Have you ever been a fan of someone or been around someone that you knew you liked, but you were really taken back by how incredible the person is once you got to know them? That’s how I felt after a Q&A session I somehow got lucky enough to attend with Carrie Ann Inaba. On the panel she was titled “The Talk host”, but she has a number of other impressive titles: choreographer, actress, Dancing with the Stars judge, former international pop icon and probably more.
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This is diversity in action. Look at us. It’s powerful isn’t it? Three strong women of diverse backgrounds, who have worked diligently and tirelessly to get to a position where they can be a part of the solution…taking action to help elevate other women and minorities. It feels good to be a part of this. Catrice Monson (SVP Diversity and Inclusion at CBS Corporation) and Angelica McDaniel (Executive Vice President, Daytime Programs and Syndicated Program Development, CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Distribution) decided they wanted to do something to EDUCATE, INSPIRE, and CELEBRATE DIVERSITY. So, together they created this first ever Diversity Panel. I was honored to a part of such an important endeavor. It is a responsibility to represent diversity…. as an Asian American Pacific Islander who has been in television for over 30 years, (on both sides of the camera), I still get a bit nervous before an event like this, but that’s a good sign. It tells me that I still care deeply about what I do and more importantly, HOW I do it. For me, representing diversity is all about how I show up in all that I do. When given an opportunity, I show up with my best. I do the work and I know that when I do my job well and with a unique stamp of my authentic self, I am opening doors for other young AAPI’s in the future. By sharing our stories, we can help others unlock their own passions, and find their own paths. This was a special day. During the conversation we had, Angelica and I shared our stories with the hopes to inspire others…and I also left that stage feeling inspired from listening to Angelica’s incredible stories. I was also reminded of who I am and where I came from by sharing my own journey. All and all… it was a win for diversity and inclusion. And that feels good. I will be posting some of quotes from the discussion… 🙌🏻✨🙌🏻 #inclusion #connection #conversations #diversity #shineon #emeraldlife #seatatthetable #carrieanninaba #angelicamcdaniel #catricemonson @catricemonson @angelica_mcd @carrieanninaba #women #aiwarrior #thetalkcbs @cbsdaytime @cbsdiversity #takingsteps #aapi @cape_usa #asianpacificislander #asianamerican #human
Inaba participated in a diversity discussion for CBS employees, which was moderated by the CBS Executive Vice President of Daytime Programs & Syndicated Program Development Angelica McDaniel. I had no idea what to expect from this event, but I left with a feeling of awe and proudness of Inaba. I know her best from her gig on Dancing with the Stars, but I had no clue how she got to where she is today. She was approached by a talent manager at age 18 when she won a talent show in her home state of Hawaii. She was then groomed to be a Japanese pop singer, but quickly realized she could not deal with the “machine.” She walked out of that deal and was very lucky to have no legal repercussions. She said she was simply naïve, but others would say she was strong and confident in herself to be able to do that. And from there, she worked hard touring with Madonna, taking dancing gigs, landing acting roles and hustling her way to where she is today. She did concede that she thinks her ethnicity helped her stand out, as she always felt she was “the one Asian girl,” on sets. She admitted she was blown away when she was titled an American judge on Dancing with the Stars, which I thought was sweet.
From hearing about her life and her trials and tribulations, I can tell you Carrie Ann Inaba is a resilient woman who knows her worth, but also sees the worth of those around her. That doesn’t explain too much, though, so here are three things I took away from the panel with Carrie Ann Inaba.
You’re an emerald, but one of many
One thing I loved about Inaba is that while McDaniel was the moderator, Inaba didn’t want all the attention to be on her. She asked McDaniel how she stays poised and sure of herself as a woman with a high-power role. McDaniel told a story about how she wears emeralds to remind herself that she is a strong and beautiful emerald. One thing that I really enjoyed that Inaba talked about, though, is that she was raised to believe she’s a goddess and can do anything she wants in life. What she learned as she spent more time away from Hawaii is that while she is a goddess, she is “one of many.” I think that is a healthy mindset to have: you’re an emerald, but you’re one of many. In my own words, have confidence, but be humble.
Communication is crucial
I didn’t just learn this next tidbit, but it did stick out to me in the discussion. You need to be able to communicate with yourself and others in a respective manner to get anywhere. Inaba has practiced this throughout her whole life and this has probably helped her with her shining success. In her early 20s when she knew she could not take the pressure of being a Japanese pop star, she listened to herself and communicated that with the people in charge of her. When she’s debating with her The Talk cohosts, she’s not screaming at them across the table (like some other shows). Communication is a valuable skill to have and if you use it well, it can really work for you in all sorts of situations.
Take care of yourself
The one direct quote I have from Inaba is “You have the right to feel good about anything you do.” This seems to have been practiced by Inaba since a young age, and this is advice that I think everyone should keep in mind. If you are making decisions to advance your professional or personal self, you should unapologetically do what’s best for you. I of course will always add the disclaimer that you should never intentionally hurt someone else to better yourself. However, it is important to take care of yourself in all ways, because at the end of the day, you need to live with you and your decisions. Inaba for example has used this advice when she has had to cancel plans due to her various chronic illnesses. She can’t live to make others happy. She has to take her own health into consideration, and she’s not going to feel guilty about it.
Inaba is a lively, thoughtful and talented person. It was super refreshing seeing someone I grew up watching in person and having the positive experience I did. I simply hope some of this advice speaks to any readers out there! Do you have any advice you live by? Let me know!