Empowerment

Empowered Women Empower Women — Bethel Dixon... Wife, Mother, Writer and Television/Film Developer

As promised, our series Empowered Women Empower Women is back and starting 2018 with a bang! 

Our feature is the beautiful and talented Bethel Dixon. Super Woman herself has nothing on this lovely lady! Enjoy reading all about her journey!

1. Tell me about your journey- What’s your story? What inspired you to go into the entertainment industry?  

My journey started as an actress.  From the time I was a child I have always loved the arts.  Storytelling, in particular film and tv, has always completely captivated me.  I was a drama student in high school, then spent a short time studying theater in college before moving to LA to study acting for film and tv. 

When I think back to what inspired me, my mother had an affinity for the arts and exposed us to creative outlets early on…museums, plays, films, and the like.  I grew up sneaking to stay up late on school nights to watch the movies of the week with my Grandmother.  I can vividly remember her reaction to the most emotionally compelling scenes and being mesmerized by how another person’s story can completely grip you.  I felt at home submerging myself in this world and drawing parallels to my own.  Growing up in the 90’s also meant a host of feel good tv shows, comedies, and dramas I devoured.  My Friday night fun was a trip to Blockbuster with my dad.  I’d come home and pop my movie in the VCR and get lost in a story.    I credit those early memories a great deal. Just think about the women around you...your mothers, grandmothers, and aunts…they are all storytellers.  For me, add to that the habesha factor…no one tells a story more dramatically than a habesha Grandmother!  

In addition to the feeling, I was attracted to the platform.  A story has the power to change the world, the capacity to reach multitudes, enlighten, empower, entertain, and so much more.  When you leave a theater you should leave feeling different then you did when you walked in.  You never know how impactful the message within may be to someone else’s life.  That’s powerful and it’s a platform I wanted in on.  

I spent the early part of my young adulthood chasing my dreams as an actress out west.  After getting married, I began taking screenwriting classes with the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program and learned that my love and passion for storytelling did not just exist in front of the camera.  I knew then that I wanted to get my foot in the door on the other side of the camera, where I could have a hand in shaping creative, grow, and simultaneously focus in on developing the tales I want to tell on the personal front in addition.  We need more women and diversity steering creative.  If I can be a vessel to see that to fruition, that makes this journey all the more rewarding.  I got my start in tv programming for Sony Movie Channel, followed by Discovery Channel and eventually moved into tv and film development in true crime, where I have been for the last few years with Investigation Discovery.          

2. What are some of the hurdles you faced when you first started and some that you’re still facing today? 

Starting out, I’d say making the transition to the corporate side was a waiting game.  Getting in at one of the major motion picture studios takes time, and to do so with no contacts on the inside is rare.   I had a strong organizational resume and lucky for me a friend who was working for Warner Brothers at the time had a connect at Sony Pictures and passed my resume on.  From there, it was up to me to nail the interviews and get in the door.  I strived to get past those gates for some years and it finally came to pass, but not without patience and persistence.

Present tense, I’d say striking a balance among all the facets of my life gracefully can at times be a hurdle, but one that is incredibly rewarding. I’m buckled in for the ride, music blasting, windows down. 

Another thought that comes to mind is my natural inclination towards being a more internal person.  Makes me think of a quote that I came across recently.  One of the risks of being quiet is that other people can fill your silence with their own interpretation.  You’re bored. You’re depressed. You’re shy. You’re stuck up. You’re judgmental.  When others can’t read us, they write their own story- not always one we choose or that’s true to who we are”.  Being an INFJ, I’m often floating around in my head in my happy place, and I recognize that in some instances, I have to push myself to connect outwardly as well. 

3. What do you wish people knew more about when it comes to working moms? 

We are super human.  For reals.  We care about every inch of our lives deeply, on all fronts—sometimes so much so that we may sacrifice parts of ourselves in the process.  We may be inundated with the day to day but we haven’t stopped caring about other facets of our lives.  Our social life may slow or shift-- we very much value our relationships and love quality time that reminds us of who we are at our core, outside of the capes we put on every morning.  Priorities are ever shifting and socializing may sometimes look like a play date or 3 birthday parties lined up on the weekend.  

