Actor | Blogger | Photographer | Writer | Director | Worship Leader
First day of Fall. I've dreaded this day all Summer- mostly because Summer time is my absolute favorite season of the year, however, I'm conflicted though, because I also love everything about fall. Today, I sit at a nice-local urban coffee shop in Chicago, with my charcoal coffee that was made just right and my bagel that is as dry as this tinder date across from me. As I am reflecting at the moment, I have to recognize what I'm feeling.
I feel happy, at peace, excited about what's to come, grateful, but I also recognize that I no longer carry the burden of stress, confusion, doubt, or frustration. There's a calmness about today that makes me have this butterfly-like feeling in my stomach. I know I have ways to go, but I am immensely proud that I am learning to vocalize/write what I'm feeling and give myself the opportunity to be vulnerable about that. Something about that brings me a tremendous amount of peace and joy. I am constantly taken back, every time I realize how much things can change, with time. Happy. I wasn't always, actually, I took it for granted more times than I can count. In some cases, I didn't even realize it. Hiding behind a happiness that was not only unknown to me, but it became a front-a borrowed facade. Genuine and honest happiness is what I craved, how come that was so hard to find? Is it because we make it hard for ourselves to experience it? Maybe we haven't found happiness in where we currently are. Everything I experienced or did only manifested a short-term happiness that was like my coffee. I enjoyed it for a moment, but then it was gone as quick as it was made; Almost like cables for a car battery, needing to be jumped by something or someone so that it can be re-charged just enough, to keep going again.
Deep, huh? Keep reading. In a prior season I once resented, but now cherish, felt like I was getting pushed off of a cliff into the roaring waves-being yanked every direction with zero clarity. Clueless about life, purpose, decisions, just trying to survive, though drowning became apart of life. Joy. Sometimes we seek things for areas of our life that only seem to satisfy, but do not fulfill. Love. Something we allow without truly knowing and accepting His love first. Peace. Caught in the waves of depression, fear, doubt and anxiety, failing to turn to the one who can truly set me free. This season was one in which was led by lack of faith. My relationship with God was not stable, though I fooled myself into thinking otherwise. One thing that was revealed to me through prayer was, Seasons are only temporary. They change and so do we. That's just how good God is. Even though we go through battles, where we encounter a variety of mountains that reside in our way, He still brings us out of the pit with mercy and grace that is never ending. This new season I have made it to has already become the best one yet. This morning I had an audition for an NBC TV show, I got cast in a Christian TV series I cannot wait to announce soon, tomorrow I have another audition for a film and this week I have a self-tape audition for another. I also found myself turning down a role in another film last week, due to my cup overflowing. This year I got signed with a Christian Talent Agent; waited 11 years for this moment. For the first time ever, I've arrived at a place where I feel I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I also feel like I found myself as an artist in my own pocket and have grown to be confident in myself, my talent and the work that I do, while being comfortable in my own skin for a change! Thank you 8 weeks of self care, new and healthier routines, and a gym membership. Anyone who knows me understands that I chase after my dreams in a relentless pursuit. However, God does not care about your way, He cares about His way. We cannot do this thing on our own. Sometimes we have to go around the block a few times so we can head the lesson He is trying to teach us. Then we get to that, "Ohhh, I should've listened the first time," moment.
Zachariah 4:6- "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."
See when you stop obsessing over things and give it to God, you'll not only have peace, but you'll let him do what He said he would do. Hold onto the promises of God! I petition things to Him and I trust that He knows the desires of my heart. 2020 is about to be the best year yet. I declare it over you! Opportunity, favor, clarity and peace! Seasons don't last forever. Be encouraged, do NOT give up!
Galations 6:9- "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Opportunity. As I sit at my desk, catching up on some much needed personal work, I came across this photo online. It resonated so much with me, mostly because we all can relate to the wait. Just saying that word alone, makes my mind race with a plethora of thoughts and feelings. Waiting is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to do. I remember the days I spent growing more impatient with the process of constantly waiting. There are times I still struggle with obtaining enough patience to just get out of the way and trust that the Lord's timing is always perfect.
