Jackie: Thank you for listening to Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast. My guest today is Lisa Cunningham. Lisa is a motivational speaker, diversity event producer, and LGBTQ influencer. After almost 20 years on the film and video side of entertainment, she pivoted into a successful career and digital media and diversity events for companies that are looking for an edge with content that appeals to diverse communities. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us.
Lisa: Jackie, it's just a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jackie: Of course. So, Lisa, I always like to start by asking our guests to just tell us a little about yourself, whatever you'd like to share about your family or your background or your identity.
Lisa: Jackie, you know what? I am a native of Atlanta and have been in the film industry for longer than I'd probably want to admit. I I'm going to date myself if I, if I say. And I'm just proud to be in Atlanta, in a city that I think is just a hotbed of topics. There's so much going on in the city that relates to social activism, health and wellness, politics, everything. And so for me to be at this kind of epi center, I I'm just loving it to be quite frank. It's never, it's never been a better time to be, than to be an ATLien.
Jackie: That's awesome. So, Lisa, you know, I've certainly done quite a bit of research on you, but just for the excitement of our listeners, can you tell us a little bit about your early career in some of the highlights?
Lisa: You know, it's so interesting growing up in Atlanta, you know, my family wanted me to be an, an engineer and I snuck and changed my major at the University of Georgia, unbeknownst to anyone, and it was a film video major. I think they had only had it for a few years and I came to Atlanta during the summer, got a job at an athletic club and met a guy who was a, you know, production designer. He took me on a music video set, and I like to say from then I was hooked and never left.
You know, my very first video I ever got a check for, it was a whole hundred dollars. I thought it was worth, I was quitting school. You hear me? Jackie? I was quitting school. I said, if I'm going to make a hundred dollars in a day and it was for TLC's, What About Your Friends music video.
Lisa: And we filmed that thing and I was a production assistant. And they gave me that hundred dollars and I said, oh wow, this is, this is where I'll be. But it was just, it was the glory days of that particular side of the industry.
You know, the budgets were astronomical. I mean, just astronomical. So you had all of these bells and whistles to play with. And also I got a chance to see, you know, in that particular instance with groups like TLC, I got to see this kind of female empowerment, right early on in my life, which I think really did help me as time, you know, kind of went on and I kind of, ended up trying to find out who, who I was and what I was, but just seeing that confidence come from groups like that, with those, with those songs that, you know, they said I'm aware of my hat to the back with my pants down real low. That's the kind of girl I am. I said, wait a minute, that's the kind of girl I am too!
Jackie: Ah, that was amazing music and it really was empowering for us as women moving into a genre where, we said what we wanted, right, and we were concerned about what our needs are, right. And music for one of the first times, and I just remember that music changing how I thought about, you know, speaking up for myself. Right. It was amazing.
Lisa: I, you know, and so then I just continued on in that, in that business. And I ended up doing a lot of, with the rappers and I saw that shift, Jackie, you know, it was like, it went from like the happy dance and type, you know, Southern music to the shoot them up, you know? I saw the Master P's of the world, you know, introduce that whole thing.
And I don't know, I stayed in it for many years, but as that, as I'm morphed into working with some of the newer artists, you know, that were a part of that part of the culture, you know, the, the Young Jeezy's of the world. You know the Futures. I mean, these are, these are chart topping international at these, at this point, you know, artists.
And when I was working with them in my last days of doing music videos, I just, you know, there was that thing nagging at me like, is this it? Is this is that, that it, you know? And what I think has been amazing is to see my own kind of story play out as I'm also watching some of these young men and women's stories play out and we just all been growing through the process.
Jackie: Yeah. that's right. That's right,
Lisa: Like I look at Young Jeezy. He's not that anymore. He's Jeezy today.
Lisa: This guy's turning into some sort of model citizen. And so, you know, there's, there's redemption on the other side of all of it, I guess,
Jackie: That's right, that's right. So, Lisa, while you were in that part of the industry, what was the moment or the project or celebrity that you worked with where you said, wow, I have made it.
Lisa: Well, there's a couple of people. I mean, when you do a video for Gladys Knight, you just kind of like, wow.
Lisa: But I think it was, I think it was when, I got the call from Missy Elliott and she had a new artist she wanted to do something with, and I said, well, well, well, Missy, I don't, I don't direct videos anymore.
