For the past few weeks, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work and plan to continue shedding light on people who are actually successful in making their work and faith collide in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional that will be featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series will give us their road map to success and answer questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.
The second installment of the “15 Questions for Success” series features Avril Speaks, producer and director for BET. Check out what Avril has to say about faith and work below:
When people ask you what you do, how do you answer?
I usually say I am an independent filmmaker, or an independent film producer.
When you think of the word ‘successful’ who is the first person that comes to mind and why?
Ava Duvernay. She is someone who has defined success on her own terms. The movie “Selma” is not what made her successful. She owns and defines her own truth in which she was already successful. She had a unique voice within the film industry before that film and she continues to have one today.
What role does faith play when it comes to your career?
Faith plays a huge role because my relationship with God and my interest in film developed around the same time in life, so for me those two always go hand-in-hand. My faith inevitably shows up in my work somehow, even though it is often not in the way that many people would expect.
What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?
It depends on the day. Some days I go to the gym early in the morning. Some days (when I think about it) I’ll read a passage of Scripture. Some days I jump right up and get in the shower. Sadly, other days I lay in bed and scroll through Facebook for an hour (I’m trying to break this habit).
How has knowing your personality type affected your life and how has it played a role in any life decision?
I’m an introvert so I’m not much of a schmoozer. But what that trait has taught me is how to seek out authentic relationships with people. So I’m not really one to “work a room,” but I’m pretty good at finding the one or two people in a crowd that I connect to and those people often end up being valuable parts of my life in some way. I’ve come to realize that my quietness allows me to be an observer, one who thinks thing through before acting out. When making decisions, I weight all the options, rather than jumping into anything too quickly.
What do you most love about what you do?
Getting to collaborate with other creative people and seeing good stories come to life. I think that human stories and testimonies are powerful and any way I can be part of getting those stories told, it makes me happy.
What should someone ask themselves to determine their passion?
What is that something that makes you lose track of time? What is something that you love doing, even if you didn’t get paid for it?
How do you define success?
Success is having the freedom to do what you love. For some people, freedom comes financially (being able to make a living from doing something you love), for others it comes with time (making time in the schedule to do something you love).
What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?
Persistence in making space for those things that bring joy/success.
How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Trust yourself and the knowledge that you have. I spent so many years doubting that I know anything and that I have something valuable to say (I still struggle with this, actually).
What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?
Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment by Carole M. Kirschner and
Imagination and the Journey of Faith by Sandra M. Levy
What advice would you give someone interested in making a career change?
Capitalize your strengths. Just because you are changing careers doesn’t mean you have to throw away all of the skills you have acquired in your previous occupation. My hairstylist was an accountant before opening her own salon. She may have switched careers, but that business sense went a long way for her when starting her own business, which is how she has been able to sustain herself for so many years. Think of none of your years as wasted time. Every job you have done in the past was to prepare you for where you are right now or where you’re trying to go.