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An Interview With Amanda Van Annan on Creating a Seat at the Table When the Odds Are Against You. Navigating Your Way through Life and Finding Your Voice, Thereby Creating Unique Opportunities.

Amanda Van Annan is a Model, actress, entrepreneur and host that identifies herself as a citizen of the world having lived in five countries and growing up in different continents before moving to the USA.  She is well-read, well accomplished and believes in continually pivoting in terms of creating opportunities to get your seat at […]

Amanda Van Annan
Amanda Van Annan

Amanda Van Annan is a Model, actress, entrepreneur and host that identifies herself as a citizen of the world having lived in five countries and growing up in different continents before moving to the USA.  She is well-read, well accomplished and believes in continually pivoting in terms of creating opportunities to get your seat at the table.   There are opportunities everywhere sometimes we have to look beyond ourselves to find them.

A short story about yourself

My name is Amanda Van Annan. I grew up in the UK. I am partly African and partly Latin mix through my grandfather’s heritage.   I started my work life as a model at the age of 17 then later I went on to study drama and then moved to Los Angeles as an actress.  I love entrepreneurial ventures and have started several ventures of my own.  I have an MBA, and I love writing.  My latest venture is a range of products for female sexual wellness launching later this year in fall. I also host a podcast that focuses on personal development, beauty and body image called “Beauty and The Beat”.

What gives you energy?

I get my energy mainly from meditative chanting and doing Yoga.  I enjoy the company of friends and useful discussions that inspire me and give me a positive, focused outlook.

What’s your secret life hack?

My biggest life hack is to get as much sleep as possible.  It helps keep me mentally focused and keep my skin looking young and fresh..  The benefits of proper rest cannot be ignored; we all need to get adequate rest as quality sleep can be very restorative. 

Name a book that changed your life.

The book that changed my life is, “I know why the caged bird sings”, by Maya Angelou.  It gave me a new perspective on life.  Being very young when I read the book, her adventures and experiences were fascinating to me.   I read the whole series of books and think this was my first encounter with feminist ideology.  I loved the colourfulness of Maya Angelou’s storytelling.  The way she describes her stature and her absolute comfort in her skin.    This book and its accompanying books in her biography series took me on a life story adventure.  It was incredible; it changed my perspective on what it is to be a woman of colour and what happens when you go on a journey of self-discovery.

 You are a creative as well as a business entrepreneur; how do you combine the two?

I may make it look easy,  but it’s not. There is a constant battle between my business brain and my creative brain. Unfortunately, the world can be a misogynistic place; I find a lot of men refuse to recognize your capabilities if you are a pretty face.  They think you are just another pretty face and you almost have to prove that you are capable.   I have come across a lot of people that do not like the fact that I am upfront and straightforward. A lot of times, I have had to work twice as hard to prove that a pretty girl can do what a guy can.  I created my opportunities myself, and if there aren’t any,  I create my own company.   I believe in setting goals and aiming for them, even when the odds are against you.  That’s why I use my spiritual practice to keep me focused.  Its never easy,  but we have to keep on creating value in the world.

You talk about getting a seat at the table what advice do you have for others trying to change careers or get their foot through the door?

Work hard, don’t take no for an answer, persevere and never let anyone tell you that you cant.   I realized life is a game of numbers.   If you keep doing your best and keep trying, eventually you should have a breakthrough. You also have to learn to navigate the terrain.  Never do anything that you can’t handle and always stay focused on your end goal.  People will tell you what they think based on their perceptions but never let it define you.   The journey can sometimes be lonely but remember you created it.  Find your tribe, those people that love you, friends or family, hang around them and be dedicated to your relationships.  It would help if you keep your mental health strong and a positive attitude

Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

My phone does not sleep with me, though it is on my bedside table. I try not to have it in my bed with me.  I have it closed in case of emergencies and leave it on in case a relative may want to reach me as I travel often, and they may be in a different time zone.  However, that said, I think social media is the big culprit.   People spend so much of their time on social media using others as their point of reference.  The truth about life is you are the only one that can be your reference. Use others as a sounding board.  You are unique in your own right.  You don’t need to get validation from anyone to be yourself

How do you deal with email?

I still have not figured out my email routine yet.  I check it multiple times a day.  I am trying to discipline myself to only check my email once or twice a day during a fixed time.   Email is one of those things that I often check, partly because I have my cellphone on me. Though I have reduced it to no more than four times a day.

You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

I would probably spend it just relaxing daydreaming and letting loose.  I don’t believe in constant brain activity, I sometimes like to decompress by thinking of nothing and just letting it all go.  

When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

I think I felt burnt out over the last two years due to being busy trying to launch several projects and doing several things at the same time.   I hardly had much time to sleep as I was always on the go.

When was the last time you felt you failed, and how did you overcome it?

Sometimes, I feel like my life is a constant battle with myself.  I think a lot of times we all feel we have failed, but we have to keep pushing forward.   I feel like I have failed almost every time I am doing something challenging.   But then I keep on pushing forward until I breakthrough.  I think we cannot deny failure, it is human to have insecurities about your capabilities, but with time you can build strength and become more resilient and learn to pat yourself on the back for every win you make.

What are three life lessons you think everyone should live by?

Never expect anything from anyone; they do not owe you anything, don’t expect it from them.

Always try to do your best, even if you don’t get compliments on your exemplary work, cream always rises to the top. Always stand for what is right.   Don’t be afraid.

Share a quote that you love, and that gives you strength or peace.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

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