King Richard or Biggie Willie?|…when your job makes space for you, Literally. *work-life-balance*
WS just keeps saving the day.
Recent Hollywood articles and interviews feature Aunjanue Ellis’ profession that it was the Award Winning Actor Will Smith who helped bump up her pay up for the co-star role of “Oracene” in Warner Brother’s Major motion picture film “King Richard”. There is no surprise here, in fact Will went out on a limb a number of his cast mates ensuring that they had proper pay, accommodation and support when camera’s weren’t rolling.
Constantly ~ WS leaned into cast and crew to ensure that the work environment was a stressfree zone, “…a place of Joy” where people were free to be themselves, dive head first into their artistry and behind all the masks and PPE maintain a smile.
How do I know this? I spent the majority of the Global Pandemic as one of those people… behind a mask and camera, helping to bring this production to Audiences around world. What an experience.
Yes, Financial Wellness — is a key component to this story, less we forget how far we’ve come even for women to be able to petition for fair treatment, equal opportunity and pay. It is a fact — be in Hollywood, a corporate tech firm or a small business that labor is more gratitfying when it takes place in an environment and amongst leadership that is supportive, thatelevates and celebrates it’s team/staff rather than hand them off to clout or exposure also referred to as “perks and benefits” as an incentive for their hard work. But, you see there is so much more to bringing the Whole person into view— that actually (no pun intended) sells the picture.
What I appreciated most about working with Will, was not only the tone that he set — on set; Will’s geniuine care, love and outreach for all who were involved in the film kept us going even with mishaps, shutdowns, push backs and the gabbit of things that rose to threaten the completition of such a heartfelt story. His willingness to create space a-safe-haven for all made us be more present, feel heard, included and valued as part of this experience. As a Creative myself, I appreciated his intense search to understand his character Richard more and more using it as reflection for his own life as a Father, Paternal Figure and Leader for his Team — Westbrook.
For me, coming from the Theater. I am accustomed to “going Dark”. It’s means preparationis time before the show is about to begin and often times it means maximizing on that time to strip away yourself to put on the magic for live audiences. I would do this several times a week during my run of CATS on Broadway in Chicago. But quickly learned that if I didn’t really invest my time the necessary self-work to ensure that I was refreshed, renewed and ready to hit the stage that next go around, I was in trouble.
It’s the same with Work Breaks.
Truth be told, set life can be monotonous even with all of excitement & celebrity Buzz etc. Several takes of the same shot, angles, changes, add- ons, wardrobe changes, weather, lighting. You name it. Even Will’s charisma couldn’t hold us for that long. At some point during long shoot days, you tapped out just in the same way that you might feel after long hours working virtually on Zoom.
It’s easy to get carried away with unhealthy habits or distractions like excessive snacking, after hours binge eating at the Taco or Ramen Truck, taking a nap during lunchhour after that extra layer of Chocolate Cake that you didn’t need. And so on… Your world, on set is comprised mainly of metal trailers, bench chairs and equiptment — with you at a standstill, focused.
“QUIET ON SET!”
That’s why when I discovered the Wellness Trailer propped between the actors and grassy mat with a tent over in Westbrook land— I was over the Moon! It had to have been Will. He valued Health and Wellness immensely as part of his own journey being Richard, and challenged his team at Westbrook to take on a healthy regimen and diet during that time for a more clear mind and toned body. Who can argue with that? Your boss seeking your best health interest? Nice.
Inside… a trailer transformed, there was a small gym with weights, mats for exercise and stretch, (I lived my best life there doing GYROKINESIS®) a TV for movies and video games, a ping pong table and bean bags for relaxing. Not your average break room.
Simple. Thoughtful. Intentional.
This gesture, all though completely up to the indvidual to take advantage of, is an incentive that more companies could model after whether it means creating a physical space or introducing nutrition or physical wellness program for staff to encourage their progress and motivation throughout the work day. This speak volumes especially during a time where retention is no longer contingent on how well a company is doing, but instead how it’s people are doing.
It’s refreshing to hear how Aunjanue’s experience has now become a positive wind chime for Will, after years of being slammed by the tabloids concerning his personal affairs, family dynamic and misread image as an A-Lister in Hollywood. It is true what she says, “The Fight is On!” but as Black Women, who just want to live their life and love the work that they do — the fight is so much more fulflling when have the support of our Men/Brothers/Fathers standing beside us.
It’s also important for people to understand the reason why WS has had so much success and popularity through the years. It’s because he is the Complete Artist — both in front of and behind the camera one who understands the humanity is reflective of one’s character from the inside-out not just what is projected to others, polished and performed or even produced.
…to the World, take note — there is more than one way to be inclusive.
Get with it. #worklifebalance #workplacewellness #creatingspace #inclusivity #mentalhealth #brand #workculture #inclusivity #diversity #nutrition #community #team #teameffort #teamplayer #goals