“I am a happy life-long learner” — Chrishaunda Lee Perez
Chrishaunda Lee Perez is a creator. writer. producer. thought leader. friend. Chrishaunda is one of the most thoughtful, kind, interesting and authentic people I have had the honor of getting to know over the past year and I’m thrilled to share her advice with all of us below.
Amy Powell: Is there one piece of advice that you wish your 9 year old self would give you today that would make an impact on your career?
Chrishaunda Lee Perez: I’d tell my 9 year-old self that she is perfect just the way she is- a nerdy, quirky, nice, and curious girl- and remain that way because life will show itself to be way cooler when it matters most if she does.
Amy: Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? how did you bounce back?
Chrishaunda: I quit my first job out of college when I was 22 years old without having a backup. Up until that point I had not experienced a low point in achievement. The experience was humbling, and taught me a lot about being a grownup. I bounced back mainly because the fire that was put under my feet as a result of not having a job got hot very quickly!
Amy: How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Chrishaunda: When I quit that first job and eventually found another, in time I became extremely comfortable with it, meaning there was no room to grow. I realized how much I appreciated having a sense of independence and the ability to reach my highest potential. Only this time I was smart enough to forge a new path while still being employed, which helped my risky transition. Taking a risk requires planning and hard work to follow, but sometimes you don’t have a security net, which I would experience later on as well. Still, one must forge ahead. I was lucky to have been able to grow independently in phases, making the embracing process not as shocking, though it is something I asked for.
Amy: What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
Chrishaunda: I believe the most important something I have learned about leadership is how paramount it is to listen and learn. Why it is so important to Soak in every bit of wisdom you can from people who know better than you, from those who have “been there, done that”. That sort of learning is sometimes even more valuable than learning from a textbook, because real application of a skill is where you adapt the necessary traits to being a leader. Many people assume the key to leadership is dictating. How can one do so much talking if they don’t take the time to learn and listen? When you do these things, only then, I believe, will you be an effective leader who has actual tools to share with others.
For me, Learning and listening has proven invaluable every time I am posed with a decision for which I might not have much context or history of my own to help me choose what is the best thing to do. First, I always go with my gut, but I also rely on what I have been taught to help guide me in the right direction. Has not failed me yet.
Amy: What is the most fun part of your job?
Chrishaunda: The most fun part of my job is the having the opportunity to create. I am a happy life-long learner, and LOVE it when I am introduced to a new way of doing something, a new inspiration to write about, a new way to express or share a story on screen. For years I wrote essays and screenplays and manuscripts, using tools to help me get better technically and creatively at the craft. Today I execute these things that I do out of sheer curiosity, joy, and concern, and have the potential to earn a living doing it. That is what I call FUN.
About Chrishaunda Lee Perez
Chrishaunda Lee Perez is a published author, film producer, creator and orator with 20+ years of experience in entertainment and arts.
She began in front of camera, first serving as a correspondent for the “Oprah Winfrey Show”, and later as a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight”.
After one season at “ET”, Chrishaunda served as a cohost for PBS’s “Animal Attraction TV”, produced by Pine Ridge Television, and previous episodes are currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Engaging behind the camera, Chrishaunda co-wrote and co-produced “The Forever Tree”, a film about a young woman’s quest to embark on a magical journey in search of understanding family secrets. The film was shown at a number of film festivals, including the Bentonville Film Festival, where it premiered in 2017 to rave reviews.
Enhancing her writer’s portfolio, Chrishaunda published two books. “Share The Dream” (2018) is a memoir of miracles about the transformative power of one ordinary woman’s extraordinary faith. “Share The Dream” earned media attention and has reached countless people who were inspired by the true story. A follow-up written work, her debut novel, “We Come as Girls, We Leave as Women” (2018), about the complex journeys of teenaged girls who are approaching womanhood, broadened Chrishaunda’s public speaking platform throughout the country and internationally. Since the book’s release in 2018, she continues to be invited to engage audiences vast and intimate about empathy and connectivity as to pertains to women and girls.
Most recently, Chrishaunda Lee Perez completed season one of a lifestyle program called “The Young and Woke Show, or “Y&W with Chrishaunda Lee Perez” (2020) for streaming platform, Loco+. Chrishaunda not only created the show, she wrote the episode scripts, booked guests/talent, sourced and organized all b-roll, hired show contractors as per the budget, organized show segments, managed editing both for visual and audio, virtually overseeing the entire season of episodes.
In addition, Chrishaunda serves as the contributing editor for an upcoming 2022 official iconography about the life of Billie Holiday, titled, “Lady Day” through British publisher Rocket 88, and is in collaboration to develop other written screen works.