Zuri Adele | The 2022 MAKERS Conference

Zuri Adele at the 2022 MAKERS Conference

Video Transcript

- Please welcome Zuri Adele.


ZURI ADELE: So there's this recurring daydream I've had since I was a kid, and I'm seated in this meditation posture, I'm floating, like, fully supported by the air, and still. And there's this world of movement around me.

It's filled with celebration, ritual, chaos, grief, dogs, furniture, family, friends, romance, work demands, all the things. And there is this whirling tornado of all those things moving in this slow and fast-paced energy all around me. And somehow, in the midst of this swirling chaos, in that daydream, I am still so grounded, still, confident, and fully present.

So I've been trying to meet and merge with that grounded version of myself for my entire life. And today, I would love for you to join me on that journey. So as you saw on the screen, I have the honor and pleasure of portraying Malika Williams on Freeform's "Good Trouble."

And here's some of what you did not hear that was happening behind the scenes in those moments.

- Hey, team. We are losing sunlight. This is our last chance to get this shot.


- Is that cool?

- Paint is just text from the house.

- Dialogue. Just remember where these words trigger--


- Dogs actually aren't as potty trained--


- 14 hours and my feet are throbbing.


- Oh my god, is that my period on my day in the all white costume in the mountains?

- Don't stay in the sun too long, because you really can't be darker than you are if you want to work in this industry.

- Cameron just told me she has glaucoma.

- Remember, you are representing people who have never seen themselves on-screen this way before.

- And action.

ZURI ADELE: OK, yeah, let's take a collective deep breath in and a deep breath out. Whew. Yeah, that was because I needed it. Thank you very much.

Yeah, it's a lot. The pressure is relentless. And it's humbling. And you may relate to having several tabs open in your brain at one time with the work that you do.

So how do we reconcile all that chaotic energy with the confident, centered versions of ourselves that we aspire to? Well, I'm going to invite you to close your eyes. This is the part-- you've got an actor up here, so just close your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Keep your eyes closed. Breathe out.

And really feel your feet in the ground. Yeah, it's already changing things. Relax your shoulders. Relax your jaw. And get weird with it. We got our eyes closed. It's fine. Stick that tongue out, whatever you need to do.

You feel your seat underneath you, supporting you. Start to wiggle your toes. Wiggle your fingers. Wiggle your toes again slowly, slow motion through some peanut butter. And quickly.

And then wiggle them slowly again. And take one more breath in. One more breath out. Bless you. And now, open your eyes. OK. We good? We can keep going. OK. Good.

So my martial arts coach, Cody, he says, a leader is not a dictator. But a great leader is a great facilitator. So in order to be great leaders, we really have to be grounded enough to sift through our emotional experiences in real time and choose kindness and gratitude all in that same moment, especially when it feels impossible.

So in order to help do that, I really encourage you with each moment to ask yourself, through every decision around how you're going to invest your time, your talents, and your resources, what is the experience I want to have in this moment? What type of atmosphere and energy helps me feel like I can focus, strategize, execute, or replenish myself with as much ease and confidence as possible in this particular moment?

I felt a big challenge in this type of decision making at the beginning of COVID when my dad passed due to complications from sickle cell anemia. And because of the restrictions around COVID, he died very isolated and confused in the ICU. And my dad was a writer, an educator, a poet, an actor-- someone who really liked to be in community and surrounded by the love of people.

And I hosted his funeral on Zoom with my family. And at the end of the funeral, I closed my laptop and I was completely alone-- no hugs, no physical touch of support, no repass with my beautiful Caribbean family-- not in-person in the way that we may have expected that moment to be.

And so my wellness curriculum and toolbox was something that I was really able to lean on. And it's something that I was inspired to grow from that moment on-- just to always stay ready, and stay grounded, and find that version of myself in the daydream. And my wellness curriculum is long and strong, honey. I mean, we got gospel music, affirmation music, meditation, burning sage, Palo Santo, sweetgrass, sound bowls, martial arts, boxing, escrima, acupuncture, hiking-- all the things. All the things-- good food, with friends and family, intentional quality time, that physical touch is really important to me now.

And it seems like a lot, but we do a lot to create really complex strategies and solutions for everybody else's problems in our lives. That's in our work lives. I got an amen-- in our work lives and in our home lives.

So why shouldn't we create a complex strategy for our wellness and a complex curriculum. So give yourself permission to explore what your body, mind, and spirit are asking for in each given moment. And it does not have to be the same thing. So now I want you to take a moment and envision, you can close your eyes if you want to, or just zone out, but envision what your ideal wellness curriculum and practices feel like.

What's your atmosphere like that helps you get to that grounded place when you were wiggling your toes and relaxing in your jaw? What do you hear around you? What do you smell and what do you not smell? I just got two dogs, so it just came to my head.

Is anyone else there with you? And what can you adjust in your lives to just make one part of that curriculum start to happen maybe this week? Is there anyone in your life who you can support who can help support you in making that a reality? Can you take one step today? I know you can.

So once you put your own oxygen mask on, the next step is about helping others get grounded. Because let's be real-- how are we going to lean into our support systems if our support systems are feeling depleted? So we can create this cycle-- that drop in the ocean creates that ripple. And my best friend Chelsea, she reminds me that allyship, it changes experiences. But abolition changes systems. And we're here to change systems.


Amen. Go, Chelsea. That's my best friend. Yeah. So I really believe that our wellness journey is really about figuring out in the long run what kind of abolitionist you're going to be-- so doing well for you, pouring from your saucer, as my friend Britney says, and not from your cup, will help you show up and create your abolitionist practice.

So my character, Malika, who we saw in there-- as we saw, she's a very outspoken, unapologetic abolitionist who's on the front lines. And I am very inspired by her. And my form of abolition and activism is a little different. I choose to create and support funding initiatives for HBCU graduates to pursue their master of fine arts degrees.


Thank you. With a lot of support-- with a lot of community support. And I also love to lead yoga practices and create wellness experiences for and with my peers, who are multicultural, creative, queer, abolitionist people as well. And they support me.

So the consistency of my own wellness practice really allows me to support my community, which allows my community to support me. All right, last time-- close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your diaphragm and get all the way into the perineum. We just go deep. Just breathe in.

Yeah. Breathe out. Keep those eyes closed. And go to that daydream version of yourself, that grounded, unshaken version of you. How will you connect the dots between that confident, centered person and the chaos of that world around you?

What cause is most important to you? And who are you talking to within the community impacted by that cause who can let you know honestly if the support that you envision is actual support? What are you willing to invest and share to make this happen?

Is it time? Is it talents? Is it resources, connections? Where's your place of overflow from your saucer that you can pour into that cause?

Now, finally, I want you to envision someone you love and/or miss, and think of how proud they would be of you right now. You're leading, you're learning, you're setting boundaries, you're deciding, making all these decisions, sacrificing, bossing up, and getting grounded at the same time? They're proud of you.

OK, open your eyes if you haven't already. Just turn those cheeks up towards your eyes, see what happens. Yes, thank you. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey towards your daydream. Ashay.