest things I’m going after in my artistry is being 100% authentic. And this is part of that.
A lot of people see the thrilling, dream-come-true side of my life and never see the challenging side. But I want to give you a real glimpse into all of it. The times where I feel victorious. The times where I feel defeated. My joyful moments and my painful moments. The moments where I feel like I can take on the world and the moments where I feel like I want to give up. Even if we never meet or talk to each other, I want to give you guys the real me.
I hope it inspires you to do the same.