Shakila Stewart shows us how leaning into purpose and faith can make all the difference for our lives: Trusting purpose over plans and ego is her mantra.
Shakila Stewart is an author and premier confidence and presence coach for female entertainers. She is using the strength of faith in God to serve her purpose and lead other women to theirs. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she has a beautifully complex story that molded her into the confidence coach, actor, model, writer and leader that she is today.
With an infectiously warm presence about her, she speaks as if she’s known you her whole life. Shakila has created outlets to uplift women in entertainment, such as the “Walk This Way Movement, and the “Chin Up, You Got This” coaching program. Stewart is on fire with a book titled, “Chin Up, You Got This.”
Stewart’s Breakthrough & Break-In Entertainment program is a 10-week group virtual coaching program designed to help up-and-coming female entertainers grow in their faith, identity and purpose for a healthy and long-lasting career in entertainment.
During the coaching sessions, women will develop skills to improve their inner image, as well as gain confidence to show up authentically and uncompromised. She teaches, “No” won’t break you and a “Yes” won’t make you! You will leave with your head held high and ready to take on anything that the industry throws at you. She emphasizes that there is enough space for all of us if we just find our purpose.
An Open Heart Leads to Open Doors
Tricia Love: How are you doing?
Shakila Stewart: Girl, I’ve been on set for Insecure doing background work. It’s been so amazing and just so fulfilling. God is so faithful. I’ve been pursuing this for 15 years. I just got an agent three weeks ago, and then I booked this. Auditions are coming in. Things are moving. I’m grateful.
Tricia Love: I love it. So your primary passion, because I know you consult clients and their businesses, is acting?
Shakila Stewart: Yes. I’m a premier confidence and presence coach now. I focus on helping female entertainers get grounded in their faith, identity and purpose so that they can have a lasting career in entertainment. I feel good because I don’t have to compromise my faith or my passion [for] acting and modeling. I can bring them together and use it to help society, letting women know you don’t have to be anybody but yourself. You don’t have to compromise. You can shift atmospheres instead of becoming a product of the atmosphere.
Photo: Shakila Stewart
Tricia Love: Amen.
Shakila Stewart: In entertainment, we feel like we have to conform. That’s what I thought anyway. As I grew stronger in my faith, I learned I’m not here to conform, I’m here to bring value. I’m here to let people know you can be your authentic self. You don’t have to compromise who you are. Knowing that your authenticity is enough, as a creator, that’s the thing we need. We need you to be authentic so that you can bring another innovative idea to the world that’s not there, to create something new.
God Always Has A Plan
Tricia Love: 100%. If you could walk us through those big points in your life that have been character building and you’ve stood on your faith, what was it like growing up for Shakila?
Shakila Stewart: My mother was 16 when she had me. She was a good mom, but she was very ambitious. A lot of the time, she would leave me with my grandmother. Once she left me with my grandmother, she had a friend over, and he tried to touch me. My grandmother went to the police and everything, but DCFS came in and took me away from my family.
Tricia Love: How long were you there?
Shakila Stewart: I was there for two years, from ages six to eight.
Tricia Love: Under what grounds?
Shakila Stewart: I think with the court system, as a six-year-old talking to lawyers in a room by yourself, I might have said something that made them think I wasn’t in a safe environment. You know what I mean?
Tricia Love: Yeah.
Shakila Stewart: The hard part was that I would have to go on visits with my family, and then go back to school and foster care. That was heartbreaking because I wanted to be with them and missed them so much. My teachers expected me to behave, but I’m hurting inside. I had to sit in class and walk through that pain. After that, I was adopted by my great aunt, an amazing woman of God, who really got me grounded in faith. She adopted my brother, sister and me and made sure that God was the center of everything.
Tricia Love: [It’s amazing how] your great aunt was able to instill in you the scripture [which] changed the trajectory of your life.
