Kiaundra Jackson: “Not everyone will like you and that is okay”

If I could inspire a movement, it would be around prioritizing mental health and reducing the stigma around getting professional help. No one can afford to ignore their mental health. There isn’t one group of people who need it more than another. If we all do our part to maintain our own mental health daily, […]

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If I could inspire a movement, it would be around prioritizing mental health and reducing the stigma around getting professional help. No one can afford to ignore their mental health. There isn’t one group of people who need it more than another. If we all do our part to maintain our own mental health daily, the world would be a better place.

As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kiaundra Jackson. Kiaundra is known as one of America’s leading Relationship Therapists. She has been seen on the Emmy-Award Winning TV Show, The Doctors. She has been recently featured in Oprah’s Magazine, The New York Times, FOX, The CW, CBS, Vice, BET and The Huffington Post as one of the ’10 Black Female Therapists You Should Know.’ She is an international speaker, best-selling author and a trusted Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that gets results. She is a noted expert on healthy relationships and mental health. Visit; Follow @KiaundraJackson on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Born and raised in Compton, California, I come from a city where poverty, drugs, and senseless gang violence was the norm. My parents attempted to protect me from as much as possible, but was unable to hide the negativity that was manifesting in our own household. At the tender age of 10, I witnessed domestic violence amongst my parents and had the words “I will kill you!” etched into my brain by my biological father. The familial and financial shift of seeing my parents divorced, living in a single-parent home with my mother, and my older sister expecting her first child at 16-year old caused me to wonder if there was more to life. I just knew there had to be more than living from paycheck to paycheck, eating the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and barely getting by with just the basic necessities.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Unfortunately, due to my environment, I could not find a tangible example of what success looked like or what a healthy relationship should be. Literally, everyone I knew was either divorced or in an unhealthy relationship and seemed to be complacent with living mediocre. It was the absence of what I needed at the time that drove me to being a therapist. I figured if I made it through all the obstacles I faced successfully, it is only right to help others navigate through their process.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It was my first semester of graduate school. I was sitting in class where we had to hold mock therapy sessions with another classmate. Honestly, no one knew how to be a therapist at that time because we were all learning at the same pace and speed. The professor told me I would “never be a good therapist” because I was not using the therapeutic techniques the way she thought I should. It was a pivotal moment. I will never forget how hearing those words made me contemplate dropping out of graduate school immediately. However, I did not and I had some fellow classmates encourage me to keep going. I clearly went on to prove that professor and countless other naysayers wrong because within only a few short years after graduating, I have world-wide recognition for my work.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

**Can we remove this question please? I do not have a funny mistake I can share that does not break legal or ethical issues**

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The beautiful part of being a full-time entrepreneur is that the excitement and opportunities continue to keep coming. I am in the process of taping some segments for a TV show on a major network. I am continuing to develop my ‘Thriving Couples Network’ for couples who want to gain simple techniques and proven strategies to have an even better relationship.

I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity and representation in the entertainment industry matters. It is a big deal when you can see someone who has the same skin color, sexual orientation, gender, cultural background, hair texture, height, weight, age and spiritual makeup as you. It makes one feel empowered to live in their authentic sense of self and feel like they do not have to fit in with the mainstream culture. Lastly, it leaves an unforgettable imprint in the minds and hearts of our children who one day may desire to walk in the same lane. This is why I am very intentional about wearing my natural, curly, thick hair in the media. This affects our culture because we are breaking the mode of what people have viewed as status quo for so long.

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

1) Do extensive research on the culture, race and history on their target audience and who they are trying to reach to avoid issues of backlash like with Gucci and H&M

2) Continue to cast roles, hire and pay individuals based on their worth

3) Stop being afraid to portray people, places and ideas that go against mainstream culture

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You will hear “no” more than you hear “yes.” All people see are the wins. No ones sees all the emails that go unresponded that I send out, sleepless nights, tears, the failures and the times when I wanted to quit.
  2. Get good at saying “no”- It is not about being mean, but it is about protecting your own peace and mental health. Do not overextend yourself by trying to accommodate what everyone else wants and needs you to do.
  3. Have an amazing therapist on standby- I am a firm believer that every therapist needs a therapist. So I make therapy a part of my world. I am human too. There are times in my life where I may be going through something difficult that I need to work through. For example, there was a recent time in my life where I experienced 3 deaths within 60 days. Therapy was an integral part of my healing process of dealing with loss.
  4. Not everyone will like you and that is okay- I have heard celebrities say not to look at the comment sections and I made the mistake of doing so after being on The Doctors multiple times. I saw comments from people talking about my physical appearance to the content I discussed. It made me feel sad at first, but then I realized that there will always be people who do not like you no matter what you do.
  5. Implement self-care consistently- Fridays are what I classify as my “self-care days.” This is where I purposely do not answer emails, take phone calls or do any work-related activities. I tend to go to the beach, be by myself and just reflect on the good things in life instead of all that is going wrong.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would highly recommend implementing self-care days and setting boundaries for yourself and for others. Often times, we try to be all things to all people at all times. That is a recipe for disaster and burnout. Try saying “No!” more times than say “Yes!” It will do wonders for your sanity, while simultaneously informing others that you prioritize yourself so you will not have to ever worry about pouring from an empty cup.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be around prioritizing mental health and reducing the stigma around getting professional help. No one can afford to ignore their mental health. There isn’t one group of people who need it more than another. If we all do our part to maintain our own mental health daily, the world would be a better place.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I was facilitating a group of couples with strengthening their marriage with relationship building activities one weekend. My now business partner, Wendy Talley, and her husband were one of the couples there. After spending countless hours having fun and providing them with invaluable experiences, Wendy pulled me to the side. She attempted to connect with me about starting a private practice for mental health services. I was not licensed at the time, but knew I wanted to eventually have my own business and create an additional stream of revenue for myself. I had countless conversations with Wendy after that and she repeatedly told me she saw something unique in me. I had no clue what she was referring to, but clearly she was right on target. She has a keen eye for pulling out the greatness within people. Her persistence developed my path to being a well-known therapist, international speaker, best-selling author and TV personality. So, I always say that I owe my whole career to Wendy. She saw something special in me when I didn’t even see it within myself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is probably a combination of things that I have heard others say over the years. It is “Take up space! Someone in the world is in need of the very thing that you have to offer.” This has been my personal mission statement since the beginning of my career. I have decided to never dull down who I am and consistently show up to change lives. You never know who is watching you and how it is affecting their life. I continue to receive endless confirmations from my followers and supporters that something I have said or done has shaped their lives for the better. It is those random comments that show up on the days when I want to give up that helps me to keep going.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

It would be Oprah Winfrey without a doubt! I have studied her and followed her career all these years.I am in awe of her heart, business moves and her capacity to take up space to create opportunities for people who look like me. It would be a dream come true to meet her in person.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow @KiaundraJackson on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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