I’d have to add that we don’t have time for shenanigans, to put it bluntly.  If you’re bringing anything other than authenticity, good vibes, or growth to the table, best wishes to you.  We are razor focused on what we’re building within our families, relationships, and careers and we only care to surround ourselves with those qualities.  Our time is very valuable.

Lastly, I’d say know that we value our support systems to the moon and back—it truly takes a village and we appreciate our tribes more than they could ever know.  

4. If there was one thing you’ve done that you could go back in time and change, what would it be?

Everything in my past has brought me into this present moment, from where I stand.  Sure, there are lots of things that in retrospect I know I could have done differently and very likely reached a different outcome, but I take a beat to reflect on them, learn from them, and move on to focus my energy on the future.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I’ll be 37 years young and my kids will be 9 and 7.  Just the thought of those numbers is mind blowing.  I’ll paint this picture abstract.  In 5 years, I see myself having grown as a visionary and in my personal indie pursuits, my motherhood is rising in all its glory and twists and turns, and I am being the best person I can possibly be on all fronts, daughter of the King, wife, mama, individual and all.  I see the fruits of that labor taking form.  

6. How do you manage to balance it all- career/marriage/children? 

I think balance is a constant set of questions I have to continually ask myself, a constant reassessment, and readjustment.  There is no single end all be all answer.  Balancing spiritual, self, marriage, motherhood, career, family, friends and more is a juggling act.  I’ve learned a lot about what this balance means to me since having my son 2 years ago.  Postpartum brought me a great deal of lessons, some not easy.  I’ve learned to be kinder to myself.  I tend to have extremely high expectations of myself in certain areas and overlook the fact that I am human.  It’s okay for me to not get to that book just yet because I’m juggling all of the above including a preschooler and toddler, or one of several personal projects I’ve been wanting to start on for the longest.  I'm learning that it's all about pacing. 

Self-care is kryptonite.  The times I find that my balance feels whole, it’s typically because I’ve made it a point to find time to fit in self-care and pour back in to myself.  Spiritually, prayer and devotion keep me grounded and are my center, my core.  If I’m not connected, I’m unplugged and unbalanced.  

My biggest conduit to balance is my incredible husband, without whom I simply could not even attempt to juggle it all.  In our home, we are truly teammates.  He gives his all and when one of us needs the other, we are there to quarterback, support, and lift each other up.  He shares bath time, story time, play time, cooking, and more in the day to day of our lives.  Having a balanced home has a great impact on feeling as though you are one step closer to reaching a balanced life. 

On the career front, working for a company with great work life flexibility is a huge plus, and at that, one that consistently ranks among Working Mother's Top 100 Companies.  Part of that balance is the fact that my children attend school at the daycare center in the building.  The day to day of drops off's and pick up's are streamlined, not to mention being an elevator ride away if I get a call that someone is not feeling well or something urgent arises pertaining to one of the kids.  It's a balance that I deeply value especially during their youngest years.  When my son was younger, I could go down on my lunch break and breastfeed him if I ever needed to.  That's liquid gold.  Just to have the opportunity, if needed, is invaluable.  The ability to work from home is also a great part of that balance-- whether it's one set day weekly, or if one of the kids is home sick.         

I strive to remember that balance doesn’t necessarily mean that I tackle every single thing every single time, it’s also a feeling and a mental state.  If I’m relaxing on my couch in our cozy little slice of the world watching my kids play so happily, sitting next to the love of my life, and talking on the phone with my grandmother, I can allow myself to revel in the moment even while there's laundry to be folded.  It’s not the end of the world.  You'll get to it.  With the same fervor that you push yourself to be super human, use some of that same energy to allow yourself to exhale.  It will go miles.  The thing about balance is that no matter how aligned you feel, there are always going to be things that will arise unforeseen-- especially with kids.  There will always be elements out of our control, so it's really about what we can control...and that's staying grounded amidst it all. 

A few years ago I was sitting in the audience at Oprah's The Life You Want Tour in DC and remember something so small yet profound.  Oprah was speaking with a guest about making intentional choices to speak positive words over our life and shared how instead of saying "I'm tired", she says "I'm waiting for my second wind".  The phrase may be different for you or for me, but what jumped out at me through this example is that sometimes feeling balanced can also be a result of positive habits and perspective.  A mama's glass is always half full, not half empty.  Yes, balancing the day to day can sometimes be a roller coaster but if for a mere moment it's a mess — remember it's a beautiful mess.   

