Spin a Challenge Into Gold w/ Rhianna Basore

We’ve all heard the fairytale where a princess spins straw into gold - ready to meet the princess? When the mess that was 2020 upended the grand plans of celebrated actor and director Rhianna Basore (@selftrustfund), she didn’t throw herself a pity party. Instead, she transformed limitation into imagination. The results exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Highlight Reel

1:30 The bottom drops out

6:00 There’s magic here

8:30 Creativity through constraint

10:00 Telling my personal story

12:30 Follow your fun

14:50 Creativity as a life-force

17:30 Trust the timing of the universe

21:30 Everything you wish is true

28:20 Faith, trust, flow

Learn more: https://selftrustfund.com/

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. Here we are for Season Four - whoohoo! Can't believe we made it four seasons. This is wonderful. So today we have such an incredibly special guest, I'm so honored to have you. Rhianna Basore, please introduce yourself.

Rhianna Basore 0:19

Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. So I am an international award-winning actor, director, filmmaker and writer, as well as a financial empowerment coach for creatives. It is my deep passion to help other creatives fund their best creative life while living the life of their dreams.

Adrienne MacIain 0:40

All things I'm so passionate about. So I am so delighted to have you here. So I was really just so flattered that she agreed to be here for the first episode of Season Four, because Season Four is all about, we're calling it Hindsight 2020. And now Hindsight 2020, of course, goes a long way in terms of explaining what we do here. We all look back, and everything's so clear in that rearview mirror, isn't it? But I think finally we're starting to get enough distance on the year 2020 that we can start looking at what were the biggest obstacles we overcame, and what were the greatest gifts that we received specifically from that unprecedented year? So I just want to ask you that first question of what was the greatest obstacle you overcame in the year 2020?

Rhianna Basore 1:35

Yeah, it's such a powerful question, because for me 2020 was a transformative year. I started the beginning of 2020 coming off the high of directing my first show. My friend had been developing a one person clowning show for over a year, I was heavily involved as a consultant on that, and then when the time came he asked me to direct it. And it was my first opportunity to direct a theater play. And it was a huge success. We had a blast, the audience response was amazing. We toured it all around the United States. And in fact were able to headline the Marfa Fringe in Marfa, Texas, which was a highlight of my career. But the thing I was the most excited about was that we had been invited to present it in Iceland, in Reykjavik. So I, being the good money coach that I am, I got all my financial ducks in a row. I had it all scheduled out - a beautiful Scandinavian pad, little artist's nook, right across from volcanic hot springs day spa. It was walkable to our venue, I could not wait. And then COVID happened. And Americans were uninvited from the island of Iceland, for understandable reasons. But for me, it was the thing I had pinned all of my 2020 dreams on, was this opportunity to perform, to see my show be performed in Iceland. And I don't really believe that things can't be turned into gold. So I put my dream hat on. And I said, Well, what if we could make it into a movie? They're offering us to perform it on Zoom, but I'm not such a fan of Zoom plays, I find that the translation isn't as rich as the piece that I created. So I approached my collaborator and said, What do you think about making it into a movie? And he was so on board, he completely recreated it as a screenplay. We shot it over four weekends in a closet at his house. We did the editing, we submitted it two weeks ahead of the deadline. And it opened to even better acclaim than the theater play had received, as well as being seen by thousands of people all over the world. And so for me, it was truly evidence that you can spin a challenge into gold.

Adrienne MacIain 4:02

Absolutely. So, I love that story for so many reasons. I want to go back a little bit to that moment where everything, like, the ground just opens up beneath you. It's like you've got all these plans, things are finally starting to work for you. You know, I think so many people out there can relate to that moment where it's like things are finally starting to get traction, you're finally starting to go someplace, and then all of a sudden the bottom drops out. And it just feels so unfair.

Rhianna Basore 4:33


Adrienne MacIain 4:34

And it's so easy in that moment, to just get angry, and get bitter, and to throw yourself a pity party. But it's that moment where you have that beautiful opportunity to do something completely new and unprecedented, and go in a totally new direction. So, you know, you said you, Oh, I just came up with this idea of filming it. But where do you think was that mental shift for you where you were like, Okay, get over yourself, we still need to do something here, and decided to just take it in a new direction?

