BOOST is a career guidance program from Off The Lane that launched in September 2020. In today’s vlog, we sit down with BOOST Co-Chairs Ayana Bey and Jillian Vitko as they answer questions from Off The Lane’s community and give a little more insight into their program. Both are NYC based multi-hyphenated artists…and then some! Ayana is an actor, voiceover artist, podcaster, and mentor. Jillian is an actor, singer, musician, writer, comedian, and teacher. They each use their years of experience in the industry to advise BOOSTers and help them achieve their career goals. Join them in their chairs as they chat all things BOOST!
Chatting with Co-Chairs in Chairs. We’re Chatting with Co-Chairs in Chairs, yeah.
Jillian Vitko: Hello
Ayana Bey: Hello, Hello! Welcome to Co-Chairs in Chairs! (pointing down to her chair) You can’t see mine but it’s there.
Jillian: We are the BOOST co-chairs, we’re sitting in chairs, and we’re gonna chat. So we’re here to answer your questions. Any other questions, you know, just give us a shout. We’re always here, sitting in your chair.
Ayana: Exactly, this exact chair.
Jillian: This chair, only this chair.
Who can apply to BOOST?
Jillian: So one of the big things was, how do I become a BOOSTER? How do I apply? What do I need to have done? What experience do I need? All that stuff. So we;re going to talk a little bit about it.
Ayana: To become a BOOSTER, you need to be at least 18 years or older. That’s our minimum age. Then be living in NYC for at least a couple of years, and have pounded the pavement, if you will, for lack of a better term, and kind of know New York City surroundings. You;ve kind of built a community, kind of know where you’re going in your career, but you’re looking for what we call a little BOOST. You know, a little bit of, a little BOOST. For us, we say you know, we’re helping you organize your career, not necessarily create it. So we do want someone who’s been in the city for a couple of years before you apply.
Jillian: Yeah, so you kind of have an idea of where you’re going, you just need help kind of expanding your network, or organizing, or kind of reassessing your what you’re doing, but you already have the groundwork laid. Help make lists, all the post-its, you know.
Ayana: All of the post-its.
Jillian: It’s what we’re here for, mainly the post-its.
Jillian: We know that no two people are the same, and…
Jillian: …..that it does take work on your part, you know?
Jillian: So that’s why we want people who’ve kind of already started this, because it’s not easy to be an artist in New York, and someone who knows that and is gonna be able to be more open to change and adapting what they’re doing.
Ayana: Right. Exactly, exactly, and it’s like you are going to get out of it what you put in. So if you’re ready to be like “Okay, I have these three different pots on the stove, but I don;t know which one to stir first, I don’t know what ingredient to add to what, that’s what we’re here to help you do; but it is you put in as much as you want, and that’s what your gonna get out…
Jillian: Exactly, right, ‘cause we lift you up, we give you the BOOST, but like you gotta fly. Right?
Ayana: Right , right.
Jillian: You gotta do, you gotta take it the rest of the way.
Ayana: Exactly, exactly.
Jillian: So, apply on our website. The thing is it’s a case by case basis, so.. If you’re thinking about it, do it,
Ayana: Do it.
What does a typical day/week look like for BOOST?
Ayana: Hmmmm. I wouldn’t use the word typical.
Jillian: No, there’s no typical in BOOST.
Ayana: There’s no typical.
Ayana: We always text each other, “Okay what does your week look like?” When can we set up our meeting for the week to see what we need to do for BOOST. Are we meeting with BOOSTers this week? Are we planning an event? Are we in-taking somebody and helping customize their plan? Which actually I think we didn;t mention before was like, if you are accepted as a BOOSTer, we are making you a customized plan. We ask you very in depth questions . Questions that you need like introspection, and we give you a week to answer them, and after that then we come up with a personalized plan for you. So some weeks we’re like, “Oh, we’re not meeting with a BOOSTer”, but we have to come up with so and so’s plan, or goal. What’s their end goal over these four to six months? How can we break this down to help them? So, yeah, our week is not typical at all. Not at all.
Ayana: ..but we kind of love it.
Jillian: I was just gonna say that’s the way we like it. You know, and might I add, we may have been called career therapists once or twice. I mean..”career therapists”..we’re not licensed therapists!
Ayana: Not at all.
Jillian: We have to say that.
Jillian: What we do is like a form of therapy on your career in that it’s not, it’s not gonna be the same for any two people, so we have to be flexible. So it’s like you said, it’s based on who we have and what we have to do, and what the situation is. So that’s our “typical” schedule.
Tell me more about the “Cool Aunts” of Off The Lane!
Jillian: So we got a few questions about how we have been named the “Cool Aunt” of Off The Lane.
Jillian: Yeah, and people want to know more about the cool aunts! That’s kind of all we got, just tell us more.
Jillian: So it’s open ended, I guess it’s just like, why are we so cool? I don’t know.
Ayana: I guess. How do you answer that question of why you’re so cool?
Jillian: You know, it’s kind of hard to explain, right!
