Create Your Own Opportunity

TAKEAWAY: Creatives must be open to creating their own opportunities to create.

Imagine you’re a successful stage actress and television host in California. You’re living your dream of live performance. Then you follow your heart and find yourself in a modest-sized college town in the Plains. Do you give up on your artistic life?

Not if you’re Pippa White. A few years ago Pippa found herself leaving if not her heart than her career in San Francisco, where she was an on-air host on the local ABC TV affiliate. She moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where her husband was joining the faculty at the University of Nebraska. As she explains in the video below, she knew there weren’t likely to be many full-time performance options. So she made her own.

I met Pippa White during my cross-country road trip, interviewing creatives of every stripe in thirty-five states. I was struck by her poise (befitting an actress), charmed by her dog (who she had warned didn’t like strangers but took to me), and amused by her cat (which tried to eat the microphone cord).

Pippa has written, produced and starred in more than a dozen one-woman shows based on historical characters, individuals who faced great challenges and overcame long odds. She wrote her first show after learning about the “orphan train,” a train that used to bring East Coast orphans out to Nebraska for adoption. (You can see an excerpt from that show in the video.) Now she has performed in twenty-nine states, on theater stages, at major conferences, and for school assemblies. In fact, she travels so much I felt fortunate to be able to catch her at home.

“There’s nothing I admire more than perseverance,” Pippa told me, referring to the characters she portrays. “People who are knocked down, they get back up, they’re knocked down, they get back up, they’re knocked down, they get back up, and they keep on going.” Perseverance also is a great word to describe Pippa, who learned early in life that creatives can’t always wait for the right opportunity; sometimes they have to create it.

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