There were times in my life where I had my phone strapped to my side everywhere I went, waiting for that one phone call. As an actor, there are countless submissions and auditions I've done and every single time, I would reach a place where I couldn't tolerate waiting for an answer. Am I gonna land that audition? Will I book the role? When is my agent going to contact me? So many concerns, thoughts and feelings that inevitably led to a constant experience of self-doubt, discouragement, demoted self-worth, and so much more. I realized I wasn't being fair to myself during those times where I'd allow people to dictate my career, aspirations and many of the things I listed above. When we wait on opportunity, it puts us in a position to be told we either are or are not good enough. This inspired me to go out and create opportunity for myself. If I can create work that I'm passionate about, work that has a positive message and exemplifies what I stand for, then I can actually have a hold over the things that seemed ever so distant. So what did I do? I began writing scripts. Pushing out any negative thought on how this wouldn't work, I simply sat myself at my desk whenever I could and from there, everything started to flow. I actually look forward to waking up everyday, knowing that there was something that stirred up the passion within me. In 2017, I held writing sessions with my team and we eventually finished our first independent feature film. In 2018, from summer to fall, I felt inspired to write an emotional drama film about grief. Finding myself at my desk yet again, I felt the same inspiration, passion, and love stirring up in me to just create-whatever that looked like. That was when my original short film "A Taste of Change," was born.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to become so stagnant when things don't go our way, or even when things simply aren't looking up for us. If people are telling you no, or there are doors that aren't opening for you, work on the right doors! Pave your own path to do what you love and stand in that specific lane in order to show people what you're capable of doing. Don't allow yourself to stay in the waiting game, make opportunity for yourself and go WIN. I'm officially on my 3rd original script and I can't tell you how happy it makes me. Being here was never an option, it was a choice. Although the odds were against me, there was a moment of pure bliss, where I no longer allowed my path to be dictated by the discouragement, rejection, and negative opinions of others. I had one thought: MAKE IT HAPPEN. When you are aware of what you carry inside, others will eventually witness and become convinced. Convince them with what you already knew! I admire the many latino artists that have gone before us and carved their own path, paving the way for us. There are people counting on us to that too.
Here are some key points that helped me along my journey and they still continue to:
1.) Understand Who You Are!
You are amazing. You are gifted. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Know your worth and speak positive affirmations to yourself.
2.) Understand Who's you are!
God hand crafted you in HIS image and bought you with a price. Act like it! Because we were made with a promise, we know we have purpose and destiny on this earth.
3.) Believe in What You Offer!
You have what it takes, you know you do! Stand confidently in what you carry inside. Don't allow fear to be a set back, allow it to become a stepping stone used to overcome. You were made for this.
4.) Step Out of Your Comfort Zone!
In order to show people that you have what it takes and more to pursue whatever your heart yearns for, sometimes you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. For example, I wanted to be apart of a musical-given that it was one of my long-time goals as a performer. I was terrified to audition and sing in front of people. I took it as an opportunity to overcome my fear of musical theater. Not only did I have to sing for one audition but for another one, I had to go through a dance call audition that was so intense, but it was the most fun I have ever had. Was it easy? Absolutely not! Worth it? Yes! Even though It was probably the worst audition I’ve done, it meant the world to me that I made the courageous leap to get on that stage and take a step in the right direction to conquer my fears. A friend told me once, "Sometimes you have to trust fall with yourself and learn so you can grow!"
5.) Remain Open!
Life throws so much at us and when pursuing a career or dreams, things out of our control or even unexpected situations occur. Remain open and receptive.
6.) Promote Peace & Positivity!
