Running the Show Like the Big Chicks
by Stacy Kravetz
Foreword from the book Girl Boss:
I'm not sure exactly where I got my drive and perseverance--perhaps my father, an entrepreneur and perfectionist--but it began at an early age. At school, I would always take on the most challenging projects, sometimes to the degree that I would lose interest before they were completed. I have since learned to keep my goals realistic, and to only take on tasks which I know I can complete.
One project I did follow through on and which, consequently, was empowering and inspiring for me was directing a play in high school. I have no idea what compelled me to take on the challenge but I did it and I did it all. I directed it, produced it, built the sets, and designed the programs on my father's computer.
It was so much fun and the experience awakened me to the knowledge that I could do anything I set my mind to. I believe this of everyone. I believe from the bottom of my heart that there is nothing we as human beings, and especially we as women cannot tackle. It is not a matter of being fearless. The fear is sometimes constant but it's about moving forward regardless of the fear. Courage means feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
One of my only role models as a young woman was Meryl Streep and, specifically, her character in Out of Africa. I would watch the movie whenever I needed inspiration because Ms. Streep so brilliantly portrayed an incredibly courageous woman who stands alone to save her plantation. Her performance and the strength of her character weretangible examples of how I wanted to be in the world, and I soaked it in and learned from her experience.
Which brings me to The X-Files. When I was cast as Special Agent Dana Scully, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into--I was terrified. But I knew there was one thing I could rely on, and that was that I felt I knew how to act, and that I would be robbing myself of an incredible experience if I didn't just jump in head first. So I did. And let me tell you, every single minute of every day we shot the pilot episode, I was convinced they were going to(sic) fire me. I even started to question my talent which made it even scarier.
Fortunately, with the love and support of a close friend who kept convincing me to just show up and do the best that I could do, I hung in there. And I survived! I didn't know anything about acting in front of a camera but I learned. I learned to trust my instincts and commit fully to my choices, that there are no wrong decisions and that even "bad" decisions aren't fatal.
I have been so blessed to portray such a phenomenal woman as Dana Scully. She has taught me about strength and self-worth and personal power. In early episodes, when I was called upon to address large groups of male FBI agents with authority and self assurance, I felt so scared and weak that my voice would come out high-pitched and shaky. But the more I "acted as if" I was self-assured, the more I felt powerful. And believe it or not, it can be that simple.
"Acting as if" is sometimes all it takes to empower oneself, and I have learned to carry this into other areas of my life. When meeting with high-powered directors and producers, or presenting an award at an award ceremony, or doing a talk show; I act as if I am a strong, capable, worthy woman of power. And the more I do this, the more people listen to what I have to say and value my opinion.
Another tool that has been invaluable to me during high-stress situations is prayer. Praying to something greater than myself, whether it's a God or a role model or the ocean, is an immensely empowering device. Just getting quiet for a few moments before the event and asking for guidance and strength in the room; and if you can actually visualize yourself walking into the room as you would like to be, and visualize everything turning out exactly the way you would like to turn out--you will be amazed at how different you feel. And don't get discouraged. The more practice you have doing this the stronger you will feel, and the more powerful you will find the results.
Another miraculous result of playing Scully has been all the incredible young women I have been blessed to meet along the way--women who have shared that they have received strength from Scully, that because of Scully's strength they have been afraid but done it anyway. These have been women from all walks of life: women from low-income neighborhoods who have persevered despite all odds to study hard and pursue their dreams, enabling them to enter into better schools and work environments; women who have illness and physical challenges who have gotten better and stronger because they believe they can. I truly believe that we can overcome any hurdle that lies before us and create the life we want to live. I have seen it happen time and time again.
Now before I get off my soapbox, I want to talk about two other areas I feel important in the life of a powerful woman.
Never lie no matter what the situation. There is no predicament you could ever find yourself in that is worth lying. We need to be responsible for our actions and the only way to live this and learn it is to tell the truth. Other people will then learn that we are trustworthy, and trust is essential in any relationship, business or personal.
Be of service. Whether you make yourself available to a friend or co-worker, or you make time every month to do volunteer work, there is nothing that harvests more of a feeling of empowerment than being of service to someone in need.
Okay, I think I've said everthing I want to say. Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.
Be courageous, believe in yourself, and be the best woman you can be. I'm with you all the way.
Transcript provided by Wai Wong and appears courtesy of Girl Press.