We had the good fortune of connecting with Christiana Renee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christiana, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
Swami Vivekananda once said, “Take risks in your life. If you win, you can lead. If you lose, you can guide.” Many of life’s greatest achievements have come from people who saw an opportunity and took a risk towards something greater. We hear about it in the news, see it in our own community and view it through various people we admire like Michelle Obama. We view their accomplishments and allow their life to inspire our own. However, sometimes taking risk in our own life can leave us feeling inadequate, self-conscious and wondering two big words that have crossed our minds at one point in time, “WHAT IF?”. I have to say, that those two words have crossed my mind on numerous occasions. Though I would love to say I conquered these words every time in my life, the truth is…I have not. For example, towards the beginning of my College freshmen year, I did not have enough money to finish out my semester. Instead of taking the opportunity to explore other options to remain in school, I allowed the words “What If” to play in my mind over-and-over again. I did not take the risk nor the opportunity at hand because I was scared that I would fail, I was not good enough and I did not have enough faith to seek out resources. This decision left me feeling inadequate and defeated. As a result, I moved back home only to get a job without any goals in mind. I am sure we all can relate to this scenario or other scenarios like pursuing a better career, going after a relationship or seeking to achieve greatness, whatever that may be. When I think of the word “risk”, I think of an unknown opportunity that requires each-and-every one of us to step out on faith. While taking a risk, we unconsciously trust that the decision we make will be the best one for our life. However, at times some of our decisions may not always lead to success and guess what…that is perfectly okay. Occasionally we make plans not knowing how those plans will play out in our life. Life may turn out exactly how we anticipate it but in other times, it would leave us falling, having to pick up the pieces. Living through those uncertain moments will force us to evaluate our mentality, our decisions and our environment.
Getting back to my College story: For a year I lived at home in Detroit feeling frustrated because I did not finish school. One day a Customer at my job in Detroit, spoken into my life and challenged me to fight toward what I wanted the most: to be a College Graduate. She said, “Take the risk and go back to school. You won’t fail when you’re in line with God’s vision for life”. It was at that moment, I stopped to look at my environment in which I was in and question myself on how I wanted to live my life. I had to make a decision…would I fight for my education, even if I couldn’t financially afford to go back to school? Do I settle with being comfortable at my parent’s house, working a job I really didn’t care for? As you can imagine, I decided to take the “risk” and fight. That night I wrote a heartfelt letter to the President of my University, explaining my dilemma and shared with her of some of my goals that I will accomplish. I was determined to not give up on achieving my dream of graduating. After a few days of the letter being sent, I received a message from my University President. She was very moved by my letter and invited me back to school with both semesters paid for in scholarships. Four years later, I was walking across the stage as the first person in my immediate family to graduate college. Years after my graduation, my brothers also followed in my footsteps as graduates.
I will always remember in that crucial moment (when I was not in school) I could have given up on my dreams, but I decided that being comfortable wasn’t always a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous of the “WHAT IF” thoughts but I knew that if I was going to get to my God-given purpose, I had to face the unknown. What I’ve learn from my experience on taking “risk” in your life is that it will bring certain aspects out of you; such as, courage, creativity, strength, insight, wisdom and development of your character as you become a better person. I personally believe that if you are striving to be a better person, failure has no place in your life. You will never fail when you refuse to stay down and rise above your disappointments. Today in our current situations, there is a lot of uncertainty. Covid-19, various death, police brutality, injustice and racism have a great effect on our lives, community, our nation and world right now. We are all striving for our God-given purpose which may involve taking a risk in walking for a protest, speaking out towards injustice, showing love for our fellow man, living unapologetically as we pursue our goals or praying for those who need it. I cannot tell you what type of risk you should take for your own life but what I can tell you is your greatest achievements lies in the unknown. While taking a risk, “If you win, you can lead” others on how to be successful; “if you lose, you can guide” others on how to get back up and keep going towards something greater. The choice on how to view life’s challenges is yours but your outcome will always be determined by the mindset you display. No matter what risk I take in my life, I will always push towards greatness. I might fall but I will always get back up to face what challenges my character, for I was built for greatness!