Community//

Rising Star Cheryl L Allen: “I’m of the opinion that we as a society are only as strong as our weakest members; Benefiting those who have no voice is therefore not a selfless act at all”

In my late 20’s, I spent four years working in homes for abused and neglected children. In those four years, I learned more about humanity than I ever have before or since, coming to understand both the best and worst of what people can be. Although each of these kids come into care with their […]


In my late 20’s, I spent four years working in homes for abused and neglected children. In those four years, I learned more about humanity than I ever have before or since, coming to understand both the best and worst of what people can be. Although each of these kids come into care with their own backstory, overwhelmingly I noticed something about most of them that to this day, makes me incredibly sad. Most of them come into care with what few humble possessions they have stuffed into garbage bags. Garbage bags, as if these kids need even more societal reinforcement that their things, and them by extension, are worthy of little more than trash! I’m of the opinion that we as a society are only as strong as our weakest members. Benefiting those who have no voice is therefore not a selfless act at all. I would LOVE to partner with a suitcase or duffel bag manufacturer to provide kids in foster care something better than just a trash bag to haul their possessions from place to place. Perhaps it can be modeled on the Tom’s Shoes model — people who purchase a bag can then donate one to kids and care. What I love about this idea is that it is scalable and subtle. It doesn’t change the world, but what it does it very subversively give these children some hope and some self-confidence. That small act of dignity and kindness in an otherwise harsh and unpredictable world can turn a whole situation around for a child. I’ve seen it too many times to believe otherwise.


As a part of my series of the rising stars in popular culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl L Allen. Cheryl is a freelance author and the writer of two feature-length screenplays, “Scattering Pappy” and “The Last Light in Vegas” as well as “Child of Wind and Water”, a collection of poetry. Formerly, she has held roles both behind and in front of the camera, conducting interviews, lining up talent, voice-over work, script supervision, post-production and distribution.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I fell in love with the written word at a young age. My mom would read stories to me from the time I was a small child. I caught on very early on that words were the key to both educating me about the world I lived in and helping me to escape it. I quickly understood that in the right hands words could help me find meaning for complexities within myself. By the time I reached second grade, it occured to me that there were people who devoted themselves strictly to bringing words to life. I knew then that I wanted to be one of those people.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

For me, my most interesting story is the one that hasn’t been written yet!

In all seriousness, what defines interesting? Much like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. Everything is interesting to me. I enjoy conversations with people, especially if you can get them to drop the mask and share with you on some deep and personal level what they are thinking — the kinds of things that keep them up at night, their fears and dreams and hopes and vulnerabilities. Those real moments come to you when you are willing to let them unfold, and for me, that is where the magic happens. That connection- that spark-is a beautiful thing for me. As a writer and an interviewer, I have had the occasion to encounter it in many ways and subsequently, find a way to turn both other people’s pain and other people’s passion into art.

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?

My spouse Chris and I had a cable access TV show called “The 502 Revue”. I once badly bungled the name of a local band I was interviewing on camera. They were cool about it, but I could tell it rankled them-and it should have. That taught me to do better research. Not knowing who you are dealing with is a tremendous lack of respect.

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

I’ve just completed “The Last Light in Vegas” my second full-length feature screenplay. It is an indie-fantasy-drama about an entitled Wall Street executive who learns as his plane departs for Vegas to celebrate a bachelor party that he may have a terminal illness. What unfolds next is a quest to find the humble street light on the edge of town that compels him. In so doing, he is forced to come to terms not just with the fact that he may be dying, but the way he’s lived his life.

That aside, I have a half dozen or so other full-length feature screenplays in various stages of development.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

See, here’s the thing: At this time, there are over 7 billion souls on this planet and every single one of them have a story to share. All of those stories are worth hearing and knowing. There isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t have something they can teach me if I’m humble enough and quiet enough to listen. If nothing else, someone can be a bad example. For the record, I want to hear them all.

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

Three tips, actually. The first is to nurture yourself and all the reasons you do what you do. Take time to take care of yourself and those you love. Self-care is not selfish. Healing is not selfish. Surround yourself with the people who pour back into you what the world takes out. It is vastly important to the creative process that you do just this.