I don't. She said, oh, no, no, no. I hear if I come to Atlanta, you're the one, you're the one. And we did a couple of wonderful projects together. And I think just, you know, Missy Elliott and just, she, she has such an endearing place in so many people's hearts. So for sure, she was definitely up there on, on my bucket list. So I'm glad I got to work with her.
Jackie: For sure. I love Missy. So Lisa, tell me what caused, what you call, in your life, the remix. Can you tell me a little about, you mentioned it alluded to it just a bit, how did you go from that, right, that industry, that lifestyle to making the change or remix in your life?
Lisa: You know, I won't call the name of the artist, but I was on a set and he happened to also have a television show. And so we were filming a music video while they were filming the television show simultaneously. And while we were doing the behind-the-scenes people for the television show, we're showing that the children were around and what have you.
But this video was about gangster rap. It was about getting revenge on the next group of guys, you know. So there was this one scene where all of these guns were on a pool table. Never forget it. I got physically, I physically, because his son went up and picked up one of the guns I just wasn't prepared for that.
Quite frankly. I believe in anyone's right to bear arms, don't get me wrong, but that right there, wasn't what I, what I think our founders intended. Semiautomatic weapons, that sort of thing. Right, it was not a laughing or joking matter for me. And I went outside, I talked to the director. He also, I was the producer. He was moved, and I know that was one of those pivotal moments. That that started to just etch away at me. I try to tell people this about when you get ready to make big changes, you know, they don't often all happen at once. And I think that that's often-what w what our expectations are, and we need to take that off of the table, take that hard stop out of our, you know, our view, and then we can get to how it's going to really go happen, right.
And so, you know, I mentioned Jeezy's name earlier. There was an instance with him where we were shut down, quite frankly. And shut down meaning that the police officers had told us that that music video had to be shut down for the day and while in the middle of us filming it. And I, and I, and I was talking to the officer after he had talked to one of the producers and I said, officer, what what's going on? And he pulled me to the side. He said, Lisa, he said, this guy right here. He said, we think he has something to do with a dead body. We just found.
Lisa: Think about what I'm saying. Think about that, that was the life I was in, where I would hear things like that. Like, oh, dead body. And I know that's not what I was put on this Earth to do, because in essence, Jackie, every time I stepped foot on one of those sets, I was glorifying that whole lifestyle. I mean, it's just, it's a reality. I'm not knocking it. I never, I never take what I did. I never, you know, I've got dear friends that are still in that industry, that are great people that, you know, upstanding citizens. And all of that, but I just knew that that's just not where I want it to be anymore.
Jackie: Yeah, got it. And then Lisa, tell us a little about how you made that move, right? So many of us get to a point in our lives and our careers, whatever, where we're like this isn't where I need to be anymore. How did you go through that process of making that pivot and remixing that?
Lisa: Well, that's why, cause I come from the music industry. That's why I do call it the remix, because if you've ever thought about the concept of the remix, it's a song that is a derivative of another record, right? So I will never forget years ago, there was a group that was performing at a, at a showcase we were having with the radio station.
I was with one group and they had a hot record and they would just perform and everybody was all woo. And then this next little group came on these girls and they start singing this song to slow tempo song. And they kept saying, they were like, no, no, no. When he say, yeah, yeah. I can't sing anyway, this poor group was this close, Jackie to getting booed. This, you know, you can hear the rumblings of a boot, you know, it's like, it's like, okay. And somebody had the, the, the, the foresight to say, put on the remix.
Lisa: They put that remix on and that tempo went up and it was Destiny's Child. And the song was No, no, no, remixed by Wyclef. The crowd went crazy and we see what ultimately happened with that group.
Lisa: And so what I like to talk about the remix is that sometimes in your own personal life, you're going to have to collaborate with different people that you haven't collaborated with before. Sometimes you're going to have to slow down and sometimes you're going to have to speed it up. You're going to have to figure out all of the different avenues in order to get you to what your ultimate intention is.
And like I said earlier, I think a lot of us think it's supposed to be some magic pill that we can take or some instant thing that's going to happen. It's just not going to happen that way, but it is going to happen by you getting outside of your comfort zone. Everybody in my life told me, Lisa you're the music video queen Lisa.
This is what you do for a living. Lisa, you're never going to do anything else. An MTV producer told me, Lisa never go out and do anything else but music videos, imagine that and here I was stuck with that identity and not knowing how to remix it. But once I got that intention in my spirit, once I got that intention, so deep down, man, things just started happening in Jackie.
