Alyson Stoner | Actress, Singer, Dancer, Entrepreneur
Introduce yourself to us through one of your favorite dances you’ve choreographed.
I'm Alyson Stoner, actress-singer-dancer-entrepreneur. Above is my viral tribute to Missy Elliott, a nod to having performed in her music videos as a child, which served as a launching pad for my career.
You started working at a very young age. How do you think that has shaped your career as well as your ability to have a work/life balance?
It stifled my imagination early. My sense of play was replaced with pragmatism and strict schedules, intense patterns of perfectionism and winning approval (audition rooms, critics, fans), unhealthy and traumatizing circumstances that led to bed rest and in-patient medical treatment, and an artificial, empty shell of a self. I didn't understand balance even slightly, and former teams as well as the industry weren't interested in my well-being. I was scared of and unfamiliar with happiness, severely depressed through my childhood and teens, socially awkward having lacked traditional schooling and peer integration, and constantly finding self-help books to cope.
I have since deconstructed the infrastructure of my business, team, mind, body, and spirit, fought long and hard to undo patterns, reprogram, and be led with a whole new purpose and vision. And no one can do that work for me.
Discipline is something that goes hand in hand with professional dancing (as well as many other professional arts). Has that discipline influenced your work ethic throughout the years?
Yes. I'm grateful for my strength in identifying goals, creating action plans, and following through, even amidst discomfort, failure and fear. However, I often pushed myself through grueling training and didn't tap into a deeper consciousness and awareness. Discipline is necessary, but must be fused with Wisdom, Vision, Maturity, Joy, Curiosity and many other things for it to remain an asset and not turn into a slave driver.
Why is it important to you to share the message of a healthy lifestyle through your work?
Let's be clear about my definition of health. It's not cosmetic, it's not superficial. It doesn't come in a pill or by scalpel. It's inside-out wellness. It's mindfulness that leads to compassion and empathy for people, the environment, animals. It's ridding your body of harmful stress and freeing yourself to be your best and thus most capable of helping other people. It's loosening the chains of addictive, destructive habits. I share my message about health because I was burning myself out and likely cutting off years with my old lifestyle, and I'm only 24. I want people to be healed and whole, aware of their worth so they can fight for what matters and live out their fullest potential. The world is much bigger than our individual problems, but our problems feel like the entire world until we deal with them.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you’ve learned from?
Playing small. Did you know I've been in more than 50 movies and shows, and just a few months ago was told by industry executives that the best available opportunity I should hope for (if I got lucky) was an audition against 1,200 other people for a 1-line guest role as Hot Girl #2 on an off-network show that'd likely be canceled halfway through season one? That's not because I don't have the talent or experience. It's because I didn't have a team who believed in me, a strategy for growth, or the belief that I was worth more. I had a pattern of booking #2 roles and B (versus A) storylines, knowing I was more capable than most, yet backing down and letting others shine. What a waste. No more!
What is one project you’ve never had the opportunity to do but would love to work on?
I have a Grammy award-winning album in my bones. I have transformative films in my DNA. And I hope to create content that elevates the public consciousness, empowers and brings unity across cultures and lifestyles.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, what do you do to build yourself back up?
You and Fear, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt are seated in chairs across from each other. They all know something about you that you don't know about yourself because you're afraid to ask. Ask them why they're there. Fear is trying to protect you from being hurt, Insecurity and Self-Doubt don't know any better and follow whatever tape they've picked up over the years. Lean into Fear, not away from Fear. Become curious about the deeper beliefs attached to those insecurities and doubts. Thank them for trying to be loyal helpers, relieve them for the time-being, and find constructive affirmations to combat and retrain your perspective. Eventually you see them for what they are - parts of you along for parts of the ride, not a mountain in your way.
I've made my own toolbox and I'm far more resilient than before. I use sleep hypnosis affirmations, books from authors like Brene Brown, meditation, therapy. I usually have to eliminate thoughts of comparison weekly and dig even deeper for revelation about my truest path. Whatever it takes, the obstacles aren't winning and they know it. I learn what I need to learn from them and then get on with my higher calling.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Unfortunately, I didn't have a single dream of what I wanted to be. I was terrified that it meant I was going to die young. Now I'm just disappointed that my upbringing didn't nurture a sense of fun, creativity and purpose. Moving on!
What would your dream job title be?
Professional Lightbeam, maybe? I imagine a powerful surge of electricity and vitality, something that illuminates, pierces through darkness, brings hope, goes on and on.
If you could share any business advice with our readers, what would it be?
Do your personal work sooner than later - I mean it. Your subconscious controls more than you think, and you want it working for you, not against you. Figure out what you really want - that's the hardest part for many. Force yourself to be hyper-specific. Immerse yourself and your schedule in action plans that bring your vision to fruition. Learn your chosen market. Know your audience better than they know themselves. Know your narrative and mission statement. You know what you need to do. And if you don't, start teaching yourself to figure it out. Don't make excuses. You're a powerhouse. A fountain. A butterfly, whichever imagery suits you.
And on a typical LFC note, what does being an entrefemmeur mean to you?
I suppose it means we've made it pretty damn far, ladies. Kudos. It also means we're now accountable and responsible for the accessibility of knowledge that leads to equal opportunity. No more hiding, beauty. Your time is now.