So I spent the weekend hanging out at the “Future of Entertainment” conference at MIT. It was filled with all of the most prominent and accomplished men and women in the transmedia fields. Theorists and professors like Henry Jenkins (who writes “Confessions of an Aca-Fan”), authors and inventors like Grant McCracken, and, a woman who really caught my eye, Molly Bingham, a photo journalist. This is a woman who has photographed the wake of the Rwandan genocide and the inside of an Iraqi prison and has just recently hung up her camera in order to dedicate herself to creating a more ethical way of transmitting global news. She is amazing.
Needless to say I was feeling highly inadequate. Here I am sitting in a lecture hall at one of the top universities on the planet. I mean, I was surrounded by classrooms with signs that said “Nano Tech” and “Neuro Research” on the doors and I barely made it through high school; it was humbling to say the least. Breaks between the speakers included stale coffee, a granola bar, and me standing against a piller staring in awe at the immense brain power surrounding me.
Luckily I had my three dear friends Mark Warshaw and Mauricio Mota (founders of The Alchemists) and Mark Vicente (director of “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and the new documentary “Incendiar el Corazon”) to remind me that we are all there with the same intention, armed with different specialties. It was then that I allowed myself to see the true awesomeness of what was being discussed as well as to recognize my place amongst the rest of the larger team. I could see the value of their skills in conjunction with mine and the beauty of our potential relationships.
Online communities and all the new forms of technology currently bursting forth are fascinating to me. The reason I was at the conference to begin with was an effect of Smallville and the way the fandom embraced and supported the character I worked so hard to build and portray for ten years. The power of the media became obvious to me when my friend Tabby Chapman began doing successful fundraisers for a young boy who was struggling with cancer through the online group she established, (allisonmackonline.com). She was able to raise astonishing support — this wasn’t your average bake sale. It blew me away. So I have many of you readers to thank for introducing me to this new world.
I have spent my life waiting for someone to give me permission to speak. As an actor you are told when to speak and where to go; the idea of having your own voice and expressing yourself without the validation or platform of a project or a studio is something I was not familiar with. It felt like all of a sudden someone gave me a mega phone, with no strings attached. A mega phone that people would hear, and listen to. A megaphone that made me speechless.
Mark Warshaw then sat me down over pancakes at a funky cafe on Ventura Blvd. and asked, “What do you want to do with your career, what kind of message do you want to support?” Once I answered, he then proceeded to build an online show, The Chloe Chronicles, in support of this vision. From this spawned the amazing organization “Inspire, Believe, Give”, which is currently thriving, as well as a TV commercial called “Legendary Chloe”, and a large network of young women working to build and grow themselves in ways they never thought possible.
So the conference came to a close and after dancing the samba with Mauricio Mota and the other Brazilian members of The Alchemist team I landed back at home. The following morning, while drinking my morning chai and browsing my tumblr page I started to digest all that I had heard, seen, and read. The opportunity to be heard with these toys is insane, and somewhat overwhelming. It is so interesting to me because I have always been so excited about the idea of being a proactive participant in making the world a better place, yet I had no idea what to contribute.
What I now see is that with these tools we are capable of making an impact in the world that is so far beyond paper letters or even emails. Within seconds we can send information around the world. We can relate to a person on the other side of the planet as if they were in our homes with us. The opportunity to share our objectives and ideals is amazing.
Then the overwhelming fear sets in. “What if I say the wrong thing? What if I make something worse in an attempt to make something better? What if I am not consistent? And what do I believe and want to say anyway?” The pressure weighs in and the paralysis of my desire for perfection tears (full incisors), chews and swallows all that potential. I sink into my room and continue to wait for the next audition. Give the mega phone to someone stronger, louder, smarter, and more self assured. Continue life as a parrot and affirm my belief that the world is a movie to watch, not a story to tell.
But then I open my lap top. I lift my technological tool box and I begin to search. I start to use it to remind myself what it is that inspires me. I look at people like Molly Bingham, Pema Chodron, Abigail Disney, and Leyma Gbowee. In wielding this tool of modern technology these women are expressing themselves but the key is they are doing it in the ways that are most true to them.
I see now I can’t possibly fix the entire world all at once. I’m an actress not a warlock. But doing nothing is no longer an option. So I begin at the beginning.
I will stumble and make mistakes, but that is part of the growing process, and the permission we give ourselves to make that okay creates a more courageous and compassionate world.
I will find my voice. I will share it. And if I share it with as much truth and passion as possible maybe I can help others do the same.
And so begins this experiment.