And I mean that in all sincerity, just little baby steps started happening because when you have the real intention and I want to say this to your viewers, your listeners, when you have the real intention, your barriers will start to reveal themselves. That's what I didn't know at the time, because I thought my barrier was one thing and I figured out what it really was.
I said, oh, okay. So I had this wonderful client, the Atlanta voice newspaper was doing their 50th anniversary and they said That they needed a little video done. So I did this video almost as a tribute, almost for nothing, right. give back. And this video was to be played at a big gala. They were having with the mayor and all sorts of people at the time.
I didn't realize until that particular event, what my aha moment was going to be and, and what was holding me back. You see, I was scared to go to that event, it was a community event full of old Atlanta and new Atlanta. And I didn't realize that I was scared to be around the old Atlanta people because you all can't see me on this podcast, but I'm what they call a masculine presenting Black woman.
And I still go by woman, but if you look at me, you're going to question it. And I was scared to be in that traditional old school environment. I didn't know I belong there, Jackie. And I got the courage to go in that door, and when I went in that door, the love that I felt from everyone in that room and the, and the, the editors, the owner's husband came up to me. And the first thing he said, Excuse me. How do you identify? He's over 60 years old.
Lisa: Now this is getting into the diversity angle. You, see what I mean? This is a man over 60 years old asked me, first of all, how do you identify? I told him, I said, you could call me. I say, you could call me she, her.
He said, girl, you just did your thing with that video. And I almost couldn't keep the tears from streaming down because of that acceptance and knowing that it was going to be okay, that might've been about five or six years ago and since then it has just been gangbusters. I'm sitting here talking to you. I'm sitting here talking to you today, Jack. Jackie.
Jackie: I'm sitting here talking to you. So I'm, I'm excited about this, you know? Lisa that is so important, you know, and just how you described that. There are so often when, when many of us, when most of us feel like we might not fit in and taking that time for people, for organizations to, to take that time and be intentional about embracing other people. All right. Is so important. It's more important than people think, right. Especially with organizations, when they're thinking about the bottom line and what's going on in marketing and you know, how are sales doing? You're not thinking necessarily about people with the, the time and attention that you should, but wow. What a difference. And, you know, because that man was 60, I love that. It just goes to show you that you can lean into the DEI conversation. I love it.
Lisa: Any age, yes indeed.
Jackie: So Lisa, since we're on the topic of diversity and inclusion, let's talk about why it's important for organizations to prioritize it. And from your perspective, how do they begin that? How do they start that journey?
Lisa: Let's start it off with one of my favorite quotes by Vernae Myers. You've probably heard that one. Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance, but belongingness is being able to dance like no one is watching. Now, if we start from that right there, if we start from knowing how women feel in the workplace, how Blacks feel in the workplace, how disabled feel in the workplace.
But if we start from that center of belongingness, as managers, as VPs, as HR, all of these different categories, if they lean in to that one phrase first, then we can start to broaden out into this bigger picture, which I feel like, and people might get mad at me for saying this, is a conversation that's been hijacked by the experts.
This conversation is not an expert’s conversation. This conversation is for you and me and everyone to have. Don't never call. I, first of all, I'm not an expert, but if I did get to be an expert, don't ever call me an expert in this, because we are all cold collaborating on what this whole DEI conversation even looks like.
So I think we start from that. We start from giving each other grace. See, these are fundamental humanity things we don't want to talk about first. We're going to start talking about ERG, wait a minute, stop.
Jackie: Absolutely. And Lisa, that's right.
Lisa: We're not to the ERG group yet. Let's see what's up with the hiring managers headspace, because you got these guys and gals and especially guys like, think about it in text. I've had people talk to me. One woman was telling me the other day that she was a recruiter in the tech space and, and she was trying to hold her, you know, organizations accountable for hiring more women.
And they, they ended up having to answer to why they weren't hiring more women. So in their, in their exit from disqualifying a candidate, they had to say why she had been disqualified to get to the real inherent biases. That makes me feel uncomfortable thinking about that process for that recruiter.
Lisa: I feel a little uneasy about that, but then I say to myself, maybe that's what's needed. Because if you think that there's a, there was a lean in study last year and I think they've updated it. And so I don't know if the numbers are better or worse, but we're talking about, I think around 77% of our white brothers and sisters believe that they are allies in the workplace. Okay, but only 26% of Black women believe that they have allies in the workplace.
what kind of weird disparity is that? And how do we close that gap?