Ayana: It is! I mean I kind of think of it as…cause I do, I have a very big family, so I have a couple of cool aunts. But you know that aunt you can go to and be like “Okay, what’s your opinion about this?” and they give you the real answer. But also like, “My mom and dad said I can’t do this.”(Dismissive hand wave like a cool aunt) “Child, what you need?” They will do it for you behind your parents’ back. I got a couple of those.
Jillian: For sure, for sure. Yes.
Ayana: So we’re gonna do it behind your parents’ back!
Ayana: You can do that. ..”Oh, but they said I couldn’t create.” “You couldn’t do what?” We got you!
Jillian: You have.. We give you the permission to do anything! Right, because it’s like, I mean, that’s deep right? When I really think about it. It’s like, people don’t give themselves permission to do things in their career. We give you that permission. We’re the cool aunt going “Baby, go fly!” You know what I mean?
Ayana: Yes. Yes.
Jillian: Be who you are. Yeah, that’s exactly it!
What are your favorite colors?
Ayana: My favorite color is purple. I love purple. Love it, love it, love it. I like a royal purple all the way up to a lavender. I’m a purple girl.
Jillian: I actually am wearing my favorite color. My favorite color is yellow. And, you know, this isn’t me sucking up to our parent company, but like a mustard yellow is truly my favorite.
Ayana: Yes, and those colors go very well together.
Jillian: They do!
Ayana: Purple and Mustard go very well,
Jillian: That’s true.
Ayana: And then add a little turquoise in there, those are my three favorite colors together.
Jillian: Yes, well, yeah! (shows her turquoise earrings) Maybe we have a color overhaul, and like use our favorite colors for a new BOOST logo.
Ayana: Ooh! You’re coming up with ideas.
If you were a BOOST advisor, what advice would you share?
Jillian: One of the things that we asked you, our community, was “What advice would you give if you were a BOOST advisor?”, and there’s a reason we asked that.
Ayana: Yeah, yes there is.
Jillian: First, we’ll start with some of the good advice that we got. So someone said the advice they would share is that it’s all a journey. The career, the transitions, and the people along the way. Which is kind of what we were talking about before. It’s like, what’s your intention? It is like to get to this end point? Or is it like, have this journey and create and grow and learn long the way and not be rushing to the end. You know? So that’s great advice, because you never really know…. you know, I always say, it’s not like, “Oh, I’m gonna be a lawyer and I gonna take-pass the bar, and be a lawyer” you know? Not that that easy, but it’s like, it’s a very clear path.
Jillian: Yeah, being an artist is not- there’s not one path. So it really is about the journey and it takes you to unexpected places if you’re open to it.
Ayana: Right. Yeah, that is, and it actually ties into the next one. A piece of advice someone shared was: realistic goal setting. So I think that does go along with knowing that being an artist is not linear. It is not, you do this, then this, then you do that. Great, I have my law degree. Great, I have my doctorate. We go in and out and all around and up and down.
Ayana: You know?
Ayana:.. And so realistically setting a goal, or setting goals that are realistic to our lifestyle.
Jillian: Yeah, like really think about why you’re doing it and then that will help inform your goals. Again they’re gonna be different, like you said, they’re gonna be different for everybody. There’s not a little later that you climb, you know? It’s topsy-turvy.
Ayana: Yes, it is. It’s a winding path but….
Jillian: The long and winding road!
Ayana: The long and winding road.
Jillian: What a great song
Ayana: But I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Jillian: No! No, like that’s the thing. I wouldn’t rather be a lawyer! No! God Bless the lawyers, but I don’t want that!
Ayana: Right! God Bless y’all but I don’t want that. That’s not my ministry though. I don’t want that.
Jillian: No, no. So, right! So revel in that.
Jillian: It takes this different strain of motivation, you know?
Ayana: Yes, it does.
Jillian: To kind of keep pounding the pavement as an artist.
Jillian: So, we’re happy to be able to offer BOOST, to boost you when things get rough, AND the whole point of asking what advice you would give as a BOOST advisor is because….
Jillian: We’re accepting applications for BOOST advisors.
Jillian: Yay! So, the application’s on the website, you can see what we’re looking for. Basically it’s kind of what we talked about before you know? Being able to be flexible, and listen to someone, listening to what they need, kind of using your own network to help a BOOSTer, and, yeah, being able to help them see a new perspective, right?
Jillian: ‘Cause that’s really all that we want to do at the end of the day, you know?
Ayana: Right, exactly. New Perspective, little bit of organization, maybe some accountability here, check-in,
Jillian: And post-its!
Ayana: Post it’s
Jillian: I mean that’s a keym that’s a key. If you don’t use post-its, don’t apply. I’m kidding!
Ayana: Don’t apply if you don’t use post-its. We’re just playing!
Jillian: Thank you guys for watching, listening.
Ayana: Thank you.
Jillian: Let us know if you have any other questions.
Ayana: Right, let us know. Maybe we’ll do another session of Co-Chairs in Chairs!
Jillian: Yes! Yes’ cause we’re still in chairs. On zoom. In 2021
Jillian: Yeah, so we’ll see you guys next time!
Ayana: Yeah, bye!
Chatting with Co-Chairs in Chairs. We’re Chatting with Co-Chairs in Chairs, yeah.