Bernie Lawrence is a transactional lawyer who practices in the areas of Entertainment, Copyright, Trademark and Business Law. And she is an amazing, powerful, and talented Black woman. Read on as she shares how she navigates the entertainment business as a woman of color.
What made you choose this profession?
I’ve always had a love for the arts and am very passionate about getting the best deals for my clients that would open doors for them and their future endeavors. The entertainment industry is a business. The goal is to help change the mindset of my clients to stop seeing themselves as individuals, operating in this space and create entities and opportunities and can bring about brand awareness and staying power.
How important is it for women to have a voice in your particular field?
It is very important for women to have a voice in the field of entertainment. The entertainment industry is male-dominated and a woman’s voice can help establish equity and inclusion for those seeking to establish a more level playing field. Recognizing that men and women are different, it helps to have a viewpoint from women to take into consideration how to handle issues that may not be readily apparent to a man
What are some of the main issues facing women of color and Black women particularly?
We all have a voice, but some are afraid to use it because of how we have been viewed in the passed. When something happens to someone in the Black community, the focus is how did that person of color handle it? Society tends to use adjectives to describe black women. We are often described as “strong,” “resilient,” “angry,” “difficult” or “emotional.” Being outspoken is not often viewed as a positive; some see it more as being controversial. You don’t often see such “words” being used to describe women of other races. Labels have potentially affected our interaction with other races because we are “concerned” with how we might be perceived by them. As a result, we shut down when such labels are used or compromise due to the fear of not being accepted.
What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
Women empowerment is the ability to elevate women by using motivational tactics that will help to move, touch and inspire them. It’s a collective effort among women to achieve a common goal. If we effectively collaborate with one another, we are empowering those in our circle to succeed. The more leaders we build up, the better our nation becomes.
How does it feel being a Black woman at this moment in time?
Being a Black woman feels great. Today, society seems to be putting more emphasis on our existence and the need to include us in decision-making roles. We live in a world that is multi-racial and multi-cultural. Black women leaders help mold the corporate culture of our companies. We bring a different perspective to the table because our life and cultural experiences have been different. It is also important for children of all races to see leaders that look like them, so they can grasp the understanding that one day they can be leaders too
What are some of your proudest achievements?
Some of my proudest achievements include raising two African American sons and putting them through college. They are my biggest inspiration. It is important for my sons to see that women can have decision-making authority and be successful, working in fields they are passionate about (both of my sons have an interest in the entertainment industry). Another proud achievement is being able to employ people. It is one thing to run a business. But, when you have other people relying on you for work to help feed their families or pay their rent that is a different type of success. I feel blessed to be in a position to employ and train those looking to me for guidance, and knowing I have an impact on their every day lives.
What advice would you give younger women entering your field?
My advice to younger women entering into my field is to enjoy the present and take time to smell the roses. Many times we get so caught up in our past experiences, we forget to acknowledge all the positive encounters in our present lives. Since we are constantly reminding ourselves of what we didn’t do, or had not accomplished yet, we don’t get to thoroughly enjoy everything we are currently experiencing. The past is gone. The future may never come. But, the present is with us today. Enjoy the journey and be open to all the possibilities that life has to offer.