Jackie: They said, that's a great question. And you know, I think that where that stems from is a lot of times people think well, I want other people to succeed, right. And I'm not going to say anything. I'm maybe not going to do anything, but in my heart, I want people to succeed. Right. So then they, they check the ally box for themselves, which you can't do.
Lisa: You cannot, you cannot be a self-proclaimed ally.
Jackie: Correct. That's exactly right. But they're check, checking that ally box for themselves, but what they're not doing is speaking up in the meetings and saying culturally diverse person, what do you think? Right? Simple things like that. Not allowing those people to be talking over, right. Pulling them into those meetings that they sometimes think, well, I, that's not my meeting that meeting's not for me.
No, you've got something to add and contribute. That action piece is that is, I think that disparity between the way people feel and the way they think the world should be and how they're actioning on it. So that's, that's exactly rightly Lisa, that's such an important.
Lisa: It really is. And we, and, you know, I believe in a lot of measures that get us cross the aisle, also talking to each other so that. We start to find that common ground, you know, that phrase, we're a lot lighter than we are different, but we can't really find that out all the time on these zoom calls, but I've been really intentional since this whole pandemic thing started.
If you look right here, I try to have a very warm and inviting background. For those of you who can't see, I've got some wonderful imagery going on my TV in the background. I've got, you know, my candles and I always feature a book, Jackie, this time it's one of my buddy Amber co-browse allies and avid. Now most of the times, I'd say about 70% of the times throughout the week, I'm on zoom calls with nonwhite. I mean, excuse me, non-black people. Okay.
And this book and others have become such a wonderful topic for us to just, you know, have some common ground. They're like, oh Lisa, what's that all about? Oh, it's an allies book, and then we start to talk about what being an ally really means. And it's a very natural and organic conversation. Now I want to be clear, because I know what the argument is. It's not a Black woman or a Black man's responsibility, right, to teach these things. I get that, but I'm be honest, anytime I can, I do.
Jackie: Absolutely. You know, I think all of us have to make that uncomfortable, sometimes uncomfortable step in the direction of the other person. And sometimes that means for people who are white, I'm going to ask a question that might leave me a bit vulnerable, right, with the answer? Or as a culturally diverse person, as a black woman, I might have to step forward and say, I've got to have another conversation right, but that conversation may be helpful in creating a real ally in the space, not just for me personally, but for others, right. And so that's so important, Lisa.
Lisa: It truly is. I mean, there's so many different ways and approaches that. I think people in leadership in in in corporate and other organizations can do on a day-to-day basis, that aren't a part of a system-wide, systemic, you know what I'm saying? protocol. And if we just start thinking of all of those ways they say that most black women, feel like they can't take off work. If they do, there'll be real repercussions for it. I like to think of the work-life balance. If supervisors would just introduce a better understanding of the amount of a workload on a particular individual, because like I said, a lot of times blacks just simply feel like they can't, they got to take on that extra thing.
They're too scared to tell the supervisor, hey, I got too much on my plate right now, as it is. And like, you know, my partner works in corporate and she tells me the most amazing stories about how her manager always does a temperature check with her. Always. And says, hey, is this too much? What do you got? You know, can we make this work? That should just be common place. Shouldn't it?
Jackie: Yeah, absolutely. And Lisa, you know, one of the things that you've been saying over the past few minutes of the conversation has to do with how you treat another person. It doesn't have to do with anyone's agenda. It doesn't have to do with where you fall on the political, scale, right. It has to do with treating other people like human beings that should be respected, that should be cared for, and that should be appreciated. And that's it. if we just committed to that, right, it would be a great place.
Lisa: I like to say that golden rule, they talk about do unto others as you want them to do unto you, but you know, that rule has to assume that you love yourself first.
Lisa: That's the part of that that nobody ever talks about. But you've got to love yourself first in order to treat people properly.
Jackie: That is, that is a word. I feel like I need my fan. Oh my gosh, so many jewels already in this conversation, Lisa, I love it. So let's, talk about as an LGBTQ influencer and appointed by Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, to the city of Atlanta's LGBTQ advisory board. What do we need to know about supporting the LGBTQ community in the workplace and just in our communities?
Lisa: Well, I'm going to give you a first-hand example for that.
