Lillian E. Johnson


The current rule of the post-millennium career market seems to be that there are no rules. We are starting to realize that employment does not mean what it used to mean. The key to survival in this market is creativity, no matter what your specialty. You have to break free of traditional thinking about employment in order to create your own career path. The life of the working adult is no longer as linear as it once was. We are learning how to cobble together various skills in order to craft the perfect job for who we are. To use some clichéd terms, this is the new normal, and we must have the ability to repurpose our skills in various arenas. Most of use can no longer exist in a one-track career, either because we get unhappy or we find that’s not the best way to ride the waves of the changing economy. Whether new to the working world or job market veterans, we must constantly refresh, rebrand, and restart, until we find what works best. Sometimes this means divesting a skill set from one market into another and maintaining tandem or even multiple career paths.

This may sound like a plate spinning act, but, if we hone and focus our talents and direct them to the appropriate markets, we can galvanize new and exciting careers. It is multi-directional, but not unfocused. It’s like the old rule for success in the stock market—diversify! The more you know, the more you cultivate your talents and interests, the more flexible you can be, and, therefore, the more successful in this economy.

As an actor, I know this better than anyone. I will be the first to admit that acting has never been the easiest or clearest career path, but the entertainment industry has evolved with the rest of the economy. Its do or die. You have to learn to create your own content and also how to support yourself in a way the feeds your talents, instead of drains them. The days of studio contracts are gone, and successful theatre companies are few and far between. Actors need to redirect their communication skills into other markets. That is exactly what I have done with my position as communications coordinator at Gorby Peters & Associates law firm. With the help of founding attorney Mary Donne Peters, we created a job specifically suited to my skill set as a highly trained professional actor.

I have trained in the art of story telling for the past decade. I do not mean story telling in the sense of being a professional prevaricator, but rather a professional truth teller. Theater and film as art forms say what we cannot say out loud to each other. They reflect the realities of being human. The ability to do this takes a significant amount of bravery, but also study. Coming from this background, I aim to communicate to the world how special our law firm is, our story, and who we are. As communications coordinator for Gorby Peters, I am able to take all the skills that I learned as a professional communicator and storyteller in the acting world, and apply them to the business world. I want to tell our firm’s story so that you know the unique and talented team you are hiring when you work with us. I manage our Facebook page, our website and blog, and our video blogs! Though we work in many legal fields, one of our specialties is working with small business owners. Our video blogs are quick, informative interviews with our attorneys about the various legal issues small business owners might face. I act as the interviewer and legalese translator. In this way, I repurpose my skills as performer into a tandem career path in order to support my creative ventures. By diversifying my markets, I become more competitive and successful. The most important gain is that I can survive in the economy of the 21st century. Not only survive, but also thrive. Developing tandem careers in marketing, communications, and social media development and acting makes me stronger in both fields and this creates career longevity. Now, no matter what the economy brings, I know how to refresh and rebrand myself. This is what the “millennials,” as we are called, must understand. We must create our careers. But the baby boomer generation can learn from this as well. It’s never too late to take a good, hard look at your abilities, and then decide where you can divest those skills in order to create the career that you want.

With Gorby Peters’ support, I have been able to find a path that suits me. While developing what it means to be the communications coordinator for a law firm, I have been simultaneously working on various film projects. One of the most exciting, and a perfect example for the “invent your own career” economy, is a web series with Breathe Films, called “Hold for Release”. “Hold for Release” is a web series about making a web series, which is a brilliant way of reflecting exactly what we all need to be doing in our own way. It’s a web series that is self-aware, like the new generation of creatives who are self-aware that the old turnkey solutions to career are disappearing quickly and being replaced by a hybrid mesh of technology and entrepreneurial spirit, wrapped in the clothing of shared economy. The new breed of worker is best forged in the arts, as surviving in the new economies has itself become an art-form. The ability to transform is pivotal, as is the understanding that we have to work together. The most successful people are the ones who know that networking means finding a group of people who compliment and support your talents.

If the work you want for yourself does not already exist, make it exist! Take a look at your skill set, see what is lacking or weak, and then find other people to strengthen those areas. Collaborate! Creating new media for the internet is a perfect venue for actors, writers, directors, and cinematographers. Here we can together create the work that we want to create with almost total freedom. That is the beauty of the time in which we are living. Unfortunately, though creatively fulfilling, making new content is not always the most lucrative. Like many creative ventures, its viability for economic success is a gamble. That is why both my careers mutually support one another. I create an income stream by marrying my interests.  Success in the modern world means finding what you are good at and capitalizing on those skills in an outside the box way. This economy does not carry you along. It’s a shared economy and you have to bring something to the table. You cannot cling to a degree and expect doors to open for you immediately. Passivity breeds contempt. Generate, invent, form, and construct your ideal career to find a path that makes you happy and find others who will support you in that.

Lillian Johnson was born in Atlanta, but moved to New York to study theatre. She has worked and lived in New York, Europe, and Atlanta. Currently, she resides in Atlanta where she works as the communications coordinator for Gorby Peters & Associates LLC, and is an actor with J Pervis Talent. You can watch her new webseries, “Hold for Release” on Youtube by subscribing to the “Hold for Release” channel: