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Aisha Tyler on why you should embrace failure

The actress and director opened up about getting over fear, driving diversity and making your goals happen.
Actress Aisha Tyler and CEO Shelley Zalis at the Girls' Lounge at SXSW 2018.
Actress Aisha Tyler and CEO Shelley Zalis at the Girls' Lounge at SXSW 2018.The Female Quotient

At one point or another, we’ve all struggled with making our voice heard, not letting a “no” stop you and bringing our authentic self to the table. Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient, sat down with Aisha Tyler, best-selling author, comedian, Emmy-award winning talk show host of “The Talk,” podcaster, director and activist. Here is the advice Aisha shared with the Girls’ Lounge community at SXSW 2018 on driving diversity, getting over fear, and making your biggest goals happen.

On getting more diversity in the media

I think the responsibility really lies on women and people of color and people who are underrepresented to keep telling their stories, because unfortunately no one changes out of the goodness of their hearts. Change will really lie in women refusing to take no for an answer.

On getting what you want

If you really want something, choose to fight for it — don’t resign yourself to fight for it. Realize that it’s going to be a battle and then get to work. We need to see where we are, but we’re never going to get there by just thinking about it or looking at it. We have to be taking steps every single day to move towards change.

On paving the way

Every day I get up and I’m not just fighting for space for myself, but I’m trying to create a very wide wake for people who are going to come behind me, because women came before me and they made a space for me. It’s my job to make a space for the next generation.

On being yourself

I’m just trying to be myself unapologetically every single day. Even if it’s controversial, even if it doesn’t fit a mold. I think especially if you’re a woman of color or if you’re a woman in the LGBT community, people are telling you this is the way to represent the gay community or this is the way to represent the black community. I would advise that the way to represent your community is to be yourself without apology, and not adhere to somebody else’s standards of what’s right for your group.

On getting over fear

My philosophy … is just to do it. Don’t worry about whether you’re going to fail. Don’t worry about whether people are going to like it. Just satisfy yourself creatively and everybody else can go to Hell.

On getting things done

It’s not inspiration that matters, it’s execution. Just get up and get to it … The only difference between the people that we see out there who are rich and running the world and us is they just got up in the morning and started executing their to-do list, and we got up the morning and started watching Netflix. So stop watching Netflix and start executing. That is the secret.

On hearing “no…”

Don’t be so rigid that you can’t see the flaws in your own design, but don’t be so flimsy in your conviction that a single “no” shuts you down. If someone says no, don’t freak out. Just go. What is it they’re saying no to? What is it about this that’s not working? Crowdsource some input. Do an informal focus group. Believe in yourself. Just keep betting on yourself, and then be your own best critic and be excellent every day.

On failure

You should be running headlong into failure at breakneck speed, because it’s the only way that you learn. No one ever learns from winning.

This article first appeared on The Female Quotient.

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