We had the good fortune of connecting with Xiomara Bernard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Xiomara, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Thank you for inviting me. It’s an honor. My name is Xiomara Bernard. I’m a Cuban, French, African, Native American actor and filmmaker, who is no label, and a huge hardcore fan of Sailor Moon, Kingdom Hearts, etc… I’m fluid in pronouns! Okay, ready? Here we go… This pandemic was a massive eye-opening journey. Never have I expected to see this in my lifetime. But as I mentioned once before, life is never as expected. Expect the unexpected. This time period of stillness has changed my personal life and my career life, and for the better.
In spite of the unknown road that is happening around us, I’m learning to prioritize self-care and set boundaries in all areas of my life. I’ve been training a lot in my field with game-changing mentors. I also choose my battles based on my intuition, and whether or not my decisive action to get involved is a service to me. I always ask myself these questions as of late: Is this elevating me physically, mentally, emotionally, healthy, etc..? Learning new things with meditation and breaking down the enigma of my own mind and body is what helped me keep my balance. Whenever I feel a sense of being overwhelmed, I turn to God and just sit with him in silence. I don’t make any requests, nor expect him to answer. I just sit in stillness.
I allow myself to do breathwork, make it a daily practice, morning and night, and I allow my thoughts to run in my head, whatever thoughts they may be. Then from there, I filter them out and keep the ones I want, or confront them. And I’ve learned to make sure that I’m enjoying myself on a daily basis. I find ten things I enjoy to start with in addition to my career. I make time to call my folks every day. I make time to try new things. And mostly, I make time for myself.
Since I started prioritizing self-care, I’ve found myself to be more productive. I’ve also found myself to be clear in my mind when I need to recreate. I take inventory of where I use my energy in ALL areas of my life. I always ask myself: where do my time and focus go the majority of the time? Is it worth it? Did it give me value? Did I grow to be a part of this community? Is it stagnant? Is it responsive? Is it not giving me value? Did I not grow from it? Do I leave? Yes? No? Can I change it if I don’t? I gather the power to walk away from things that no longer resonate with me. Even if it’s a positive atmosphere, if it doesn’t resonate with me, I say goodbye. For example, I was a part of over a thousand film groups via social media.
But when I did recent inventory, I saw many of the groups were not active in years, it was eating up my time from seeing posts from groups that were actually active. When the pandemic broke out, I lost all of my side jobs. But then I realized the process of elimination helped me take inventory of my finances. I checked my balance, and started to ask myself: was I investing more into these side jobs than I was earning from them? I started to find a way to make income working from home, and it freed me to work on my career more. It was a blessing in disguise.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Training. Constantly training with strong game-changing mentors. I also plugged myself into strong communities that inspire me as well as hold me accountable. I make sure that I’m either training, practicing, or constantly creating. And I do weekly accountability with my tribes. As an actor, I have been passionate about imagination since I was three, but did not get professionally involved until I graduated high school. Like everyone else, I have struggled with financial hardships. I’ve done my share going around in circles and taking a long time to elevate to the next tier in my career before I found the right game-changing mentors. I’ve met my producing partners, Allison Chaney and Erin Okamoto, and joined forces for what is now “Theophilus Films”. Two of the short films, “Night” and Poison”, have gone to local and international film festivals.
Both films were in my vision, “Night” was filmed on that same beach that I was meditating on two years prior. That blew my mind. I’m happy to report that things went up from there. I went back to college. got my Associates at SMC, and met my amazing crew members. They will always be family with Theophilus Films. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve booked a lot of acting work. I did a lot of independent films, plays music videos, voice-overs, did a role on “Awkward”, which is on Hulu, as well as done singing and dancing gigs around town in between acting gigs. One of the feature films I’m most proud to be a part of is called “Firstness”, which was directed by the phenomenal Brielle Brilliant. They are such a powerhouse! Brielle is so creative and a true leader! I was flown to New Mexico and had an amazing experience with the beautiful cast and crew.
It would be a dream to work with them again! “Firstness” premiered at the Portland International Film Festival and is now screening at the Atlanta Film Festival. So far, it’s been getting great reviews. I highly recommend anyone to experience this beautiful film. It’s a worthy watch. As for Theophilus Films, we are excited to get ready for our third short film called “Blackout”.