Out of everything that is currently taking place in our nation right now, we could use more peace and positivity. What you give out is what you get in. Be peaceable and don't allow yourself to have a negative mindset in addition to negative words. God calls us to love like He does. It goes a LONG way!
7.) Be Decisive, But With Wisdom!
Be clear about your decisions. Have wisdom about the choices that have to be made for the opportunities that arise. Pray about everything so that you don't choose something that takes you on a detour. Have patience and faith that God ALWAYS has a plan and he most certainly knows what He's doing. He never fails, so seek Him for answers.
You got this!
Limitations. For me at least, this has been a fear of mine, for many years. I always felt like I could not live my life in a box, full of limitations-both myself and people, have put on me. I've always known that I had this drive of creativity, burning inside of me. So many things I aspired to do and yet, I still questioned how I would get there. My blog is all about honesty, which leads me to say this. I never had college in the forefront of my priority list, getting a big boy job, wasn't something I focused on either. As I reached the end of of high school journey, I began to be so overwhelmed by the thoughts of not being good enough; failing to be who everyone around me expected me to be. I have to submit to colleges, find a decent internship, get my degree, finally get hired at a professional job, where I can settle down for the rest of my life...Sounds good, right? Like the normal thing we should do, however, I still found myself, battling with it all. Who says I have to do all of those things, just to succeed in life? Everyone has their own path and we all have our own dreams. So why is there a standard that is set before us, where we are expected to follow suit with what has been in affect for years?
I don't want to fall into this category and cycle, that places me in a box -in which it would not allow me to be successful in expressing myself, creatively- through what I love to do. I believe in pursuing education, I love learning and gaining new knowledge in different areas, so for those who are on the journey to obtain your degrees, or have already, that is something to be so proud of! I wanted to go to college on my time, on my terms. Not because people told me to go. I waited two years before I found myself on campus. It was both the greatest and most challenging time of my life. Going to classes and walking around campus, I became appreciative of the opportunity of growth. It brought me to a point of realizing how I was becoming a bit stagnant. Opportunities began opening up and I ended up at a crossroads, to choose between my dream or the path that is safe and expected. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was also not one I regret. I chose to pursue my dream of becoming an actor, continue working for my own photography business, finding the niche in my journey along the way. I haven't looked back since. Was it easy? No. Was it painful, yes. More than I care to admit, I battled with the insecurity of comparing myself to those around me. This made me feel incredibly minute in this world, but there came a point in my life, where I came to the realization, that I am simply on my own path. My journey. During this particular season in my life, I was reminded how unique God created me and that what he planted inside of me, was far greater than any negative thought that would arise.
Recently, as I reflected on myself and last year, I felt discouraged. I didn't accomplish many of my goals, for a year I didn't put much effort into my dreams or aspirations as a whole...All of these regrets started to become such a burden, but it also challenged me with the statement, "Did I do enough?" My answer was, no. That hurt. To be frank, I felt as though I lost all motivation, the sight of my purpose and objective within my goals, grew further in the distance. My days became a repetitive pattern of going with the motions, with no change occurring. Not much effort went into auditions, the thought of bettering my craft wasn't on top priority and yet, I didn't do a thing about it. Did I throw 2018 down the drain? I was determined to make my goals clear, but also verbally affirm the attainable ones, that I wanted to accomplish in 2019. The new year arrived and I still found myself consistently going through the motions with a lack of effort, passion and motivation. Who was this new person that looked back at me in the mirror? His zeal for life, happiness and ambition for his dreams somehow, were now hanging on a thread. One night, I chose to sit at my desk- as soon as I arrived home from work and write down all of the things I did in 2018. Reminding myself of all of the incredible things I had the privilege to experience, I had seemed to have forgotten about. Underneath the negative thoughts, laziness, and unhappiness, there were all of these amazing memories that rose back to the surface and I was genuinely in awe. I traveled so much in 2018, auditioned for some pretty awesome projects, completed post-production on my original feature film AND premiered it to a private screening, with an amazing live audience-filled with family, friends and supporters.It took an entire year to accomplish something I thought wouldn't ever happen. One thing I learned throughout this process, sometimes God takes us away from what we've been working around the clock for, so that we can realize that He has to come first. My prayer life wasn't the best, I was controlling every aspect of my life, rather than allowing Him to guide and speak. This past weekend, I went downtown for a day with my cousin, where I was able to clear my mind and to be honest, it made me feel like myself again. Happy, adventurous, trying out new places and being surrounded by a community of people, I like to call, my tribe. I didn't have a schedule, I wasn't in a rush for a change and the cycle of my daily life schedule, was non-existent. When I got home, I felt re-inspired, motivated again, my passion and zeal for life was reignited, just by simply stepping away from the pattern and complacency.