I only started talking about this publicly recently because I just feel like I needed to share something tangible from a person that a lot of people who know me know I'm not a rock the boater, right? I'm not the person out with the signs, thing like that, you know, because I do try to just say, hey, let's all just get along here. But over the past few years I started to find that this happy-go-lucky person you see here today, I am mostly that, but there is one trigger that I have in public and it is every time I ever have to use a public restroom.
When I tell you it's a trigger, Jackie, just even talking about it, almost breaks me out sweat because as I stated earlier, I'm a more masculine presenting woman. And so can you imagine what it's like to walk towards and into a bathroom and have people immediately tell you don't belong in here? What are you doing walking in here? And I have to immediately say I'm a woman. I'm sorry, this is the bathroom I'm supposed to use. And then have to struggle it off and then keep on walking.
I'll take it one step further. I will be at the sink in the bathroom and a young woman, a woman will be with her child. She'll clutch the child. It literally makes me tear up thinking about. She'll clutch her child hurry and wash the hands and bolt out of that bathroom. And when I got with the mayor's office, one of the things that I saw was that the mayor was definitely an ally and an advocate. And one of the things that was able to be passed was that there were gender neutral restrooms in, all throughout the city of Atlanta offices.
And for a person like me, that meant the world because if I could just go into the bathroom and nobody wouldn't give me any static, I wouldn't care, but I can't, you know, because other people's issues make it to where it's uncomfortable for me to do so. So there are just many things that I could Chronicle something so simple as using the restroom in your workplace could be a stress trigger.
I could go on and on. I mean, it's just, it's, it's, it's so many things to consider and that phrase, I'd just like to say, giving people grace, you know, leading with humanity first. These are all the things that we have to think about outside of, you know, what part of the aisle you're on? because most people, I think universally, if they hear that story, it kind of hits them.
Jackie: Yeah absolutely. Well, Lisa, thank you for sharing that, you know, it's so important that we just respond in kindness and we're so or so quick to make assumptions about people. Right. We make assumptions in like one second, right, and we've got a whole story about that person, right.
Lisa: Yeah. Imagine a woman saying a man went into the bathroom earlier today. She's still saying it in her head.
Jackie: It's just so terrible that we can’t just let go of that. Right. Just care about each other. Just be kind to each other. It's stressful, right? It creates a level of anxiety for you that people don't think about it. Right. And, oh, well it just happened this one time. Right? The one-time for that person that said that thing, or that responded in that way is just another thing for you. Right? Another experience for you that's the same. And that's sometimes-what people don't understand. It's like, well, it's just one thing. Well, I didn't, I didn't mean anything by it, but you know, these microaggressions and sometimes macroaggressions that are piled on top of culturally diverse people, it's heavy, right. And
Lisa: There's data, there's data that shows that dates years back, it's not on the forefront of anything, and one of the organizations I work with the, Black Women's Health Imperative, the CEO, you know, loves to talk about that concept of weathering. And that is the effect of things like racism on us from like a health standpoint. Okay. So now you're saying, you just said Jackie it's like, what sort of toll does that take on us from a health standpoint? Once you start breaking it down like that, that gets into a whole nother can of worms.
Jackie: Absolutely. So Lisa, you've done quite a few spots with celebrities on women's health. Why is that a passion for you? And what do you want to share with this audience about health?
Lisa: What I think is that there's a lot of characters in every society, you know? Black people, white people, ever there's people that are endearing, right. When you see their faces, you're like, oh, I just love her or him. And so what we love to do with one of the organizations I work with, the Black Women's Health Imperative, is to take some of those figures, like my current campaign with a Mary J Blige.
And, and let Mary J tell you out of her mouth, I lost my aunt to breast cancer. We are not normalizing this conversation and we should. And more importantly, I didn't find out even saying things that are rather embarrassing. Mary told everybody she didn't even know until she was 40 about the fact that she should even be getting a regular mammogram. She didn't find that out until 40. So I think that the transparency that can come from these celebrities telling their truths, and us being able to get that out. And then combining it, cause it's definitely not a celebrity story, but it's just making them a part of that conversation and then combining it with these real-world women as well.
I think it's the sweet spot because you know, the health disparities, I mean, we'll be here forever talking about all of the health disparities with Black people in this country. I mean, basically black women die 40% more from breast cancer than white women do. So the rates have been going down, but we die more. Okay, so why is that? A lot of times it may be access to care. Sometimes it's just, you know, we don't go back for that second mammogram, we don't know our bodies enough to know that black women have dense breast tissue. And so that makes it harder for us, for them to see the imaging. Right. So it's recommended that we probably get 3D mammograms. These are all things that we not in the group chat talking about.