The entire cast and crew are family. Love them! We are all excited to get together once things are safe. “Blackout” will be our first union short film for our company. This beautiful tale is about love and finding your power. It’s a story close to my heart. I’m a proud no-label in the rainbow community. It is also our first film with LGBTQIA+ leading characters. Our company is all about inclusion, diversity, and representation. We have cast and crew from all walks of life. In the meantime, I will continue to train with my mentors. ~+~
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely take them to The Culver Hotel. That is one of my favorite spots that my best friends and I’d love to go to. It was so much history and I consider it vintage. The beaches are a sight to behold, especially Marina Del Rey Beach. I love the beach. I’m obsessed with bonfires (might take friends to Dockweiler Beach). When the pandemic is over, hoping in the fall, I would love to have a bonfire party. I recommend anyone visiting Los Angeles (after the pandemic dies down of course), to check out “Cinespia” at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
You get to watch movies in graveyards. You are allowed to bring food items as well as picnics, blankets, and chill with friends. I would also check out Koreatown and try out the delicious Korean food. Check out Little Tokyo as well. They also have delicious food as well as the Japanese Garden. There are a lot of rich museums to check around here. I would check out studio tours as well Hollywood and Downtown LA as it has a lot of rich history but go during a time when it’s not so busy. If there are events going on, you could be stuck in traffic, or stuck in an event! I kid you not. One time I was trapped from leaving anywhere in Hollywood because the Macy Parade was going on as well as Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. traffic. I would say, turn off your car if you are not moving. Wait it out. Because you will be stuck for a long time! There are a lot of cool local coffee shops and mini-concerts by local musicians in art houses.
I would also check out hidden speak-easies in L.A.! They are so many where you go through a hidden closet. It takes you back to the twenties. Definitely check them out! I’ve lived here in L.A. for a long time. I will be honest, I think I only saw a quarter of it. I strongly feel there are so many places I have not seen yet.
If anything, do a ride-share so you won’t have to worry about parking unless you prefer to drive. I recommend planning for two weeks minimum. Wear sneakers as you will find yourself hiking a lot, even if you drive a car! “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” ~ Eagles Seriously. L.A. stays with you. Even if you are just stopping by, you will be thinking about it when you leave for a long time.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are awesome individuals I’m grateful for in my life. When I volunteered at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. I met Seth Caskey, one of the CDs I respect and admire. He was my manager during that time before he became a CD. Because of him, I had a free-lance contracted position created for me and worked for them for three years. I will be forever grateful to him, his boss Marcia Smith, as well as Tina Spears, who gave me a shot to submit. We came full circle when we met again. He continues to be an amazing mentor.
I also looked up to coaches like Jamie Renee Smith, James Ciccone, Megan Gainey, and I had the privilege of coaching with Kathleen Turner, one of my childhood heroes that inspired me to be an actor. I look up to CDs like Caroline Liem, Christy Faison, Jami Rudofsky, David Caparelliotis, Cathy Reinking, Josh Einsohn, so many others who donate their time to share their knowledge with actors and continue to inspire. I found meaningful relationships that helped me expand myself and continue to elevate to another tier for my career, ranging from close friends/partners in Theophilus Films to strangers that I meet online, and discovered them to be kindred spirits. I love so many people that I’ve met online. It’s incredible that I didn’t know they existed before.
I have incredible mentors who are game-changers. They always challenge me to never get comfortable with being content. I also am involved with incredible communities that are supportive and hold me accountable. Of course, I have to mention my Mom, especially my Mom, dad, siblings, and family, who are my strong cheerleaders. They constantly support me and my films. My dear friends on the East Coast (Rita Miyagi, Jeff Peterson, Louis McCauley, Chad Cole, etc… to name a few) are always sending bear hugs online. And of course, my producing partners and best friends, Allison Chaney and Erin Okamoto. I wouldn’t know where I’d be without them. We consistently evolve as the main tripod tribe in our production company and are getting ready to expand once “Blackout” is completed. God, Jesus, Mary, the Angelic Realm, are my champion spiritual army who constantly cheerleads me. Last, but not least, Myself.
My mind, my Spirit, my body, and my Heart are one. Because I cheerlead myself, I’m now Here.
“Firstness” poster copyright (director Brielle Brilliant and photographer Alexa Viscius) https://www.firstnessfilm.com/