Ever wonder what your life would look like if you stepped from behind the mask? You know the nondescript face, the people-pleasing face that helps you conform to others’ perceptions and definitions of you, the face that denies your originality.
Be honest, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there at some point or another. We hide behind the mask each and every time we deny our core character and dim the light on the unique person we were created to be.
For whatever reasons, there are those of us, me included, who would rather fade into the background than let our lights shine brightly. We are comfortable there when the truth is that we should fully embrace who we are and just be ourselves without worrying so much what others think about their limiting expectations. We should stand behind our brand, our uniqueness, with no apologies.
While doing public relations work for the Capital City Black Film Festival, I recently met an amazing man, who ironically didn’t fully realize the force he was behind his brand. He, along with several partners and the film cast, were debuting their new movie “blackhats” at the festival. I had been in contact with him weeks before as he was constantly working “behind the scenes” promoting the movie and feeding me information. During this time it became clear to me this movie was a labor of love for him and, in my mind, I had began to think of him as the official spokesperson.
As it got closer to the event and I began to promote the movie, I began to gather bios and photos of the crew and cast. Oddly, when I searched for him, I came up empty. I mean nothing. Nada! He had a bio and some credits, but not a photo of him to be found. How is that even possible in this day and age of technology?
He had used his film poster on LinkedIn and other social and film sites for promotion of the film, which made sense, but for there to be no physical picture of him anywhere – just strange. For me, it was a red flag. The irony of this situation is that the film poster was of a mask and the “blackhat” in the movie wore a mask.
His independent film is a cyber-thriller depicting a group of extreme gamers connected to an underground hacker community that is being hunted by a hired assassin and the FBI. Thus, all the masks. But all that had nothing to do with the reason why there were no pictures of him.
So I reached out to him about sending me the information he wanted me to use for him for media. He immediately responded with his bio, no picture and a comment that he doesn’t do pictures and that I wouldn’t find one anywhere. I replied with, “I know. What’s up with that?” He informed me because of his looks, his doesn’t take pictures. He also deferred to the director and one of the other producers to serve as lead spokespeople. I let it go for the time being because I was up against a deadline, but believe me, that conversation was not over.
After a month of corresponding via email about his film, I finally met the mysterious man behind the mask, and I called him out on not being fully authentic and transparent about the man he was. I called him out on standing behind the mask.
I said, “It’s time for you to be the face of your business and your brand! I know in your business it’s a lot about looks, but for the side of the business you’re on, it’s more about the creative talent, the charisma and charm. You’ve got all three! So stop worrying and step from behind the lens. You’ll thank me later.”
The next day when I arrived at the festival, I ran into him again and he smiled and told me that he had been photographed. He had been part of a panel discussion that morning where he had allowed photographers and festival goers to take pictures of him. Later that evening after the premiere of the movie, I watched as he stood and posed on the red carpet with his fellow crew members, the amazing cast and others for pictures. And I smiled, thinking from here on out, he will be unstoppable because he is no longer hiding. He’s talented, smart, down-to-earth, real and just extremely fun to be around and hang out with. He is fully honoring the man that he was created to be and I’d like to think I had a little something to do with that.
Now, I don’t know what life has in store for him, but I do believe it will be great whatever it is because he is now inviting the world to see who he truly is. I challenged him. Now, I am challenging myself as well as each of you to step from the shadows and into the spotlight by being and loving who you are. Instead of the nondescript face, let’s choose to be original, exceptional and memorable every day!
Sending lots of love,