As you may know, a part of our tuition consists of activity fees. Various entertainment clubs use that money to host fun events for the students at VCU. Monday, APB hosted a women’s empowerment talk with the lovely, Nia Long. She’s starred in some of my favorite movies and the talk with her made me realize how much of a great person she is. She worked hard to get in the position that she’s in and continues to strive to reach her more of her own personal goals. She’s truly an inspiration to me and so many others.
Throughout her acting career, she faced many obstacles. For example, men were often paid more for their work than women. She explained how this is a major issue in the U.S and needs to be fixed. She explained how some of the men that she would be on sets with were typically paid 10x more than she was. This goes for white women as well. There is a certain privilege that our some of our white counterparts don’t acknowledge. This is still very prevalent in our society today. She also explained some of the discrimination she faced being a black woman in the entertainment industry. Ms. Long told us about specific situation where she wasn’t given a role because her “eyebrows were too [neat].” At the time she was the only black girl auditioning for the role as a cheerleader; her counterparts were Asian and white. She figured they probably were doing this to add some diversity to the line-up. Ms.Long says that she knocked the audition out the park. The casting directors loved her performance which made her think that she definitely got the part. However, she got a call saying the complete opposite. Their excuse was that her “eyebrows were too [neat].” At the time, she just thought it was a very silly excuse (everyone in the audience thought the same when she said it). When she got older, she realized that it was probably just an excuse not to hire a black girl for the role and diversify the show. This is an accurate depiction of how the world is today. I feel as though black people will always get the short end of the stick because of how people perceive us. When we put our foot down and actually stand up for what we believe in we’re seen as “aggressive” and “loud.” Nia understood this perfectly, which is why I really admire her. She wants us all to speak up for what we believe and not apologize for it.
At the very end of the talk, she gave us some very important advice. She said “if it’s been done before, you can do it and better.” This stuck with me because often times we doubt our abilities without even knowing it. If somebody in the past was able to do it, we can too and better. There’s only room for improvement from here on out and that is what I strive for. She also mentioned something about this generation not wanting to work for their success. I agree because often times we want someone to just hand us the keys to success without truly working for it ourselves. I’ll admit, I get lazy sometimes and don’t work as hard as I should. However, I fully acknowledge that if I don’t put the work in now, I’m going to regret it later. I don’t want my life to pass me by.
Overall, I think Nia Long has a beautiful soul and she definitely gave me the motivation to get through this tough week. One thing I would say to you all is, if VCU has events like this, you should definitely go because your tuition pays for it and it is a good way to exhale before the madness of final week takes over.