An INNER VIEW with Amanda Ashley Miess

An INNER VIEW with Amanda Ashley Miess

Sometimes self-centeredness can look like striving and having an internal hyper-focus on yourself. If the focus is on you, you, you, then there might be a need for readjustment. Read this month’s INNER VIEW with producer Amanda Ashley Miess as she shares how she took the attention and pressure off of herself and put it where it belongs… back onto God.

 Bio:

Amanda Ashley Miess is a writing, producing, and directing triple threat who has over ten years of experience working in almost every facet of filmmaking. A creative storyteller and idea generator, she’s had her hands in film, TV, and digital media and has worked for some of the most influential names in the industry, including Jerry Bruckheimer, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Amanda has developed, produced and directed a host of digital kid-led variety shows for big brands such as Disney Princess, DC Kids, and Polly Pocket, with some videos reaching well over 1 million views. She also co-directed the Pure Flix mini-series The Power Couple, starring Alexa and Carlos PenaVega. She is currently a Senior Producer at Little Dot Studios, an award-winning digital content agency and media network owned by All3Media. A graduate of USC, she has also made several short films, including festival winners Silence Is Olden and Remember Me, winner of 9 awards at LA’s 168 Film Festival. A kid at heart with a strong passion for making influential content for today’s youth, Amanda loves to do anything a 12-year-old would do…. including but not limited to dancing, backflips, board games, crafts, and making goofy music videos.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: This industry is about “hurry up and wait.” How have you learned to wait on God and embrace His peace?

Amanda Ashley Miess: Has God ever “recently” taught you something that He’s actually been bringing to you layer by layer for years? I have! He is so patient. After spending way too much time trying to earn people’s respect and affirmation in this industry, I am finally starting to embrace the fact that I only need my Lord’s approval. I literally have a Google Drive that is 98% full with unproduced scripts, pitch decks, and story ideas. My Lord has shown me that my value comes from Him alone; all my giftings are from Him and are for Him. He will open the doors in His way and in His timing.

One vision He showed me years ago that I’ll never forget: I saw a dog pile of people clambering on each other to reach one key dangling from the ceiling. This is what succeeding in the entertainment industry often feels like. As I stood to the side, watching them climb over each other, fighting for that one key, the Lord told me to instead walk forward towards a small door that was shaped like me. Only I could fit through it, and I was the key. I have spent many years striving to reach that prized “key” hanging from the ceiling and have grown disappointed in God and my abilities when I have not obtained it. Recently, He has instilled in me a newfound peace and purpose. Even if I don’t have all the answers and I am still learning what my true purpose is in this industry, I know I am exactly where I need to be, and I know that even through the mundane, He is using me to bring His Kingdom on earth.

Kathleen: What do you do when it seems like God is silent and you can’t connect to Him?

Amanda: The times I feel most disconnected from God are when the enemy gets me to look at my human efforts and believe that my works aren’t good enough. Even in my spiritual walk, it is easy for me to believe that I am not praying hard enough, reading the Bible long enough, fasting enough, or ministering enough. I start to believe that nothing I do is ever good enough, and so I give up. That’s when I have felt like God is silent, or I am not close to Him. I think that I need to improve my relationship with God and work harder at loving Him and serving Him. But the truth is that if I believe what Jesus did on the cross puts me in right standing with my Heavenly Father, then I am in right relationship with Him right now! Even if I’m not “feeling it,” I am connected. I am pleasing to Him. Every little thing I do for Him or every thought towards Him counts. He is still moving in my life, and progress is being made. When I remind myself of that truth, connecting with God is easy. He’s right there, and I’m right there with Him. (more…)

Welcome Kelsey Guerra, The New Nashville Coordinator

Welcome Kelsey Guerra, The New Nashville Coordinator

Meet Kelsey Guerra, the new coordinator for Influence Lab Women Nashville!

Bio: Kelsey grew up acting professionally in Hollywood, signing with her first agent at the age of seven. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Vanguard University and pursued a Broadway, TV, and Film career in New York upon graduating. Her work eventually brought her back to Hollywood, where she co-founded thisishardtoread Productions and is an award-winning producer, writer, and actor on the award-winning feature comedy/mockumentary film, RE-OPENING.  Favorite career highlights include LIFE PARTNERS (Tribeca & Sundance Film Festival), BLACK NOVEMBERTHE VERONICA MARS MOVIE (Vivica Fox), PAN AM (ABC), ROYAL PAINS (USA), and BAD TEACHER (CBS).

