During Summit21's third annual conference, late-night show host Robin Thede sat down with friend and fellow entertainer Ashley Blaine Featherson. In the intimate fireside chat, Featherson discerned the difference between passion and purpose while sharing her bumpy road to success.
The "Dear White People" actress imparted that she'd gone through 22 survival jobs before the acting career she aspired to could begin paying the bills. Mind you: she only had a few lines in "Dear White People" and now has an entire episode dedicated to her in season 2 of its Netflix series. Featherson recounted the time she and Emmy-winning producer Lena Waithe and "Dear White People" creator Justin Simien, who struggled and now strive together, once swapped unemployment hacks.
"So Lena is one of my best friends, also Justin is one of my best friends," she said during the Atlanta conference. "We're all really good friends. So I was in my email looking to send something to Lena. I searched her name in my inbox and I don't know why this email popped up from 2014."
The three of them were all on unemployment at one point in time, which, at maximum, only offers approximately $400 every two weeks.
"When you're struggling, everyone was trying to get unemployment," Featherson said. "And the email from Lena was like 'hey, girl. This is the trick to get through the Vietnamese line so you can get your unemployment faster.' And I was like thanks, girl. I'm about to forward this to Justin like get your money, black man."
"This was four years ago," she said even more pointedly. "Lena has an Emmy. Justin got a million shows, about to do a movie. I'm on Justin's show. It goes to show you [that] we didn't stop."
Folks, if that ain't the motivation for your hustle, we don't know what to tell you.