After an audition today in the city, I drove to an urban coffee shop-where I sit here with my latte, planner, laptop and music. Stress isn't a factor, and my to-do-list is being checked off, one thing at a time. Working on my new original screenplay edits, reading a book, finishing this blog, answering emails for some big meetings for the next steps in my career; this seems to make me feel like I am that 16 year old boy, who has so much desire and passion for Jesus, joy, people, & dreams. Sometimes, you just have to patiently wait on God to move, mold and shape you, so that when you come out at the end of the tunnel, you have learned some valuable lessons during the pruning process. In the next coming weeks and month, I will be preparing for my audition for a lead role in a new theater production, which I'm so excited about-mostly because I want to get back on stage! I will begin shooting my new original film, starring as lead and I can't wait to tell this raw and emotional story. What I'm trying to say is, don't give up, pray, stay positive, don't take your agenda too seriously. Break out of the cycles, we put ourselves in. If there are no limitations in Christ, then there are most certainly no limits in what His creation can do.
"Life is full of ups and downs, the trick is to enjoy the good times and have the courage to go through the bad ones. Without the downs, the ups wouldn't mean anything." -Unkown.
On a Wednesday night in the middle of summer, I didn't quiet expect the message I saw upon opening my email. Especially shy a few hours after I had just found out I was cast as a lead in a new Independent Feature Film, being shot in Chicago this summer. To be frank, I was on cloud 9, because I needed the good news that day. Though I was experiencing a moment of happiness and accomplishment, that all went out the window as I read the words, "You are unfortunately being dropped from your talent managers roster". If you're an actor reading this one day, you know how terrifying receiving those words can be. I sat there for a few minutes, letting the words I just read, register. As artists, we face rejection on a constant basis, but this rejection somehow seems different. What will it mean for my career? How long will it be until I am able to obtain a new manager? All of the negatives began to pollute my thoughts. Trust me, I vented to some actor friends of mine and they reassured me that everything will be ok. Sometimes, that's all you really need to hear. I've learned that rejection is simply apart of life, but what I've also learned to do: Take rejection, as an opportunity. More than often, we're so prone to jumping straight to the negatives-allowing ourselves to fall into a place of discouragement and complacency. Rather than allowing ourselves to be victims of defeat, change your paradigm!
Maybe we face rejections because:
A.) God has something better.
B.) God is trying to teach us something.
C.) God could be protecting us.
Rejection isn't always a bad thing. so steer away from becoming a victim of it. Take advantage of the opportunity to build character, grow and look forward to whatever comes next.
idea of getting into a relationship, just to "be in one". Our generation today have forgotten what the true meaning of a relationship really is; Love. I believe that this is due to the fact that we do not not know what love really is, because we haven't experienced real love. I was in a committed relationship about 3 years ago, but something didn't quite feel right about it. Overtime, temptation REALLY began growing to the point where I found myself trying to justify why potentially allowing certain things to happen was ok. I made the vow to God and to myself, that I wanted to save myself for marriage. Keeping my virginity is a very important and personal decision, that of which, I have worked hard at disciplining myself to be ok with saying NO. Although I decided to Wait until marriage, that did not stop temptation from creeping in, the enemy works in the areas you are most weak. At the time, I wasn't actively praying against temptation, therefore, I found myself in situations where I had a hard time being able to say no and running away from any sinful act. If we're not having sex, then are we really sinning? The answer is YES! If we are allowing our flesh to be in control-in addition to Lust, we are indeed, operating in a sexual spirit that is not of God. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles-which know not God". (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). It is imperative to keep in mind, that adultery begins in the heart, before it becomes physical. I challenge you to answer these questions: What are the motives of your heart & What does it look like?