Kathleen Cooke: Tell us about you! What’s your story, and what do you do in the media and entertainment industry?

Kelsey Guerra: I am co-founder of thisishardtoread Productions with my husband, and we create comedies with heart. I’m a producer, writer, director, and actor – not necessarily all at the same time!

Kathleen: How and why have you gotten involved with Influence Lab Women as the new Nashville Chapter Coordinator?

Kelsey: I recently moved to the greater Nashville area from L.A./Hollywood for the main purpose of collaborating with like-minded industry professionals. I was tired of waiting for some “big break” that would never come, and after producing my own feature film during the pandemic, I realized that Hollywood and the industry is so much bigger than the box we put it in, and Nashville was the place where I felt called to create a movement with people who felt the same way. 

Kathleen: When is the Influence Lab Women Nashville launch, and what’s happening?

Kelsey: We are going to start with a small gathering of women at the end of October who are excited to get involved with our mission – to bring women in the industry together who want to encourage, uplift, and empower each other. Let’s get to know each other and bring together others who would like to have a local community of creators and industry professionals.

Reach out to me at: info@influencelab.com if you would like to be a part of the group. Once we have a core group of women, we can expand our reach to others who would also like to join us for a larger launch in January 2023.

Follow Kelsey: 
Website: thisishardtoreadproductions.com
Instagram: @kelseycookeofficial

An INNER VIEW with Executive Producer Victoria Slater

An INNER VIEW with Executive Producer Victoria Slater

Where do we get the confidence to push forward, take risks and negotiate without fear? Is it found in us, or in something bigger than ourselves? Read this month’s INNER VIEW as author and producer Victoria Slater shares about rooting herself in the “certainty of God”.

 

Bio

As the daughter of an Air Force officer, Victoria Slater spent her childhood traveling the world and gaining a passion for travel and world culture. She attained a BA in Theatre with minors in Business and French from Wright State University in Ohio, but spent a few post-college years working in chemical defense research. Yet, a lifelong dream to work in the film industry egged her on to Hollywood where Victoria worked over twenty years in the industry; she was also delighted when her new career took her back to foreign lands.

She spent a year in South Africa for TransWorld Pictures as a Production Executive and Director of Development, where she oversaw and negotiated distribution deals for the production of many feature films.

Victoria also has been part of the production teams on several independent and studio feature films and television series, including Twentieth Century Fox’s disaster film Volcano, Paramount’s Star Trek VII Generations, and Baywatch. She has also produced high-end projects ranging from commercials to short videos for private resorts and members-only clubs with the boutique post-production company, Moving Pictures, co-owned with her husband, Ken.

She is a proud member of the Producers Guild of America, where she served on the Board of Directors for nine years and chaired the mentoring program for over seven years. In 2007, Victoria was awarded the prestigious AP Council Commitment Award for her service to the PGA.

Victoria published her book, How To Negotiate Without Freaking Out, to encourage women to become better and braver negotiators. She loves God, her husband, and her two very spoiled little dogs. These are her non-negotiables.

 

INNER VIEW

 

Kathleen Cooke: You had a long and significant career working in entertainment. Looking back, what is the one thing you’d say was the most significant thing God taught you about the industry?

Victoria Slater: God taught me that He is in control. I have recently been reflecting on my past efforts to promote our business or my career that yielded no fruit. Yet projects seemed to come out of “left field” (aka from God). We have been very blessed and have done well, but I can never point to my efforts for our success. Now in making efforts to promote my book, I turn to God and ask, “what should I do?” A friend reminded me of the biblical passage in Luke 5:4, where the disciples had just returned from a night of fruitless fishing.

Jesus told them to put out into the deep and let down their nets for a catch. At first they argued with Him, but then did what He told them to do and took in an abundance of fish. That is what I am trying to do now – not go on my efforts but look to God first and follow His direction.

Kathleen: If you could tell your 20-something-self something that you know now, what would you tell her?

Victoria: “Pride goeth before the fall.” I look back on many opportunities I lost because of pride. I was given an incredible opportunity early in my production career when I was sent to South Africa as a production executive. When I returned to the States, I was a bit puffed up and turned down jobs that seemed a step back but would have led to much greater experiences. I cringe when I think of my poor judgment because I was so prideful.

