Our personal journeys are an ever-evolving story of reflection and growth. Developing an understanding of who we are and creating a sense of self awareness provides us with the ability to custom design our future. It’s a powerful statement and not always easy, but with time, patience and effort, the results can be stunning.
This lesson can be seen in the life and career of Alyson Stoner. As a musician, actress and dancer, her journey is already impressive. Stoner’s had acting roles in both television and film, including “Cheaper By The Dozen” and “The Suite Life Of Zach And Cody”. She’s also been a featured dancer for Missy Elliott, Eminem and Will Smith.
Reflecting upon her life, Alyson decided she no longer needed to prove herself to anyone and personifying these negative emotions only slowed her down. With this realization in mind, Alyson started a new chapter in her life story. In an effort to better understanding the music and the individual behind it, I talked with Alyson about her journey, her experiences and where she plans to go from here.
It’s great to speak with you, Alyson! Being an actress, dancer and musician, you have quite the impressive resume. What got you interested in the entertainment industry?
Thanks for chatting! You’ll have to go with me down a short trail for context… I was seven when my career started; I’m unsure if I can supply any mature insight beyond the emotional development of a child who was passionate about a hobby. Also, if we’re being candid, I think the draw to such an extreme and visible career often has just as many shadow sides as it does bright lights, and I’m no exception. I think initially I simply felt at home on stage, but as I grew up, was surrounded by a mixture of honest passion and crippling pressure, heartfelt inspiration and demanding perfectionism, artistic expression and shame-filled facades… Today I can say I am freely and wholeheartedly grateful for art and for a job in the arts.
You released a few singles this year, with the most recent being “That Boy Is Mine” in late August. Would you say music is your main focus right now, or do you enjoy working on different projects at the same time?
I dedicated the majority of this past year to music development in order to elevate it to a comparable place with my film, television, and dance experience. I am aspiring toward a multi-faceted career that allows me to exhaust all skills and abilities and hopefully reaches many lives because of its diversity.
Let’s talk about your music and maybe the inspiration behind it. You were quoted saying that after 15 years in entertainment, you reached the “formidable transition to adulthood” and that your biggest obstacle wasn’t the industry (or competition) but yourself. That’s a very powerful statement. Take me through this realization and how has this impacted your current sound?
Ha, how long do you have? This is a very painful journey, for starters. And it’s still unfolding. I have, for survival and other reasons, learned a lot of tactics for self-defense, self-preservation, growth and success. I’ve placed undue amounts of responsibility and blame on myself for why my career doesn’t match the tireless hours I invest in it. About three years ago, the process of being fed up began. Fed up with being second position in every project when the performance and feedback consistently warrant more challenging material.
Overlooked, undermined, undervalued, taken advantage of, silenced, feeling like I had to prove myself and convince others I have worth. I realized my life would continue to reflect “second fiddle” as long as I accepted and perpetuated that perception. And deep down I know I have more to offer. It’s not about being first as much as fulfilling my potential. So, I had to start rewiring my thinking, readjusting my approach, assessing the problem and becoming a part of my own solution, because nobody will do that work for you. I’m now trying to build the right team around me so we can work from a healthier, balanced construct that covers more territory and utilizes everyone at his greatest capacity.
I would imagine many individuals could relate to your story. How would you encourage others to develop the same type of confidence and inspire them to be bold and achieve their dreams?
Oh, yes. We all relate. I am learning the same lessons, just in my own context. Honestly, become self-aware (I recommend doing this through the support of a community). Pursue wholehearted living in which you understand who you are, your origins and environment and influences, dreams and goals. Examine your social life, family life. Identify your fears, anxieties, habits, strengths.
Once you get a grip on your personal filters and points of view, you are also freed to let go of them, change, modify… become a writer, not just subject, in your story. Also, please know… I didn’t necessarily have confidence when I started this path. Things felt foreign and uncomfortable and scary. It’s deciding to take the step anyway. You’re stronger than you know.
In my opinion, you can hear that aforementioned confidence in the lyrics and vocals of “That Boy is Mine.” Take me through how you came up with the song and its concept.
Haha. I was cheated on. Point blank. After that, I had a new appreciation for why people get jealous. Granted, much of it can be petty and insecure, etc. But some of it is just a reaction to loving someone. I decided to blend them all into a crazy, territorial, passive aggressive satirical pop song.
You have a lot of connections to Missy Elliott in terms of dance, but would you say she influences your music?
She’s influenced me as a person, and I admire her musicianship, but I wasn’t directly downloading her taste and style for my project. I have plenty of my own colors and tools with which to create!
Alright, final question. What do you have planned for your fans for the rest of this year and in 2017?
My EP “While You Were Sleeping…” releases October 28th. I have two films in production. I’m traveling with I Pour Life to Ethiopia to continue teaching trades and sustainability in the village of Korah. I’m also looking to release more personal videos on YouTube. Just tired of holding it all in… and I’m ready for the next chapter!