We had the good fortune of connecting with Audra Bryant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Audra, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
There is a biblical verse that has stuck with me since establishing my scars platform and that is: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) To me, this verse is saying that no matter the circumstances we have experienced in life (whether seemingly good or seemingly bad) that it is ALL good and serves to bring something positive into our lives. Personally, growing up with very prominent scars I felt like my scars were the worst part of me and that nothing good could ever come from them. I felt like I could only have a fighting chance at having a decent life if my scars went away or if I’d never had them in the first place. During my inner healing process, I began to see that when I embraced my scars and stopped looking at them as barriers to my success that is when this verse began to make sense. I then applied it to my business. If a business deal did not go through or working with a specific person did not happen then I went back to this verse because it reminded me that no matter the circumstance I am designed to win. I believe any entrepreneur or creative has to have a massive level of faith in their work. Creatives deal with a hefty amount of rejection because not everyone will fall into alignment with your vision and that rejection can create doubt and make you lose enthusiasm. A loss of enthusiasm for your vision prevents the next person from seeing it clearly and on and on it goes. It could get so bad that you too could lose sight of your very own goals. But what if we just kept going and fell more in love with our vision with every rejection or delay? What if we took every criticism of our idea or business model constructively and used it to challenge ourselves to see if what we have is truly the best product we can offer instead of allowing ourselves to become frustrated? Walt Disney was fired from his local newspaper for “lacking creativity” and was rejected over 300 times when he pitched Mickey Mouse. Had Disney not been fired from the newspaper he may not have created Mickey or thought of pitching his idea. What if with every rejection he faced he continued to refine his initial Mickey sketches until every color, shape, and facial expression was just simply undeniable? Tyler Perry had several plays that he spent his hard-earned money to produce and barely 30 people showed up early on in his career. Maybe these early disappointments are exactly what was needed for him to develop the thick skin that was required in dealing with network executives later on in his career. We don’t always understand, in the moment, why we experience certain disappointments but many times those disappointments serve as fuel to get us closer to our destination if we choose to believe it. Now when I look at my own life, I can see how the thing I despised most about myself (my scars) is now the foundation for the work that I do and the very reason I am writing this article.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My creative path was not straight and narrow by any means. I have explored various areas of the entertainment field. I wrote my first song at 8-years-old. From there I began writing songs for the youth theatre group I was a part of (Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit) from 9th-12th grade. At 19, I moved to Los Angeles and become an intern for Jill Scott’s first record label (Hidden Beach Recordings) while continuing to write my music and appeared on various Jazz projects over the next few years. After music slowed down, I then had the opportunity to work as a Researcher and Associate Producer for Steve Harvey’s Big Time which jumpstarted my career in TV Production. From there I spent six seasons as a Casting Producer for America’s Got Talent and then took a break and wrote and produced my first play. I did some acting and voiceover work as well during that time. Then did freelance work here and there until I obtained a position at Cartoon Network (my first Corporate position). In 2016, I dipped my toe into the comedy waters and have since performed at the Comedy Store as well as The Laugh Factory in Hollywood. Comedy actually primed me emotionally for the birth of my next music project. I released my 2nd EP in 2018 and soon after I left Cartoon Network as I felt that it was important for me to create something because of the response I received from my song “Scars” (featured on the 2nd EP I released). Whenever I performed “Scars” I felt connected to that song and when people began to open up to me about their experiences with their scars I wanted to build a platform that could assist others in healing those wounds (without having to take more than 25 years to do so like I did.) Now, I have since created the I’ve Got Scars Baby! Podcast and my book will be coming out toward the end of 2020. I am very grateful for such a vast creative experience but I must say that navigating all of this looks much easier on paper than it was to experience firsthand. Let me tell you it was extremely challenging, to say the least. Working freelance for such a long time where I had to find a new gig every few weeks or months which left me on and off Unemployment wondering how the rent will be paid, trying to make sure that I didn’t lose sight of myself as a creative and get too comfortable when I did have a super steady paycheck, to doing the healing work within myself so that I could even write a song like “Scars” took work, faith, resilience, and some extra faith when everything inside of me said, “Why are you even doing this? No one’s listening!” I want people to know that the I’ve Got Scars Baby! platform was birthed from the most authentic place inside of me. Yes, I am an actor so I can put on a “show” and a comedian so I can “keep it light and fun” if I need to but I can’t forget the pain my scars caused me…the way they made me feel. Whenever I see them in the mirror I reflect back to exactly how long it took for me to go through the process of looking at them in the first place. Scars are real but so is freedom! So is fully embracing yourself and loving yourself scars and all. Doing what I can to assist others in their journey toward self-empowerment is a truly powerful experience for me and I am so grateful to have a platform that can serve others in that way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to the tourist spots first like Venice Beach, the Walk of Fame and of course Roscoes! (lol) Then I would spend some time in Laguna Beach and San Diego. During this visit we are going to have to have brunch at Castaway and check out a rooftop flick at Neuehouse Hollywood.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my family and friends (especially my parents) who have always believed in me and encouraged me in my creativity no matter how many plays I drug them to or songs I asked them to listen and critique for me. Also, to Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit which is the place that gave me the confidence to continue writing songs and provided me with the discipline to be a performer.
Will Utley Ian Young