Kathleen: We often aren’t honest with who we are and how God has wired us. We negotiate with Him on what we want (our will) and what He wants (His will). How can we become that authentic person and accept what He has called us to be and do?

Victoria: I love Psalm 139, especially verse 14 (NIV), which says, “I will praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I love people who dare to be their wonderful, unique, authentic selves. It can be hard sometimes. We are, by nature, herding animals. But I find people who are authentically themselves are the most fun to be around. So, I strive to be honest and authentic with everyone I meet. And let my unique sense of humor and intellect shine through, for “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Kathleen: I love that. Especially because of the last half of that scripture, where David (the writer of Psalms) acknowledges the confidence that inward knowledge gave him. A career in media, entertainment, arts and leadership can be one of risky choices and uncertainty. Where did you find your certainty and confidence as a high-level executive making many strategic influential decisions in Hollywood?

Victoria: I was around twenty-five years old and had just broken up with my first serious relationship. We had been together for four years, and I was devastated. I was living in Dayton, Ohio working in government research on chemical defense. A friend saw how heartbroken I was and got an Air Force captain to invite me out to lunch. At that lunch, he started talking about God. God?! I didn’t want to hear about God. I wanted to be told how pretty I was. On the way back to my office, this Air Force captain asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus into my life. To this day, I can remember the feeling of standing on the edge of a precipice. If I accepted the offer, I would be jumping off a cliff. I wasn’t ready. So, I declined. Shortly after this, I was in Arizona on vacation. I was heading to California and couldn’t sleep, still upset over the breakup.

I took a walk in that arid climate and started to talk to God, and I had the overwhelming sense that He loved me and would take care of me. I accepted Christ into my life that night.

The Air Force captain will never know how much he influenced my life. You never know how God will use you to influence others. His confidence and certainty of who Jesus was in his life influenced me, and I couldn’t stop thinking of his invitation to know God personally in my life. And it’s God’s certainty living in me that still allows me to keep my confidence in Him as we continue to live in growing, uncertain times today.

 

Register Now for the Influence Lab Webinar with Victoria on Tuesday, August 23rd at 5:00pm PST!
The Art of Negotiation: How to Grow Your Confidence

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

Do you believe your unique voice can impact others? Does your silence or inability to embrace yourself leave a void that God created you to fill? Read this week’s INNER VIEW as Destiny Rambo Khouri shares her personal journey of a stifled voice turned powerful truth-teller.

BIO
Destiny Rambo Khouri is a sought after singer, worship leader, writer, artist, session vocalist, actress, teacher, and choreographer. She’s had a vibrant heritage of music and ministry. Her grandparents, Buck and Dottie Rambo, were pioneers in the Southern Gospel movement, and her parents, Dony McGuire and Reba Rambo were trendsetters in contemporary Christian music. All have received multiple Grammy and Dove Awards.

Destiny began traveling and singing with her parents as a child, but her work extends outside the gospel music realm and into theater. She has performed in dozens of productions and has sung on several original cast albums for Disney Theatrical, Sight And Sound Theater, and many others. Destiny has performed in multiple languages, including a project sung in Mandarin for Sea World Beijing.

In 2012, Destiny and her family’s group, Rambo McGuire, were privileged to win the Dove Award for bluegrass album of the year. In 2013, she released her highly anticipated solo album, Journal of a Songstress, and in 2020, she released a Christmas EP titled Oh Night Divine that was featured in the top 10 lists on iTunes and Amazon Music. Her most recent release was a single entitled Calvary Will Never Run Out Of Songs. She is also the writer and host of her weekly podcast and video series Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.

In 2018, Destiny married Joel Khouri, a producer, composer, and writer with hundreds of recording credits. Together they create music and art in exciting and out-of-the-box ways. They are the founders of The Rambo Family Gospel Hour, a quarterly music and ministry event live-streamed worldwide. Destiny and Joel live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their sweet puppy, Nora.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: A career in the music industry is often daunting. What has God taught you recently that keeps you going?

Destiny Rambo Khouri: God has been teaching me the power of using your voice. I grew up in a household of singers and naturally stepped into that role. I loved to sing but also knew I had a testimony to share. As a young girl, I survived multiple sexual assaults and physical abuse. I felt such a pull to share my story in a way that could be a lifeline for others. At that time though, there was such an atmosphere of suppression and secrecy surrounding trauma. Therapy was almost a curse word, and the overall narrative was to “walk by faith” by keeping the darkness you struggled with to yourself.

