My Experience On Live Television
As some of you may know, on Tuesday, August 30th, I was asked to appear in a segment on Democracy Now! surrounding the open letter I wrote to Mylan’s CEO about the astronomical price increase for the EpiPen. Had someone asked me to appear on live television two years ago, I would have said: “Absolutely not.”
Why? Because public speaking is one of my biggest fears.
A lot of people might assume that because I am an outgoing, loud and a boisterous person, I’d naturally be all over an opportunity to talk in front of large groups of people…or on live, national television.
This past March, Listen To Your Mother (a live show celebrating motherhood held across the United States and Canada) was holding auditions throughout North America. A friend reached out to me asking if I was going to audition. I immediately told her: “NOPE.”
I actually used the excuse that since there wasn’t an audition being held in San Diego, I couldn’t. However, she was quick to point out that there was an audition in Burbank, which isn’t too far from my home.
I then admitted to her the truth: “I am terrified of speaking in public. I can’t do it.”
And that’s when my dear friend, Hedia, hit me with this: “Well, that’s why I’m doing it. You have to do the stuff in life that scares you, Ashley!”
And you know what? She was absolutely right.
I auditioned, landed a spot as a cast member in the show, and preformed in front of nearly three-hundred people at The Colony Theatre in Burbank, California on May 1, 2016.
The performance empowered me, helped me break through that fear of public speaking, and was truthfully one of the best experiences of my life. However, I also had months to practice and prepare, not to mention, I had the piece I was reading in front of me during the performance.
However, national, live television is much different, I learned…
I sit in front of a computer all day in a very “safe” environment. I write bold words that impact people, however, I am given time to re-read them, edit them, and proof-read them until I think they are worthy for publication in my little corner of the internet. I’ll admit, I like my “safe” environment, however, I know it needs to be broken from time to time in order for me to stretch my wings.
So, when Democracy Now! came knocking, I opened the door and agreed to the interview.
Now, let me add that I literally agreed to an interview 12 hours before I was to be seated in front of a camera. I was on the phone with the producers at 4:15PM, and literally at the studio in downtown San Diego at 4:15AM twelve hours later. Television is FAST PACED, and it appears that’s the case in all areas from scheduling, make-up, hair, and… questions.
Questions. Yes, those words strung together usually directed at an individual, who then gives something known as an “answer/response.”
Or in my case, anxiety darts being shot at me, with what felt like, bullet-like speed while sweat dripped down my back.
“How does the EpiPen work?”
The above is probably the easiest question on the planet to answer. You probably just said in your head: “Simple. You stab it in your leg if you can’t breathe!”
Yet, it wasn’t a simple answer for me. I had a million possible questions running through my mind that the amazing Amy Goodman might ask me, but that wasn’t one of them. I was not prepared to answer that incredibly simple question and my brain froze. Thankfully, my mouth didn’t and it spouted something out, which prompted Goodman to re-ask her question.
It threw me off. In my mind, I knew I’d already screwed up, which sat front and center for the remainder of the interview, and only led to more flubs on my part. I felt like my heart was about to explode out of my chest, and every word coming through my ear piece was in Tagalog. I have never been so nervous in my entire life.
The interview was over in a matter of seconds and I sat there in that chair for a few minutes under the bright lights, which only magnified the heat pulsing through my entire body.
I drove home, knees still shaking, and once I arrived at home, I kissed my daughter goodbye as she left for school and I crashed in my bed and slept for three hours.
When I woke up, I was terrified to see the segment. I’d lived it, so I was already prepared for what I was going to see.
Oh my God, no. It was so much worse.
Have you ever seen yourself tagged in a photo on Facebook that you had no idea you were in? One where your mouth is hung agape, one eye is closed, SPANX showing, yet some dear family member didn’t want to leave you out, so they tagged you in it and now everyone on your friends list has seen it, liked it and commented on it?
Magnify THAT feeling by ten million.
At first I thought that I could skate by without showing the segment to anyone. I thought “Hey, the internet is fast! No one will notice that I was on the show and this will be gone by tomorrow.” I thought FOR SURE that if anyone ever saw this segment, I’d never be asked to speak to anyone, anywhere EVER again.
My husband called to tell me he’d seen the segment and said that I’d done a great job.
“For not knowing the questions going in, I think you did a great job, Babe!” he said.
Of course he had to say that; he’s my husband!
I’d shared a photo (taken before the interview) from the studio that morning, so a few people knew I had done something on television. As I watched the segment (while ruthlessly picking apart each of my answers) and debated not sharing it for friends and family to see, I thought for a minute…
I thought that even though my television debut did not go at all as I’d anticipated, I still did it. I thought about that public speaking fear of mine and how I’d shut that fear down by rising to the challenge. I thought about the simple fact that is: I TRIED.
I thought about the fact that I went on national television and spoke not just for my daughter, but for many other parents, even if my voice was nervous and a bit tumbled. I thought about the fact that I, a 32-year-old mom from San Diego, California, used my shaky voice to bring awareness to a much larger issue.
This interview wasn’t about me. This interview was about an issue that deserves national attention- and I did that. I got up there and did my damn best to put that out there into the universe.
So, I decided to share the interview on my social networks. I shared my shaky, nervous interview with a preface that I didn’t do the best job, and thankfully, aside from a rude comment about my appearance, the response was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
People poke fun at me when I talk about my “internet friends.” Yet, let me tell you, those “internet friends” of mine are some of the most encouraging, uplifting, KIND individuals I have in my life.
Of course, family and friends reached out to me with kind words, too, but I will never discount the relationships I’ve made on-line. To each of you who lifted me up when you knew I needed it, THANK-YOU.
Life is strange and has a tendency to throw you a mix of opportunities and curveballs. This experience furthered my belief that we can’t duck every opportunity or curveball thrown our way that might intimidate or scare us. We have to step up and try new things- even if they scare the hell out of us. Sometimes we have to step up the plate, put out our glove, and try with all our might to catch. And hey, if we miss; if we drop the ball, that’s fine too- because there’s usually a cheering crowd behind you who will lift you up, and you’ll be encouraged to give it another go the next run around, and hopefully, if you’re lucky, hit a home run.
So, I share with any of you who did not see the segment, my first (and hopefully not last) experience on live television:
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