7. In your eyes, what’s your most significant accomplishment?

My first instinct is my children.  Maya Fantaye and Amare Andre.  They are my pride and joy and without a doubt my most significant accomplishment in life.  Using my body as a vessel to bring them into this world, love, nurture, and protect them is my most glorious feat.  The thing I want to shout the most about from the mountaintop.  Motherhood in all it’s glory and complexity.  I love being a mama.

Moving to LA alone at 21 to chase my dreams with no fear comes in second.  3,000 miles away from my family and friends.  I meticulously planned every step of the process over the course of two years, and when the time finally came for me to head west, off I went.  Although it was everything I ever dreamed of, it wasn’t easy in the beginning.  I missed my family like you wouldn’t believe.  Just prior to leaving, I can remember driving in the car with my Grandmother and breaking the news to her that I would be moving.  She burst into tears over how much she would miss me.  That alone almost made me second guess my decision but I knew if I didn’t spread my wings and fly then, I would regret it.  California holds a truly special place in my heart…I spent my 20’s there, was married there, gave birth to my daughter there, and lived some of the most magical years of my journey under the sun.       

8. What advice do you have for someone that wants to join the entertainment industry?

- Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom.  You learn so much incredible knowledge being a sponge and absorbing everything around you in those early days, it is a time that is incredibly invaluable and necessary to your growth, not to mention a rite of passage of sorts.

- Don’t always try to assimilate.  It’s only natural to sometimes want to "fit in" and mirror your environment, but there is value in the uniqueness of your voice, even when it’s different, especially in storytelling.  Think about your personal brand and the perspective you bring to the table. 

- Mentorship is huge—find someone who embodies the trajectory and qualities you desire to achieve, and build a strong relationship while learning from their direction and guidance. 

- Don’t forget about silent mentors. I may be making the term up, but don’t underestimate the value of those whom you can’t necessarily forge personal relationships with, but whose careers are incredibly inspiring to you.  I have followed the careers of a select group of creatives for a long time, some literally since their very early days and others through their storied successes in the spotlight, because I’m incredibly inspired by their work and their passion.  I’ve watched every online speech I could get my hands on, read every article to study their grind and process, registered mental notes of the inspirational gems they share and more.  These are filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, execs, and more whose work and moves I literally study.  There is so much at your fingertips that you can learn from.  You just have to intentionally cultivate it for yourself. 

- Network across.  Any and everyone is trying to connect with those at the top and if you’re only focused on the suits and ties, you may not even realize the power of those directly beside you.  Your peers are just as hungry as you are, find your tribe and invest in supporting one another.  Your contacts are key.   

- Pour into yourself—join organizations, attend conferences, panels, q&a’s, festivals, what have you.  Genuinely nurture your relationships.  Even when you’re not looking for that next best position, stay in touch, know who’s doing what and moving where, set lunches, and informationals, stay in the know.  

- Don't confuse an amazing opportunity with the right opportunity.  I think this is an industry where it's naturally desirable to want to work with the best of the best.  Just because it's an incredible opportunity doesn't necessarily mean it's the right one for you specifically.  Of course you're bound to learn and grow there, but ultimately if the vision isn't aligned with what you personally desire to achieve through your medium, you have to find where that place is and get there because that's where you'll create the most.      

- Be patient. 

9. What are some empowering words or quotes you often find yourself turning too?

I love my Bible app and bookmark reading plans that push me to continually grow in my walk spiritually.  In addition, podcasts and Ted Talks also serve as a well that I turn to. 

One quote that has really risen to the top for me as of late is the widely known passage by Marianne Williamson.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As were liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

10. Do you have any last words for our readers…?

I hope this read inspires someone who goes on to inspire someone.  Pay it forward, speak your truth, and live in the light.  “Women hold up half the sky.”

I hope you enjoyed reading Bethel's amazing journey and more importantly I hope it has inspired you. Please be sure to stay tuned for monthly featured posts from other empowering women. Contact me if you would like to share your story and empower our readers. As always I'd love to hear from you.

Yours,