I felt like the Lord was calling me to begin a weekly series that would be a safe place to discuss faith, trauma, art, and story. I was young and excited and started to tell people I respected my idea, thinking they would be supportive. Instead, I met one shutdown after another. They said to me that no one wanted to hear me talk. That I was a singer and just needed to stick to that. They also strongly discouraged my testimony, like it was going to reflect poorly on my family’s ministry. I was crushed and sadly believed them. I continued to sing but kept my story to myself.

In the last couple of years, Divine has done profound work to remove the shackles from my tongue. In February, I launched “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.” Each episode focuses on a singular topic and the growth journey it’s led me on. I have been blown away by the response in such a short time! I realize now more than ever that people want something real.

Your voice is one of the greatest gifts Divine has given you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it! Scripture says that we are overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of our testimony. Your story might be the hope someone needs to believe that survival, healing, and restoration are possible!

Kathleen: Wow, Destiny! Thanks for being brave and sharing that. What would you say to someone in a dark place right now who needs hope?

Destiny: In the craziness of life today, it is easy to get drained. The expectations we all have weighing on us every day can get so heavy that before we know it, we are being crushed beneath them. Finding time to center my thoughts, spirit, soul, and body is not only important; it’s vital. How can I give of myself when I’m running on empty?

When I feel myself beginning to be depleted, I have found a few things that help me recharge. The first thing is a hot bath. There is something about soaking for a bit that allows me to wind down my mind and re-center my body. Sometimes I soak in silence; other times, I will listen to an encouraging podcast, or I’ll put on calming music. I am particularly fond of pianists like Dustin O’Halloran and Chad Lawson.

I am also an avid reader. When I seek the comfort of scripture, as opposed to studying, I love “The Message” translation. It reads like poetry and is so soothing. I regularly revisit the Psalms, The Gospels, and my favorite of Paul’s writings, Colossians. I love all kinds of books, but especially those that play with my imagination. My go-to author is Madeleine L’Engle because even her works of fiction shed light on spiritual principles. Another way I like to feel inspired is by watching nature or historical documentaries. Taking in the beauty of God’s creation or learning about where we come from gives me so much hope.

And last but certainly not least, I find so much inspiration in our garden. My husband Joel and I plant lots of vegetables and herbs every year, and it’s a beautiful way to connect with Divine and with each other. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty to help remind yourself of life’s simple wonders.

Kathleen: Finding peace and contentment is what we long for, but is hard to attain. What has God taught you about overcoming our culture that’s constantly telling us we aren’t enough?

Destiny: Everywhere we turn nowadays, advertisements tell us what we need or who we need to be. The pressure to buy into those things is dangerously heavy. That pressure is fed by comparison. We see the life people present on social media and covet their seemingly perfect existence and then spiral into mourning that we will never have what they have. The world around us has almost become a “funhouse” full of warped mirrors that cause us to see ourselves as anything but “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I have struggled my whole life with insecurities about my weight, talent, and what I have to offer the world. The mirror of comparison is unrelenting as it fights to destroy me.

 A couple of years ago, I had just taken a shower, looked at myself in the mirror, and began beating myself up over every flaw I saw. The added pounds, the imperfections, and the fact I look very different from most women in ministry, covered in tattoos and scars. I went at it for a while until I erupted in tears. In the midst of my breakdown, I heard the voice of Divine so sweetly say to me, “I looked into the whole world and saw that something was missing, and I created you to fill that void.” Wow! How could I continue to beat myself up after that! Am I perfect? No way! But Divine didn’t create me to be perfect. He created me to be that missing piece! Look, I’m a woman, so naturally, those struggles still come up from time to time, but I have learned how to silence those negative thoughts by reminding myself who He made me to be!

Kathleen: The Bible tells us to be a “sweet aroma” – in our language today, “influencer” comes to mind. How can we bring the fragrance of Jesus into our work and life? 

Destiny: One of my absolute favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume (aroma). Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.”

