Every year, SOURCE360 canvasses Hollywood is search of the biggest and brightest stars in the industry to venture into Brooklyn to talk about the business. In past, we’ve had big Hip-Hop film producers such as Master P and Roxanne Shanté, network executives such as Debra Lee and Thembisa Mshaka and big screen directors like Bennie Boom.

This year was no exception.

As the new season of Power approaches, SOURCE360 secured break-out star Joseph Sikora (also known as Tommy Egan) to talk to the ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ audience about his career. Also on the panel, fresh off their Netflix summer blockbuster was lead actor Eden Duncan-Smith and director Stefon Bristol.  Africa Miranda from The Africa Miranda Show on Facebook moderated the panel.

Here are a few jewels that we took away from this most informative panel:

ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Sikora doesn’t use social media to be political.

The Ozark star stated that he does not address social issues of social media because for him as a white man in this business:

“I don’t use it as a political platform. It is too dangerous for me, especially as a white man. Its too slippery of a slope. If you want to see my social media, you will get to know me the man behind the character. That is mainly what I use it for.”

He continues, “I am mainly accessible on Twitter.” He does however, re-post DL Hughley and his commentary on the world. Even with that, sometimes he gets backlash because of that. So to play it safe, he just spreads his love and humor on social.

Bristol also understands that social media can be a headache. He flatly stated:

“I can’t wait until the day I can delete my social media.”

His co-panelists cracked up.

“It’s fun, but I use it because I need to promote… showing people what I am doing… keeping people in anticipation…. it is distracting… I hate it but I do it because I see people asking me questions like how do I get in and what advice can I give them. And I answer because I was once in their position. But I hate it.” He did add that it is helpful to build your audience and to inform people of the projects that you have done or are doing. Its a necessary evil.

Duncan-Smith shared that she mostly uses social media to inform the community about her passion projects. Currently she is publishing on Instagram information about the leading 26 democratic presidential candidates.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PRESSURE OF THE JOB

Duncan-Smith likes to be with friends and is a strong advocate for self care. She considers self care the little things such as taking a shower in the morning and eating breakfast. She also believes that drinking water and teas can help mellow you out.

“You have to take care of yourself, more than anything because you are the most important person in your life. There is no one more important than you… no employer or employee more important. You need to take care of yourself. No matter what you do. I am in school and also working… and in those little moments when I have a break… I calm down and take a moment. Let yourself have the moment of peace and elation that keeps you driving forward.”

Bristol talked about the pressure of taking the next film.

“The pressure is on.”

He then talked about a scripted that he rejected about a mummy on a slave plantation. And while as a new director, you want to select another project, you can’t just take anything.

He also spoke about the wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, why having a close circle of friends is important for your mental health.

“I have two very close friends that I can go to cry to and they can come and cry to me. And I believe in Jesus.”

PROJECTS

Bristol stated that Spike Lee cursed him out for making a short film about two Black kids robbing a bodega store. He continued:

“I appreciate that because it forced me to really think about the stories that I want to tell. So I think that if I hadn’t asked him [Spike Lee] to be my mentor at Morehouse, going to NYU and having him berate me to make sure I create work that pushes the culture instead of taking a stab at it, I don’t think that See You Yesterday would have been made.”

Sikora also talked about taking just any project.

“Here is a good example. I am almost the same age as Michael Shannon. Michael Shannon and I both come from Chicago. I took every job that came my way. Michael Shannon was strategic. Whose doing better? Michael Shannon with his Academy Award nomination.”

He continued, “Also… I am learning. I was raised to be a worker. I was raised to work with my hands and have a 9 to 5 job… I just am so grateful to be here, and that drives producers and directors crazy. You got the job for a reason… you are good. I could not until recently, find my gravity. And that is important. It is important to have a plan. It is important to stick to your morals.”

Eden also chimed in.

“As a Black female actor, I have to be strategic on the things that I choose. There are a lot of auditions that come our way and they are basically the same. They are basically made to make fun of my demographic. I won’t allow myself to be humiliated on screen or on stage.”

She continued:

“If I don’t agree with what I just read, I will not go out to audition for it. I feel I am in a position to where I telling other Black female stories and if that if that story is being told in a skewed way where it shows a negative side of Black female culture or tries to suppress us or demean us in any way… I can’t bring myself to tell that story or be on that platform, and mass produce that message. So I am very strategic for the things I choose to audition for… not just take.”

The panel was jammed pack with good advice for those interested in breaking into the field. For more, check out the The Source’s Facebook Live of the panel.

Posted by The Source Magazine on Thursday, August 15, 2019