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Meet Ari Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ari Johnson.

Ari, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I moved to LA from Kansas to pursue acting in 2016. Like many actors, I quickly became tired of waiting for other people to give me the chance to work. So even though I didn’t consider myself a writer, I wrote a web series. And then, even though I didn’t go to film school and I knew nothing about directing, I decided to direct it. The experience was really life-changing and completely expanded my vision of what I want for myself and my career. Even so, I found myself often looking around at my peers and thinking, “What do they know that I don’t? What is their secret?”

So, I started a podcast to find out. What’s Your Secret launched in September 2020, and on it I interview people in the entertainment industry about how they got where they are and their secrets to happiness and success. With vulnerable, heartfelt conversations, the podcast seeks to bridge the gap between the technical aspects of filmmaking and the mindset and mental health aspects. Because, what’s the point of reaching your goals if you’re miserable along the way?

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I wouldn’t call it easy! As cliche as it sounds, the biggest thing standing in my way was myself. I’ve held myself back from a lot of things because I didn’t go to film school, or because I didn’t think I had it “figured out,” or because I thought, “Who am *I* to think I’m capable of *that*?”

It’s very easy to think that the answer is simply to wait until you no longer feel that way anymore, that something will happen and a light switch will flip and make you no longer afraid. But that’s just not how it works, which is something I wanted to explore with the podcast. I wanted to hear how other creatives overcame those struggles and got to the other side.

Unsurprisingly, no one is immune to fear. The fears that we think are unique to us are actually quite universal, and often the people we think “have it all figured out” still consider themselves a work in progress. Even so, my guests always say something that I need to hear. That’s one of the things I love about the podcast: both things can be true. You can feel like you don’t know if you’re moving in the right direction AND have something incredibly valuable to share with others.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
What’s Your Secret is a podcast for creatives looking to live happier, more fulfilled lives. I’m really proud of the honest and vulnerable conversations we have; I’m so grateful to all of my guests for their willingness to share. As of right now, I am a one-woman show- I do everything from creating the content to publishing it to promoting it. As the podcast and my business grow, I hope to empower other womxn to take ownership of their stories and find ways to tell them without waiting for permission. In that regard, I think podcasts are an incredibly powerful medium and I’m excited to see the growth in years to come.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t think I’d describe it as luck, although I do think that succeeding in the entertainment industry requires a healthy dose of luck. But since I can’t control luck, I prefer to focus on moving in the direction of what feels good. It’s taken me a long time to learn to listen to and trust myself (and don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning!) But that has been so powerful for me because often, when I focus on what feels good and what feels right, then I take actions that land me in “lucky” situations. Plus, I think everything I do is better when I’m listening to myself rather than seeking external validation. However, I think in a conversation about luck, it’s important to acknowledge privilege. I’m privileged in many ways, and that privilege has undeniably played a huge role in my life and career.

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