Wisdom//

Elaine Welteroth on Waking Up to Her Own Possibilities

An unexpected opportunity landed her the interview of a lifetime.

Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House
Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

My Aunt Janet’s daughter, Chey, was a publicist at an entertainment PR firm in Los Angeles, and I begged her to hook me up with an internship during my winter intersession from school. When I landed the gig, Chey invited me to stay with her at her studio apartment in Koreatown. It was my first grown-up adventure. And it was thrilling.

Within days of my internship, I met a young female TV producer, one of Chey’s friends, who said within moments of speaking with me: “Have you ever thought about doing TV?”

I had not. Well, not in a serious way, since I imagined those career paths were reserved for people with connections.

Then she said something that struck me: “You are so much bigger than you even know.”

I didn’t know what she meant or what prompted her to say that to me, but it seemed like a good omen and it left me feeling sparkly, like I had a good aura accompanying me on this trip.

The next day, her company sent me to cover a Warner Brothers musical showcase as an on-air reporter. My job was to interview Talib Kweli on camera. (My internal reaction when I got the call was basically Tom Hanks in that iconic scene from the movie Big where he’s going ham on the supersized keys of a piano.) I was nineteen years old, walking into a packed room of reporters with my camera crew and producer, feeling bossy, but I very quickly got my reality check: the producers warned me that with this many reporters in one room, “You only eat what you kill.” Which meant, not everyone was getting the interview. Plus, Talib might not even show, and if he did, there was already a list of approved interviews with a general pecking order on the entertainment-reporter circuit. We were a local TV station and I was a completely unknown entity.

And yet, I felt totally in my element. As soon as I heard everyone start shouting, “Talib, Talib!!” I cut through the crowd like a hot knife through butter. I walked right up to my subject, introduced myself, and calmly, without skipping a beat, I whipped my head around to my crew and said, “Let’s go.” Lights. Camera. Action. I asked my questions in a conversational manner, as if the cameras weren’t there, and as we closed out, Talib shook my hand and said, “Good to meet you.”

Boom. I got my sound bites, my job there was done—and then, he dipped. No one else got an interview that day.

My crew reacted uproariously: “Daaamn.”

I felt it, too. The rush of finding out that what you’re good at you also enjoy is priceless. And having the opportunity to actually get paid for doing it is, well, the dream.

In LA, I felt electrified. Like there was actual magic coursing through my veins. I was finally waking up to my own possibilities, and to a deeper realization of the power of vision and faith—two of the most important tools I would need on my journey. For the first time, I understood that the bigness of my life would not only be determined by the bigness of my dreams—but also my capacity to trust that there is a Higher Power who would always take those dreams and multiply them.

This was a reminder that there is a divine order, a divine flow to our lives. We don’t need to have all the answers. But our job is to keep on dreaming and trusting enough to put one foot in front of the other.

To keep moving forward.

To keep pushing beyond whatever feels confining.

To keep searching for where the magic is.

To continue expanding, staying open to being stretched.

And allowing room to be completely awed by how much better it gets along the way.

From More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, to be published on June 11, 2019 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright (c) 2019 by Elaine Welteroth.

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