Jesus was the perfect example of what a life of influence should be. Even though He was born into humanity, He carried the atmosphere of Heaven with Him. That atmosphere radiated from His pores and impacted the lives of all who came into contact with Him. As believers who are alive to the reality of Christ in us, we have that same ability! We are the light that radiates His light. We are the beacon that pierces through the fog and lights the way home. We are the perpetual fragrance of Christ that should smell so delicious that lost and hurting people can’t help but be curious. Jesus met people where they were without judgment or condemnation and, through His perfect love, transformed them. I believe it is our responsibility to do the same. To me, influence means reaching people no matter where they are, what they’ve done, or where they’ve been. Only through the love of Jesus have we made it this far. The more we are willing to share that love, the greater the chance we then have to be a witness to the world. My greatest prayer surrounding the spaces I have been privileged to “influence” is that those sweet people walk away from our encounter feeling seen, known, loved, and always enough!

 

Connect with Destiny:

Website: www.rambokhouri.com
YouTube: RamboKhouri
Facebook: Destiny Rambo Khouri
Instagram & Twitter: DesRamboMusic
New weekly episodes of “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri” are available on Mondays on YouTube and most major podcast platforms.
Music by Destiny Rambo Khouri is available in all digital stores.

An Inner View with Flo Oramasionwu

An Inner View with Flo Oramasionwu

What does it really mean to have “influence”? Read this week’s INNER VIEW as Flo Oramasionwu unpacks both the privilege and responsibility of having influence, and how she lives as an “encourager” of others everywhere she goes.

BIO
If you were searching for a soulful pop singer with a huge, heart-stopping voice, the Canadian Prairies is likely not the first place you’d start looking.  But that’s exactly where Flo got her start. Flo is a multiple award-winning soul/pop artist who captivates with undeniable stage presence in every type of venue from intimate clubs to arenas. She represents encouragement, personal strength, passion, and positivity. Her enduring message of faith and self-empowerment reflects her resolve: to overcome all obstacles and continue to live out her dreams, “I believe this dream is bigger than I am.” Luckily her voice is bigger than her dreams. She is passion in living form and travels into realms of soul that some artists never tap into, and this is only the beginning.

“And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

 

INNER VIEW
Kathleen Cooke: As an award-winning musical artist in Hollywood, what lessons has God recently taught you about who He is?

Flo Oramasionwu: God has taught me that He is personal, present, and REAL!  Not just a distant God that our parents, grandparents, and friends teach us about. Not a fictional or past character that was just active in the historical Old/New Testament times. JEHOVAH JIREH has come through for me in so many miraculous ways throughout my journey in LA that my mind is blown! He is not only faithful, but He is also so loving. He does miraculous things through people (even absolute strangers) and circumstances.

He moves and creates the resources to bless, encourage, and keep you going on your journey to ensure that you are on the right path. He’s got your back. He KNOWS you so well. He not only supplies your needs but also provides for your desires and the things that sometimes you think are unnecessary or may feel frivolous. He wants to give you the things that make your heart jump and smile. He truly is our provider. And, when God does it, He does it in beautiful ways.

Kathleen: The music industry is a constant struggle to create more music and get yourself seen. It takes enormous grit and endless determination. What have you learned about setting aside your ambitions and choosing God’s perfect plan for your life and work?

Flo: God has patiently taught me the importance of surrender and not to obsessively strive so much that there’s no room left for Him to drive. In other words, He’s been showing me the beauty of letting Him take hold of the “steering wheel” while I rest in Him and enjoy the beautiful view from the passenger seat.

Ambitious striving to accomplish specific dreams and goals can turn into an idol. It requires trust and faith to let go and leave it in God’s hands. He not only knows best, but His way is so much better than what we could ever try to do on our own. He is so much more efficient than our timing and far more effective than our efforts could ever be.

I personally don’t believe there is anything wrong with aiming for excellence (Daniel and Joseph were men of excellence), or having a vision (David had a vision for building God’s temple and left the blueprints to execute them with his son Solomon) and working towards it. But I do think God wants to eliminate the fear of needing to do everything on our own or else it won’t be completed or get done well. God knows and places the desires we have in our hearts for a reason and a purpose. He created us with gifts and abilities “for such a time as this” (as Mordecai told Esther) in history. He will fulfill the things He has planned for us. There is no need to spin our wheels and strive. God’s got this, and He’s got us!

Kathleen: It takes great faith to set aside yourself and your way for God’s way and choose to trust Him. You make yourself vulnerable and exposed in a world that thrives on self-assurance. What has God taught you about choosing Godly choices? (more…)