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My Story started out in Detroit MI. I was born to Paul and Shelly Singleton who were very spiritual, cultural and creative people. As the only daughter in a family of 8, I was very quite. When my brothers were not around I often had to be my own playmate. But whenever my parents asked me to perform for them this meant putting on a theatrical show. My dad was so impressed that one day after acting out a character from a book I was reading, he and my mom took me to an acting class at the local YMCA. I fell in love with story telling which lead me to join the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and the rest is History. Mosaic helped me to receive a scholarship to attend Kentucky State University where I majored in English, Creative Writing and Theatre. While in College I participated in several local theatrical productions and I was selected to attend theatre conferences in Atlanta, Chattanooga and throughout the Southeast. I was also a part of several organizations including Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. After graduation I decided to travel to Atlanta to start my journey. Arriving in Atlanta greeted me with many challenges. I was faced with fear, uncertainty, loss, homelessness, and at one dark point I even doubted God. These challenges caused me to almost give up on the arts but God never gave up on me. He kept nudging me to focus on my passion and with His help, I did. So the journey continued. God placed different people in my path to keep me moving forward closer and closer to my purpose. Since then, I have grown as a person and as an actress and I am now exactly what God has destined me to be. I have overcome my challenges within and I will never stop pursing my passion. I have worked professionally as an actress in countless productions and as a result of my love for storytelling and creative writing, I’ve also written over 100 poems, many that have been registered with the Library of Congress. Today I am clear on who I Am as a woman and I express my true character with complete liberation on a daily basis. I strive daily to exemplifies my strength, identity and purpose in my life for others. I am unapologetic on who “I AM” as a Woman and letting my voice be heard. Though this journey has had its ups and downs, I am motivated to conquer life intentionally with purpose. For I know that with God, nothing is impossible!!! If I can succeed so can you!!! I hope that my words will encourage you and keep you motivated to succeed on you life’s journey and achieve your ultimate purpose.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I work a lot so I don’t get out as much, however, there are a few spots that I go to from time to time. If you love poetry, real music and good food, on Tuesday nights I love going to and event called “Soul Café” at the Black Diamond Lounge. It’s hosted by a good friend Ken Warner who always have such great acts come to grace the mic. Kat’s Café in midtown is always a great spot to listen to live music and they have awesome drinks. I love going to Loca Luna’s to salsa dance with my friends. As far as restaurants goes, I love going to “Rosie’s Café” for brunch, Busy Bees for dinner and even Boogalou restaurant where they have swinging chairs. I also love going to the “Battery” in Marietta because they have awesome restaurants. Since I work for the “NBA HAWKS” …. I recommend going to a game and having a great time dancing alongside the “Flight Crew”. Going to Ponce de Leon Marketplace is always fun, and they have games on the roof. These are just some of things that I would do.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well the first person I want to thank is GOD!!! God has blessed me beyond measure and it shows through my life. His unspeakable grace, love and mercy over my life has allowed me to never give up on the Woman I was born to be. Secondly, there are several people (my village) that have played a part in my success and without them, I don’t think I’ll be the person I am today. I would like to thank my Family & extended Family for all their support and unconditional love… particularly my parents. Dad & Mom, you don’t get enough credit, but I want to state that you are AWESOME Parents and I thank God for you!!! I would like to thank my best friends and other friends for their friendship, their laughter and their loyalty. I want to thank my artsy family for challenging me, pushing me and encouraging me to be a better person, as well as a better Actress. I want to thank my work family for always encouraging my dreams of Acting and reminding me that I won’t have to work my 9 to 5 much longer!!! In addition, I want to thank my cousin Tiffany for always being there for me, acting like a Sister and always encouraging me on my dreams. I also want to give a special BIG shout-out to all my nieces, nephews and five of my younger brothers!!! I pray that through my life you may see an example and never forget that with God as your foundation, NOTHING is impossible. This world is going through a lot of challenges but always remember that when you step out in faith and align yourself with God’s vision for your life, your “risk” will be achieved by greatness. Always remember there is truth in your words and power in your steps. Never allow anyone, not even yourself to hinder your steps. Love others always be compassionate and be confident with who God created you to be. There is always someone watching and needing what you can offer this world…your testimony. So never be afraid of the unknown. Embrace life’s challenges with a champion mentality, with a smile on your face, with love in your heart and a determination to defeat the odds against you. Your purpose isn’t just aligned with your greatness but it’s align with truth that is bigger than yourself to encourage others. May God bless everyone reading this today and may you be encouraged to take a risk for your own greatness in life. Peace and Blessings to you all!!!
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Seward Jartu J. Alston