By: LaShella JET Miller

© 2012

The distance of your success is best determined by how far you are willing to go.

It was September 2009. I lay in my bed anxious, alert, and nervous because my body was extremely sleep deprived. It was one of those moments when your body wants to sleep but your mind has other plans.  There was a great discontent within my heart and the message became more clear as the writing was etched on the wall of thoughts…it’s time to do something drastic I’ve never done before.

With that being said, I departed from my cozy mattress, got dressed, packed my suitcase, and got in my car driving toward the local train station.  When I approached the ticket window, the agent’s words were simple yet like music to my ears when she said, “How can I help this morning?” Keeping in mind, the time of morning was actually 2:37AM. I looked at her with a smile and replied, “Yes, I will need a one way ticket to New York City.”  At 4:45AM the Conductor yelled the last call for all passengers to board the train. I found my seat and nestled until we departed.  All the while I kept thinking, “what in the world am I doing…I’m insane!”  I didn’t alert any family members or friends that I was going to New York nor did I notify anyone concerning my whereabouts in case of an emergency.  The only thing I knew for sure was this…there had to be a next level.  During the train ride, I instantly concluded in my mind there was no turning back. I didn’t care if it meant me living in a shelter, a local New York hostel, or temporarily living with my relatives who resided in Brooklyn. I just knew the only way I would return back to Baltimore would be after I accomplished something groundbreaking.

I safely arrived in the City of Dreams and searched my blackberry for the address to the agency where I initially arranged a meeting.  I said a prayer before going into the meeting not knowing that the end result would catapult me to a greater dimension in my career as a makeup artist.  After the meeting, I ventured throughout Manhattan and visited a few photography studios to leave my business card and resume.  I even took a plunging chance going into the Maybelline headquarters to leave my resume.  Later that evening I retired to my Uncle’s house in Brooklyn, which later became my second home away from home.  I reminisced over the outlandish attempts I made that day…all for the sake of grasping that next level.

At 7:45AM the next morning, I got a phone call from a strange phone number with a New York area code.  “Hi, is this LaShella?” I anxiously confirmed my identity. “This is the owner of the agency where you interviewed yesterday. We want to take a chance and book you for a paid test job on a photo shoot in 2 days…will you be available?” I immediately answered with a serious “YES INDEED”.  To make a long story short, I had no idea where I was going or what the test job involved, I simply followed the directions and arrived at the location more punctual than ever.  As I walked on the set, I went to check-in with the floor director and she directed me to my work station.  Still a little bit confused about the details for this job, I decided to ask, “Excuse me, but who is the photo shoot featuring.”  The words that came next nearly caused me to faint.  She looked at me and said, “Oh sure – the photo shoot is for the December issue of ESSENCE Magazine for B. Smith’s column”.  My knees became weak but the excitement within kept me standing.  I still thought I was dreaming until B. Smith herself arrived on set. She greeted me with the most genuine smile and introduced herself.  Her make-up artist (Daniel Greene) was the head artist I was working with that day and the two of us interacted with each other as if we had known each other for years.  Needless to say, that was the best day of my life, but also became the official start to a groundbreaking New York adventure.

Often times, when I share this experience with others in the industry seeking upward mobility, they tend to look in amazement at the bravery and courage I demonstrated to gain success in my career.  However, my actions were not as unorthodox as others make them out to be.  I did what any radically motivated and driven person would do in order to gain a monumental next level.  I took a risk!

My grandmother used to say, in order to get something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.  I did just that…the most outrageous leap of faith, which proved to be well worth it in the end.  Not to mention this leap of faith came after breaking free from the controlling powers of those who felt I owed them my life as a result of them helping me gain certain opportunities.   Once I redirected my faith, I understood there is a greater supernatural force controlling my destiny in life rather than the status and prestige of mankind.

Today, there is no reason why people cannot succeed in fulfilling their dreams.  Some people think marriage, being a parent (or single parent), a job, or lack of finances are the major hindrance. This is indeed FALSE.  Perhaps I should have initially mentioned I was unemployed as a result of a layoff and had very limited finances during most of my New York experience.  Even after getting settled into many of my New York jobs, I eventually acquired employment with the Baltimore education system…and still managed to fulfill every New York obligation issued to me from the agencies where I worked.  For those who have children, it still is NOT a hardship to shoot for the stars. Yes, the obligation children require can slightly slow down a process, but it cannot stop where you may see yourself in 5 years.  Furthermore, for those who greatly wish to provide their children with a better quality of life, is more than enough motivation to not allow your child(ren) life to be a reason why you hinder your potential to excel.  Again, the distance of your success is based upon how far YOU are willing to go.  Once you believe in your craft, talents, skills, and dream it’s only fair to test the waters and take the risk.  Many times, people allow fear to be the factor separating them from the “Once was” and “Could Be”.  Furthermore, when you really get down to the root of the matter, FEAR & LACK OF CONFIDENCE is the paralysis impeding many people from a bright new future.

While some may continue to find reasons why they cannot reach their full potential, I will give you even more reasons why you CAN.  My journey from Baltimore to DC, Miami, Philly, and New York was not hard to attain or achieve.  I simply believe wholeheartedly in the craft/talent God blessed me with and I literally woke up one morning realizing a risk could only mean I had something more to gain.

Visit to receive information and updates about her workshop series titled “SECRETS TO THE NEXT LEVEL”.


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