Lisa: And so if I can be a small drop in the bucket to be able to get certain types of messaging out there, sign me up every damn time.
Jackie: I love it.
Lisa: Sign me up. We're doing a campaign was Sierra for cervical health, you Tamer Braxton a few weeks ago was talking about her unbearable fibroids and how that related to her fertility issues. I mean, this is deep stuff,
Lisa: we've got to find ways to reach people at all costs. That's how I feel.
Jackie: Absolutely. That is so amazing. So Lisa, let's talk about your TEDx, Adopted by Love, Fueled by Inclusion. Tell us what that's about.
Lisa: I'm really proud of that TEDx because it's already outdated.
Lisa: I love that because it was such a pain point for me at the time I did it in 2019, we were struggling in this country for the basic right to not get fired from your job just because you are LGBTQIA+.
Okay, meaning an employer in almost any city in the land could just simply say, you know what? I don't like that person. I just found out they were trans. And we would have had no legal ground to stand on. Georgia was one of those states and I live in Georgia. So it pained me to think that I can be in Atlanta, in this wonderful bubble of inclusivity.
Lisa: But I can travel to one of my favorite cities, Savannah, Georgia. Completely different. So it was really talking about the spirit of a city like it. The heart and soul of Atlanta that I think was kind of birthed in the civil rights movement comes from a space of being inclusive for all. And I feel like that should obviously, you know, fit for all marginalized groups, you know, not just the Mecca for Black folks, you know? And it has been a wonderful experience growing up in Atlanta being Black and a woman and gay and LGBTQ, whatever you want to call it, it's been a great experience, but I know that's just simply not how, you know, a lot of the rest of this country is.
And so that's what that Ted talk was about. But this year a law got passed that finally gave us the right to not get fired for something so simple and so basic. So I'm ecstatic that, that Ted talk is already outdated.
Jackie: I love that. I love that, but you know, it's, it's voices like yours that allowed the spotlight to be on the fact that this was a real issue, right? Because if you're not part of the LGBTQ community, you're not thinking about that, Right, and you're like, well, of course they don't do that. Of course they can't do that.
But the laws on the books, that's one of the things that we have to do as individuals is know the law, right, because we don't. We're like, oh, that can't possibly be right. It should be this, right, but what are the laws on the books? And then what are you doing from a, you know, the standpoint of, you know, advocating through, you know, reaching out to your Congress people and doing all of those things to say, this is not okay.
That goes back to the allyship and the advocacy piece that we were talking about earlier, where you're sitting in your house saying, oh, that's terrible. I don't believe in that. But then what are you doing? What's the action step, right, and that's the difference though? That's amazing. But it's voices like yours that allow that to come to the fore, for them to vote the right way on that. So thank you. That's amazing.
Lisa, in your keynotes, you often talk about walking in your purpose, and we talked about this just a little bit in the beginning. How do we begin to evaluate what our purpose is and how do we make that a practice?
Lisa: I personally think it's about getting quiet. And I'm going to say this to anybody listening. You Google me, you're going to find, I don't have a wife. I don't have children. So you may say to yourself, oh yeah, Lisa, that's really easy for you to get quiet. I got these three ones, these three young ones right here, but when we make ourselves a priority, that getting quiet can happen for anyone.
And that's the only time I feel that you're going to be able to start to figure out what the purpose is you got to get past the clutter, and make yourself a priority. And that's just quite frankly, very hard. you hear me speak a lot more to women than the men, because it was shown during the pandemic, the actual weight of the world right, was on women more than ever. And we have to make ourselves that priority and that's getting quiet. That's your gateway. That's your gateway to finding your purpose. I love a good vision board. I do. I love, you know, I love these exercises, but I think that first getting quiet can go a long way.
Jackie: Absolutely great advice there. So Lisa, your website is Ihavethesecret.com. Tell us what is the secret?
Lisa: For me, the secret was really about knowing that I don't ever worry about any of this, anymore.
Lisa: I don't. And once I'm stopped worrying about whether bills were going to get paid, whether my relationship was going to be better with my family, I just put in the work, Jackie, and all of it flows. See people think that whole, the secret thing means that you're not putting in the work. You are absolutely putting in the work, but it just ends up. You know, I always say things do happen to me occasionally, but when they do, they happen to me, it's such a smaller level than they would have in the past when I wasn't on the right frequency.