Rhianna Basore 5:17

It's such a great question. And I don't know if I can pinpoint one source. But I can say that I had the incredible support of my creative community as we were all navigating the early months of the COVID challenge. I also at that time was a yoga teacher, so I was missing my yoga community, which was a daily practice for me. And so I really welcomed re-embracing my creative community as a daily interaction. And so I was in a number of conversations and regular meeting groups, as well as re-navigating 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron,

Adrienne MacIain 5:57

One of my favorites!

Rhianna Basore 5:57

which is a classic. Yes! But between you and me, I had never officially finished it. So I was like, #COVIDgoals. So I was sort of double duty-ing with the holding space with creative people and doing 'The Artist's Way.' And it allowed me to tap into that internal space of limitless possibility. And so it really, in the way that I believe these things happened, it was a download from the universe. I had this image and it kept coming, and it kept coming, and it kept getting funnier and funnier. And I just thought, I think there's magic here. I will add that we had made a small trailer for a film version of the play we were thinking about doing the year before, so it wasn't completely out of the blue. But definitely going zero to movie was an unexpected turn.

Adrienne MacIain 6:54

And you say you filmed it in a closet? Like most people, you know, most theater people are trying to get out of the closet.

Rhianna Basore 7:01

Isn't that the truth! That I learned doing live theater is that the constraints are the freedom.

Adrienne MacIain 7:12


Rhianna Basore 7:13

And while sometimes you really want to beat your head against the walls of the box of the piece that you're working on, it really is, once you find the infinite possibility within the limitation, that you understand you can do anything. So for me, I I should clarify that this piece was about a Trump voter who later ends up - spoiler alert - as the President of United States. So that's his journey, is from a sort of going-into-the-underworld-because-he-voted-for-Trump misadventure ending up as the President of the United States. It's an underdog story. And so I had this image of him escaping his handlers, because he is a clowning character so he does not do things the right way or say them the right way, and that he had gone into a closet at the White House, and he was giving his State of the Union address, thinking himself to be FDR. But of course he is this out of touch, tone deaf, kind of dinosaur from an imagined past. And it just really delighted me to think of the joy and the boyish enthusiasm that my actor would bring to that scenario.

Adrienne MacIain 8:29

That's wonderful. I could not agree more that one of the best ways to actually tap into your creativity is to put constraints on things. When you say to someone, Hey, draw me a picture, they'll look at you like, Do what now? If you say, draw a picture of a cute animal, well, now we have constraints. And now your imagination starts thinking about animals that you think are cute, and what can I draw? Oh, well, I'm pretty good at puppies. All right, I'm gonna go with a puppy. But people kind of freeze up when you give them too much creative space to run around in. Like little kids, we actually like having edges. We like to know where the boundaries are. And so it can be really freeing, actually, to give yourself constraints. One of the most common things you do in writing workshops and things is that the leader will give you constraints. Well, you have to have this included, and you can't have this included, and so that helps you to come up with something. So if you're struggling creatively, if you ever find yourself stuck, instead of opening things up sometimes it's actually really helpful to narrow things down and give yourself constraints.

Rhianna Basore 9:37

I think such a great example of that, because I really agree, is the hot lava game. Do you remember that from when you were a kid and you can't touch the floor? There's no outcome to the rules. No one's going to be the winner. You just can't be on the floor. And it's the most joyful, silly-making, laugh-inducing game that has no rules except for don't touch the floor.

Adrienne MacIain 10:00

Exactly, absolutely. So let's jump into what do you think is the story the world isn't getting?