The second is this: Grace. We are all way too hard on ourselves and sometimes other people.

Lastly, creativity can be sparked by just about anything if you are paying attention. Some of the greatest works of art are inspired by the most mundane events.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

In my late 20’s, I spent four years working in homes for abused and neglected children. In those four years, I learned more about humanity than I ever have before or since, coming to understand both the best and worst of what people can be. Although each of these kids come into care with their own backstory, overwhelmingly I noticed something about most of them that to this day, makes me incredibly sad.

Most of them come into care with what few humble possessions they have stuffed into garbage bags. Garbage bags, as if these kids need even more societal reinforcement that their things, and them by extension, are worthy of little more than trash!

I’m of the opinion that we as a society are only as strong as our weakest members. Benefiting those who have no voice is therefore not a selfless act at all.

I would LOVE to partner with a suitcase or duffel bag manufacturer to provide kids in foster care something better than just a trash bag to haul their possessions from place to place. Perhaps it can be modeled on the Tom’s Shoes model — people who purchase a bag can then donate one to kids and care. What I love about this idea is that it is scalable and subtle. It doesn’t change the world, but what it does it very subversively give these children some hope and some self-confidence. That small act of dignity and kindness in an otherwise harsh and unpredictable world can turn a whole situation around for a child. I’ve seen it too many times to believe otherwise.

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

No one owes you anything.

As someone who is trying to break in a very tough business, I often have professionals, friends, family members or people I know whom I press into service. Sometimes I don’t hear anything back because, well, I’m not the center of the Universe. I just have to deal with that. People give you what they can, and often when it is convenient for them to do so. I can’t claim to be an ounce different and until I can, I can’t criticize that.

If you want it, earn it.

Who inspires you? Who teaches you? Do you learn better from your failures or your successes? What makes you press on? You can teach anyone just about any craft but if that person doesn’t have fire in the belly it is empty knowledge. Passion. It matters.

Own your fallibilities.

Making your peace with your own personal demons is so important. (I’m the best at wrestling them all the way down and then when everyone is good and well bloody, offering them a sandwich. I know this about myself.) I know exactly what I’m good at and where I need improvement and mentorship. When it comes to writing, I’m terrible at self-editing. I mitigate that where I can, but that isn’t always a fixable trait. Honestly owning your own limitations is the key in knowing yourself and succeeding sometimes in spite of yourself.

Sometimes the Universe tests you to see how badly you want it. Keep pressing on.

If I never made a penny on a word I ever wrote, I would still write. I have no choice. That said, I have spent my life throwing myself headlong into hurricanes and I don’t see that stopping until the day I die. Maybe I’ll push through and maybe I will not, but if I don’t, it will never be because I didn’t keep pushing.

Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.

That phrase is so cliche, like one of those motivational posters you read — but there is truth in it. I’m going to keep getting up as long as I can.

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

Jack Keruoac: “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” I can’t write just a paragraph on these eight words. Let’s just say it is a mantra for me.

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?

In a word, everyone. My parents, my children, my spouse, my friends — certainly. But some of my biggest achievements have come just because I won’t give adversity the upper hand. I will let it knock me down. I will let it impart wisdom. And then I’m going to out- stubborn it after I’ve learned from it what I need to.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 see this. 🙂

If I had had the occasion to complete this interview just a year ago, I would have said the late great Anthony Bourdain. It’s been almost a year, and even now I can’t go back and re- watch any of his work. His voice, it is still just too painful. What he taught me is that this world is both big and small, and to face all of it, macro and micro, boldly — with understanding, acceptance, humility, a little bit of sass and an open heart.

The best way to honor his legacy is to follow his example. Tony sat across from both king and pauper and made it a point to learn something from each of them. And because he would, so would I.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: facebook.com/skeamela

Twitter: N0V8TIVE1

Gmail: [email protected]

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Purpose//

Power to the People Who Care About Other People

by Jessica Lohmann
Community//

Mental Health Champions: “Why therapists should be in therapy as well” With Psychotherapist Ruthie Kalai

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.