Right, and so I talked to people a lot about, because once again, I love that the, the, the music reference. I love being on the right frequency. If you want to hear hip hop, you can't turn on the country station.
Jackie: That's right.
Lisa: You got to be tuned in, tapped in, and if you are tapped in properly, I feel like that that is truly the secret. And also, you know, we talk a lot about, about the way children learn, right? We need to think about how adults learn and how we process things. Because for me, when people used to say setting goals, man, I'm a Sagittarius that made me want to run for the hills. I was like setting goals? Oh Lord, it was so laborious.
So I started to dream. I started to think about what are my dreams, what is that finish line? And I started literally thinking about me doing a 5k, me running a marathon, all of these things that I'm now planning for as a part of my dreams, not my goals that, you know, oh Lord, this, that, and the other. And for some people out there, they can do it the traditional way. But once again, you have to find what works for you because none of it is a universal fix for anyone.
Jackie: Lisa, tell us about Real Divas.
Lisa: Oh, man. Let me tell you, Atlanta is just such a neat place to exist as a filmmaker, as a Black woman. And I got invited into a circle of really bad ass women. I mean, Jasmine guy, who you remember from a different world years ago in the Cosby show, Terry Vaughn, who was on the Steve Harvey show, I could go on and on. Women who have produced award-winning documentaries, television series.
They invited little old me, Jackie, into their little club. And what we basically do is we mentor to a lot of women in the industry. Some that are trying to break in, some that are already in and just need an extra leg up. We also support each other and I have been blessed immensely by being a part of that Real Divas network.
Jackie: That's amazing. Amazing. So Lisa tell us, you know, I've enjoyed this conversation so much. And I always like to ask this question because I never know what I'm going to get right. Tell us something about you that not a lot of people know.
Lisa: This may shock some of my friends. Cause I don't think they even know this. I am a country music buff. I love country music. I listened to it probably 50% of the time. And I'm talking about the grades, the old school grades, Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, all of them. Man, one of my favorites, and I think it's like as a filmmaker, I think it's just the storytelling part of it. You know? I think that's what it probably is that makes me love it so much.
So yeah, one of my favorites is Randy Travis, he has one of the song called good intentions. He said, I hear tell the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Lisa: Right. And Mala, my intentions were the best.
Jackie: Oh, that's amazing. Thanks for
Lisa: I, I try to be a person now who is, is much bigger than my intentions. I try to uphold all of them now, but I remember being that particular character and maybe that's a part of it too, is also seeing a bit of yourself in some of those songs.
Jackie: That's right, absolutely. So Lisa, as we begin to wrap up, what's the message that you want to leave our listeners with today?
Lisa: I don't even know how to wrap that up into a couple of couple of minutes, but I will say this, hell, we were just talking about country music. You ever heard of Marin Morris?
Jackie: I haven't.
Lisa: Okay. She's a great country artist. She actually donated her CMA dress to the Black Women's Health Imperative for an auction to give back to us. But she had this song called Better Than we Found It, and the hook goes when time times this moment to dust, I just hope that I'm proud of the woman I was when long lines of tomorrow are drawn can I live with the side that I chose to be on? Will we sit on our hands or do nothing about it, or will we leave this world better than we found it?
And quite simply, that is my charge to myself every day. That's my charge to the audience. If we win all, just wake up every day and, and wait, not through the big interactions through the small ones I want to leave, this is a great podcast, but I still want to leave it better than I found it. I want to leave the conversations that I had better than I found them. People, places, everything. That means I wouldn't litter if I wanted to leave it better than I found it. Well, I think it's a broad stroke view of how I see the world. So I encourage everybody to get on that train right there, better than we found it.
Jackie: Absolutely Lisa, that's such a great way to end our episode. Thank you so much for taking time to spend with me. I have enjoyed every single moment and you know; your insights are amazing. You just have this aura, like even on, you know, not in person, but you just have this aura of beauty about you. And I I've just enjoyed every single moment of the podcast.
Thank you so much for spending some time with me.
Lisa: Thank you so much for having me, Jackie.
Lisa Cunningham started in hip hop, producing music videos with artists including Master P, TLC, Missy Elliott, and Young Yeezy. But one day, she realized her life and career had a higher purpose, and she decided to produce her own remix. She’s now a human rights advocate, LGBTQ+ influencer, and proponent of Black women’s health. Tune in to hear her story and perspective.
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