The week of June 10, 2019 was a great week for inspiration in action – from Andre DeShields to Jeremy Lin to Gayle King – I need to savor and discuss, to recognize and celebrate these divine turtles always steady in the race; talented, dedicated and consistent, shining brightly but never known for demanding the spotlight. Generous of spirit, lifting everyone around them.
On June 9th, 73-year old Andre DeShields won the Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical for his role as Hermes in Hadestown – a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice by Anaïs Mitchell – and won my heart forever with these sage generous nuggets:
Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you.
Slow is the fastest way to get where you want to go.
The top of every mountain is the bottom of another so keep climbing.
DeShields is a national treasure who’s been hiding in plain sight for 50 years. He’s an actor, dancer, singer, writer, director, choreographer whose credits include The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Play On!, The Full Monty, The Jungle Book, choreographing shows for Bette Midler, writing and staging his own Broadway musical review Haarlem Nocturne…and he joined the inspiration gallery above my desk this week.
I remember the night in early February, 2012 when Jeremy Lin became an overnight sensation, “scoring 25 points, doubling his previous career high and outscoring his celebrity teammates Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudimire (NY Times). Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Time Warner Cable were in a tussle over carriage fees so games were blocked locally and my husband had to watch the Knicks around the corner at a neighborhood bar. He excitedly woke me up, “you won’t believe what just happened!!”
We were still discussing what happened – and the birth of Linsanity – the next morning as we drove to our son’s hockey game. Full disclosure, I am more hockey than basketball and kept asking, how could you have someone that talented on your bench and not know it? That would never happen in hockey…over the years many sports fans have given me the hairy eyeball over this statement. Debating the sports industrial complex is a conversation way above my pay grade but I still stand by it and have been #TeamLin since 2012. I took almost a maternal sense of pride at his 2019 NBA Championship win with the Raptors over the Golden State Warriors.
In 2011, before Lin sparked the Knicks and became a household name (in basketball houses, at least) he said this:
“I always told myself my progression is gonna be become a rotation player, become a starting point guard and then win an NBA championship. And people are definitely going to laugh when they hear that. They’re not going to be laughing if it actually happens.”
It took 8 years and 8 teams and he may have only clocked 27 minutes in the NBA finals but Jeremy Lin is a Master of Manifestation. I’m not laughing. I’m cheering. As a coach who believes deeply in the power of energy and how we choose to show up, it’s Jeremy Lin’s energy, passion and presence I want on my bench.
I don’t remember when I first heard of Gayle King. But the fact that 64-year old Gayle is in the prime of her broadcasting career and not (forced) out to pasture deserves billboards, flashing lights and parades. It’s. A. Big. Deal. As Robin Givhan wrote in her WAPO profile, “getting to this moment – being the star anchor of CBS This Morning – has been a slow, steady build that suddenly lurched into overdrive.”
For years Gayle was known for her relationship with Oprah, as the official best friend. Then slowly that changed. Still the best friend – because loyal and kind are what you get with Gayle – “King is, perhaps, what the culture needs right now: a soothing voice of reason, an adult who isn’t drowning in cynicism, who is still capable of being let down by her fellow humans if only because she still has faith in them.”
In my years working as a casting director and talent executive I have never heard anyone say an unkind word about Gayle King. And that is saying something.