Rhianna Basore 10:11

I actually am working on writing my first memoir right now. And that's also been one of my COVID creative projects. I've always been a very avid reader, especially of memoirs, people telling their personal story. And I realized, maybe as a result of this project, that I didn't share my personal story. That I, as a performer, interpreted other people's, and as a director-filmmaker, I further interpreted other people's performance and their story, and that I hadn't really told my story. And so I have been actively exploring that for the past, let's say nine months. And I think it's still coming into view. But I think that it really has to do with my journey as a seeker. I've always been in pursuit of something I haven't experienced, that I didn't know, that transcends what I am as a human. And more than that it has taken these different forms in my life, I find it as a thread through everything that I do. But I would like to share my personal journey as a human on this planet, in order to both own my voice, but also inspire others to take more risks. I've taken a lot of risks in my life, both as a human and as a creative, and I haven't always told people all the bumps and all the highs of that journey. So I have a feeling that's where the story lies.

Adrienne MacIain 11:43

Absolutely. So what would you say is the main message or takeaway from your story, your personal story?

Rhianna Basore 11:52

Well, I think it's love is in everything. I've been thinking a lot recently about how creativity is so aligned with flow, is so aligned with the life-force, is so aligned with abundance. If you believe in that we have chi in eastern philosophies, or Kundalini energy. But really, for me, that word comes down to the experience of love, both inward and outward. Sensations of love flows through everything that I do, and I know that when I aligned with that, it really comes out okay.

Adrienne MacIain 12:31

Absolutely. So a message of love, of course, is for everyone, absolutely everyone. But who do you think really needs to hear your story? You said something about people who maybe aren't taking the risks that they need to take in their lives? What do you think might be holding those people back?

Rhianna Basore 12:50

I work with something in my coaching business, but I call them money monsters, which are the voices that we've internalized, both from our family of origin and our culture, that tell us that we can have what we want. And so it keeps people very safe. You know, you think of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh. It's like, what could be out there? The heffalumps and woozles. But really, like a monster under your bed, if you turn on the light, often there's nothing there. And through that work, I've really realized that it's fear. People are afraid of what could be, of what might be. But when you take the steps to move forward and you pursue those things, not only do those things not happen, but sometimes really amazing, cool things happen. Like your movie debuts in Reykjavik that you never knew you were going to make a month ago. And so for those people, I really would love to offer the inspiration of bravery. I am perhaps more brave than I feel because people always hear my stories and they say, I can't believe you thought to do that, or I can't believe you did that. And I'm like, well, it kind of sounded fun. And for me, that's a full sentence.

Adrienne MacIain 14:08

Absolutely. Follow your fun. That is such great advice. Follow your joy. Follow your fun, find what feeds you, and be that example for the world. That, yes, you can follow your joy, and you can follow your fun, and still create wonderful, amazing things in the world.

Rhianna Basore 14:26

Yeah, absolutely. And be rewarded for it. Right? We have this myth that we have to leave joy and play and laughter in childhood. But I have found as an adult, that the more I embrace those things the more I'm rewarded, emotionally, financially and physically. People are looking to fill up with what makes them happy, so if you're offering what makes you happy, it's gonna probably work out for both of you.

Adrienne MacIain 14:52

Absolutely. Alright, so I want to ask you how did this journey... so we'll go back to 2020 for a moment... how did this journey change you?

Rhianna Basore 15:04

I definitely can't go back to the way I was before. That is one of the things that I'm actually extremely appreciative of the past year for is that it, it showed me how my life was amazing, and served me so well, and was so beautiful. And yet because I had to stop, and I had to listen, and I had to be really still... I'm a very social person, I like a very busy schedule, I want to go out and do all the things with all the people and hear about it from everybody... and I didn't leave my house for months at a time, right? Wasn't seeing anyone that wasn't already in my house. And in that stillness, I realized that there were parts of me I kept too busy to remember to feed. And luckily for me, that was a reconnecting to creativity as a life force, not as something I make money at, or something that I do to get attention or approval, or to connect with my social group. It is something that is intrinsic to who I am, and the way that I do everything that I do. And from tapping into that, I realized that I can't go back to a place where I starve myself of expression. I think I felt that if I could segment my life enough, I could check all the boxes, rather than having it be a dance that I do in all things in all aspects of my life.

Adrienne MacIain 16:37

That is resonating with me so much. Sorry, I'm tearing up a little bit. I'm gonna take a drink here.

Rhianna Basore 16:41

Of course.