Shakila Stewart: When I went to foster care, it put me on a path towards my destiny. It just worked in my favor because at the foster home, it was a very loving, structured family. God always showed me favor. When I got with my aunt, she was strict on us, because she was like, “God, I know that you got plans for them.” She was on dialysis and a single parent of three kids, so I don’t even know how she did it. She would always tell us, “It’s your faith in Christ.”
At 12 years old, I got a prophetic word. The pastor said, “God is going to open the door for you to act, but when He does, don’t you forget about Him.” From that moment on, it gave me direction. I won a competition to come to Hollywood from Chicago. That was my first introduction to LA, but being here, I felt like this wasn’t good for me because I wasn’t grounded. I was still dealing with rejection from my parents and my confidence was still outwardly. We know that being in the industry and dealing with rejection and esteem issues, if your confidence doesn’t come from within you’re gonna go down the wrong path. It’s just not time.
I went to college for theater. I did a lot of musical theater directing in Chicago.
Then my aunt who was my adopted mother, passed away. It was a shock to me because I just knew that she was going to be there for us all. She loved us so much. At the hospital, she grabbed my hand and said, “Shakila, you have to let me go, but we’re gonna be okay because of the Lord.” She said, “Make sure you take care of your brother and sister. There is no purpose in living life, if you aint gonna have any joy.” Those were her last words to me.
Photo: Shakila Stewart on Instagram
Stepping into your Purpose
I had to change in an instant. Plan a funeral. Adopt my brother. At 26, that was a lot. She would come to me in my dreams sometimes. I would be angry with her like, “You left me with too much.” I stayed in prayer with God and I’m like, “Okay, God, my dreams are over, and I’m okay with it. This is my path.” I thought it was done, but God is faithful. I had a dream about a high heel and it was pink, black and white with words inside. I went to church that night and the first lady, her daughter and a baby had on those colors.
I said, “Okay, God, you’re trying to tell me something.” I met with a prophetic dreamer and she said, “I think God is telling you to go forth with your idea.” That’s how I came up with the Walk This Way Movement, to empower women to build confidence through walking in heels. Ladies, you are the supermodel of your life, chin up, shoulders back, you got this.
The movement was doing well and my brother went off to college. I thought, “Wow, it’s time for me to move to LA. I’m getting my dream back.” I get here [and think], “God, why are things not moving like you said they would? I’ve done everything you told me to do.” He says, “You’re leaving me out,” and that was a turning point in my life.
Tricia Love: What year was that?
Shakila Stewart: That was 2017-2018. I couldn’t understand it, so I surrendered it. He was breaking me down and changing my thought pattern to know that he’s gonna fulfill me so that my dream is under me. I have dominion over it, it’s not ruling me. Once He took me through that humbling process, He’s like, “Now you’re ready to walk in a room with your chin up. Now you know that a “No” won’t break you and a “Yes” won’t make you.”
Tricia Love: That’s such a powerful quote. You’re able to shift in the industry when somebody says, “No,” because you’re trusting God. You’re able to brush it off without it being linked to your identity.
Shakila Stewart: Exactly. It’s a process but I’m grateful that I can be authentic.
Tricia Love: Beautiful. Is there anything else that you want to share that’s on your heart? What is your vision in the next five years?
Shakila Stewart: I’m looking forward to a lead role, writing and producing. I’m just looking forward to seeing how God is gonna use me creatively. I’m learning this: Listen to your body because your body is going to let you know what’s not right and what’s not working. God didn’t create you to handle all of those things and the world needs what you have to offer.
This summer I’m gonna do a “Chin Up, You Got This” Confidence Tour for women. Depending on how everything opens up, it’s gonna be a three city tour: LA, Chicago and Atlanta. My book, “Chin up, You Got This” is still online and doing amazing. I have a coaching program called “Breakthrough & Break-In Entertainment.” It’s a 10-week program to help up-and-coming female artists get grounded in their faith, identity and purpose.
Stay tuned. You can go to my website. It’s a lot, but the one thing that’s helping me is just faith. The more we step out and just trust God, the more doors He opens.
Learn more and register online at shakilastewart.com.