Everyday I would find myself having this never ending cycle of hesitation, regarding wether or not my ex and I, were meant to be together. I battled with the thoughts of, "Did I get into a relationship just because I missed being in one? Is this only because of a physical attraction or is it spiritual?" Many of these thoughts overwhelmed me to the point where I realized that I had to pray and ask God to end it, if it was not his will. If we're being honest here, I really cared for her and I knew that I sort of loved her in a way, however, after going to God, I started to see that I myself, didn't even know what real love was. How could I love someone, when I didn't even fully love myself? How could I be in love with a woman but not fully love Jesus first? See, at this point, I hadn't allowed myself to completely surrender my life to Christ, therefore, I did not experience God's total love- which resulted in me lacking the knowledge, of what love really is. If God wasn't at the center of my life then, how would he be when I was in a relationship? If I didn't put the things of God on top priority, how would I put a relationship on that same list, after my relationship with Christ? The bible says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30) If you think that right now in you're life, you are not prioritizing your relationship with God, then I highly encourage you to consider the following steps-those of which, I have taken during my experience, in order to allow God to correct those things in me.
1. IDENTIFY & EVALUATE where your relationship with God stands, in this moment in time. My mother always told me that if I can't show respect or love to her, I will not be able to show that to my future wife either. Same thing applies to our christian walk, if you do not love God first and most, you will not truly love anyone else. Do you love God, but deny him by your actions? Are you aware that you may be struggling with temptations of lust, addictions, or seeking marriage for a selfish reason to have sex?
2. FAITH is the step we take toward the Lord without worry. No matter what it looks like, we trust him with our heart and life. If our heart and soul are not already aligned to the word of God, nor committed to his will, how will that enable us to have a heart for commitment with our future spouse? Faith is a necessary factor in the importance of knowing that finding our future spouse is all in God’s perfect timing and not our own.
3. COMMITTED FOCUS for the things of God. If our energy and time are spent by being distracted by the things of this world, we most certainly will not do well with dating. Focus on being committed to God's word and whenever temptation or impatience arises, go before the Lord in prayer to find strength in him and his word as well.
4. ACCOUNTABILITY: Whether you are a man or woman reading this, ensure that you surround yourself with like-minded believers-who will hold you accountable! I've found that by having other like-minded men surrounding me, I am held accountable for my actions. Finding comfort in knowing that I have brothers in Christ who will help pick me up when I fall, makes me stronger. It doesn't stop there, it creates a learning environment for myself to be their brother, who will hold them accountable and pick them up when they fall as well.
5. SUBMIT your heart to God! Alright now this last one included is from the AMAZING book I recently picked up called, 31 Prayers for My Future Wife: Preparing My Heart. "Growing close to God, trusting him with your heart, knowing him, and being known by Him is true intimacy and the very thing that will satisfy you! As you submit you heart to God in prayer, you will see Him move!"
Applying these steps has led me to stand in expectancy, knowing that God will provide the most amazing wife that he created just for me. I don't know about you, but I want to be committed in prayer for my future wife, so that God can protect and prepare my heart for marriage. So God, I pray right now, that instead of jumping into a "just cause", relationship, we ask that you speak to us when the time has come for you to reveal to us, who our future spouse is. We pray that our prayers for marriage will not only prepare us, but protect our hearts, in your name we pray, amen.