Voyage LA: Meet Alison Mann of BRIC Foundation and Project B Side
Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Mann.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Alison. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I am an artist, a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, an animation executive, and a cancer warrior.
As an artist I always knew I wanted to work in the creative field; I have been drawing and painting as far back as I can remember-
As a wife, I continue to seek personal growth to help myself evolve alongside my partner and within our relationship-
As a mother, I know now what it means to be selfless, that perfection is just a word and to cut myself some slack-
As an entrepreneur, I try to create positivity and change where I think I can make a difference-
As an animation executive, I want reinvent the landscape of how we recruit, support and nurture creative talent-
And as a cancer warrior, I seize every day, and try to create purpose around all of my actions-
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s life, I can’t imagine it’s smooth for anyone. No matter how well you map out your life, there is a revolving door of challenges you can’t predict or control.
When you are little- you think you are invincible.
After I found out my breast cancer came back (almost five years to the date of beating it the first time), my friend asked me if I felt it was harder to hear the news of getting cancer again.
The answer? Yes. It’s the f*$king worst. Not only was I in complete shock that there was even a remote possibility of it coming back, but it was magnified by the fact that I am the mom of three-year-old twins. I didn’t think this was a thing that could ever happen to me, let alone twice.
It was the Wednesday after Mothers Day 2018. I was standing in my work parking lot at 10 AM when my doctor called me with the news. When she told me it was cancer, I a flash of fear came over me, and I started shaking.
At first, I couldn’t make sense of it… “WHAT?!?!” “HOW?!??” quickly followed by “F*&@!” and “NOOOOO this can’t be happening.” I started hysterically crying and hyperventilating. All I was thinking was- I am not going to make it to 40, and worst of all, I am not going to see my babies grow up.
My babies. Five years ago, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 34, I was told I couldn’t have kids… Surprise! Brooklyn and Carter came into this world on October 1st, 2015. This was crazy since, in 2014, I was told A) we couldn’t have babies naturally (after a trip to the fertility doctor following my first cancer diagnosis) and B) that we ended up with boy/girl twins.
Five years after my first diagnosis, I have two amazing little people that are a reminder of how special and precious our lives are. I couldn’t imagine my life without them, and now, with my cancer back, I can’t imagine their life without me. The thought alone, f&* terrifies me.
When you are a mom, your children think you are invincible. You have to be invincible.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the BRIC Foundation and Project B Side story. Tell us more about the business.
I have been in this industry for over 16 years now, and in those 16 years, I have worked in talent recruitment for tv, film, gaming, and tech, and while the platforms for storytelling are evolving, the recruiting around the talent from where I stand hasn’t, and that is why I wanted to create a space to discuss how we can build a better infrastructure and support mechanisms for women and underrepresented groups who want to be creative leaders in the entertainment industry.
Pledges are amazing, and I do feel we have done a lot with developing programs and building awareness in our communities it hasn’t been enough to really break that glass ceiling we are all wanting so bad to overcome. A year ago, I had an idea- what would happen if we got a group of forward thinkers together from different facets of the entertainment, media and tech community to discuss how we can truly change the landscape of how women and underrepresented groups are hired and supported especially in creative leadership positions.
That idea + the fantastic partnership I have with Jill Gilbert and Nicole Hendrix, lead to us to the creation of the BRIC Foundation, and from there our first high school Create-a-Thon and BRIC’s first Talent + Innovation Summit this past February. The BRIC Foundation’s mission is to break, reinvent, impact and change the foundation of how we engage story leaders in the creative space.
Our goal is to create new access points for women and people from underrepresented groups so they can excel at creative leadership and to enable culture change through engaging and empowering talent. We do this by bringing inner-city high schoolers into creative studios, giving them a project, and over the course of a weekend, they work with industry experts to learn, create, and network.
We also bring industry leaders together to solve problems like making the hiring process more inclusive, creating internships, educational policy changes, and funding solutions for creative projects that focus on intersectional issues with diverse leaders.
In trying to do my part to impact our world for the better, I want to create space for creators to make creative content to raise funds for charity. I love the idea of marrying artistry and philanthropy, so Project B-Sides, a crowdfunding platform and publisher, was born. The site is in progress, but in the meantime, we’re focusing on our first project, the B- Side Stories.
Our mission is to bring awareness and humanity and show that cancer does not discriminate. Proceeds of this book will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Metavivor Research, and Support Inc. and cover the production costs associated with the making of this project. Our goal for this book to be completed by Oct 2019 for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
No matter what hat I am wearing, organization, or project I am supporting- it is about trying to find ways to impact and change the eco-system around me. There is a lot of noise and negativity, so I’m creating a space that allows people to feel empowered, and feel that they have the ability to make change and use their voice, that inspires and reminds me how great humanity can be, and hopefully, it does the same for others.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe every experience has a purpose. In my opinion, It is less about luck and more about the cards you have been dealt, and how you play a tough hand. I don’t mind making mistakes, because I don’t see them as failures, just growth opportunities. My tribe has always been important to me, and I lean on them for advice or when I feel out of my depth. Focusing on authenticity, honesty, and kindness has led me to a place where people trust me as a friend, mentor, creator, and leader.
In my career, I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in my formative years, comparing myself to others, and being jealous of their success. I would often have a bitter outlook and didn’t understand why they had better “luck” than me. I think I had a bit of an “Eeyore” attitude at times. That mindset really held me back from becoming a more inclusive and successful human. The moment I realized I was on my own journey and stopped comparing myself to others, everything started falling into place.
I never sought to be a mom. I had never even babysat or held a baby before my kids were born. I was completely happy with life just being my career, hubby and our fur babies. When I was told I couldn’t have children, my husband and I didn’t really care or want to do anything to change the situation. Even when we first got accidentally pregnant that resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, it didn’t really change our minds. Then bam, out of nowhere, we were pregnant with twins… in our state of shock, we didn’t discuss this news for about three months.
The first year with children was hard, draining and at times depressing. I didn’t know how to find a balance between my career, them (being a mom), and maintaining some kind of life. Then one day, it felt like the dust of imbalance kind of settled- and while it never is easy, I had a better understanding on how to succeed as a parent. Being a mom has been a reflective journey, not only with how I approach everyday challenges within work and life, but it also gave me a new-found appreciation for our world.
As cliché as it may sound, having cancer, has taught me to live like today is my last; to seize opportunities, even if they are uncomfortable or scary, and with experience and time, we are granted the tools to achieve what we were truly set on this planet to do.
The unpredictability of life reminds me of the importance of prioritization and patience, and to try to approach every day with wonder and discovery.
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