Leading with love is to be in love—meaning to be in the unwavering presence of the love that flows through all of us—and directing it to anyone or anything we want to devote our attention to. In the state of being in love with who we are, we can only offer love to ourselves and others. Justifying for ourselves why others don’t love us, don’t accept us, or don’t see us for who we are is denying ourselves access to our divine state of being in love and our own inner power to be in love unconditionally of any external stimulation.
Artist Travina Springer transcends stereotypes, giving a new angle to her character Tyesha Hillman—a confident, stylish, empowering woman full of love and convert to Islam on the Disney+ And Marvel show Ms. Marvel. Travina speaks about her sense of being in love: “I think that love comes out in warm vibrations. I really like to be in joy and uplift others by seeing the reflection of their inner light—everyone has it. And I think people because of circumstances, trauma or terrible experiences often can get dimmed, and they forget that they have it. So, I really like to be able to do that for other people—leading with love.”
All and every action precede a state of being. Any action taken from any kind of discomfort increases that discomfort. Conversely, any action taken from being in love creates and brings more love. Recognizing the feeling of discomfort or being aware about judging others for not agreeing with us is the first step to transmute those feelings and move in the direction of being in love. We live in a diverse world, where even those who seem to think alike often have differing opinions about what is right or wrong. When we choose deliberately and consciously to feel in love instead of feeling right—it’s only then that we are most likely to infuse and shower with love all people and encounters. Paradoxically, those who feel the opposite of love are those who are most in fear, therefore they are in need to be seen that they also can be in love.
“I think inclusivity is definitely an action. And it means bringing people in and making everyone feel valued. It’s about elevating voices and spaces for people who have been marginalized and haven’t had the opportunity to be heard. I think it happens when gatekeepers and people who are in positions of power step back and maybe relinquish some of that power, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Because it’s easy to say that you want inclusion and diversity, but there’s the action behind it as you may have to give up some of your resources. Like, it’s not just allowing tolerating and allowing people to be present, but you need to give power and empower those who don’t usually experience that. It’s not the mouthpiece, just showing someone’s picture someplace—it’s pushing those voices forward. And that’s the type of inclusion that I would like to see,” says Travina. She pauses and continues, “It starts with people having self-love and acceptance. And if you start with your own acceptance and self-love, and start walking in that, I think that can empower and influence other people to show up as their authentic selves. For some people, that’s very scary, but when you say yes, it is freedom of expression and being who you are. It makes it that mirror that you reflect back to people. It’s why you get to be free. It starts with you.”
We fuel the movement of the energies that create worlds through our flashlight of attention. Everything we give our attention to activates profound energies, eventually becoming real in our physical perception. The stories we continually tell ourselves about ourselves and our life continue to come back to us as different places and different faces. If we desire change, we must first change the narrative of what we say, feel, and project—as life will always express and reflect exactly what we focus on. We are the lifeforce expressing itself through our physicality. And there are infinite potentialities we can vibrationally tune into as we become more aware and sensitive to the evidence of the manifestation through our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and judgments.
Travina continues, passionately sharing about her creative expression as an artist: “I feel like being an actor or performer is something that I’ve been called to do. And I know that might sound cliche, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Because it’s really a true extension of who I am. If I’m not creating in some shape or form, I don’t feel in alignment. So, acting felt like a very natural medium in order to express myself. And I think storytelling is so important and powerful, it can really inspire, influence, impact people and really change hearts and minds. Having the gift of being a creator and a storyteller, is something that because of my belief in my faith, in who I am, it’s a disservice for me not to show up in the world in this way.”
We all have an immeasurable contribution to make to the Divine expansion. Through our asking, we receive. Asking often starts with some kind of comparison or judgment, so it’s a necessary step for sifting and sorting, clarifying our preferences. It’s when we stay too long in the asking that it builds momentum and becomes too uncomfortable—as well as harder to calibrate our Divine state of being in love. In shining the light to stories that are important to us and seeing these stories from the in love perspective, everyone who sees it will want to be in on it. Who doesn’t want to be in love?
“The way I contribute is through storytelling, and I think it’s important to show up as authentically as possible, which takes work to do. But doing that, and being involved in projects, and creating things that are important and meaningful. And that’s not always the case. But I think that when I do get the opportunity as an actor to sign on to something that is going to make an impact on people, that’s going to make people feel something, because as an artist I want people to feel something, that’s really when I get to contribute—getting people to maybe look at things differently—that’s really the best. I do that through my acting, and also I’m a comedian, I do stand up and storytelling,” shares Travina. She goes on, “When you connect with someone after a show and they’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t think about that. Or I didn’t know that.’ I mean, I did a comedy once at an interfaith show and a Jewish woman came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I didn’t know Muslims could laugh.’ I responded, ‘Yeah. We have a mouth, why couldn’t we laugh?’ Everybody laughs, but I realized the type of work that I do is important because something as simple as that representation can do a lot of good.”
Travina relishes in her experience of becoming Tyesha Hillman, the character she beautifully portrays on Ms. Marvel. The story follows Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani, a Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City obsessed with superheroes. Eventually Kamala becomes a superhero herself. “I’ve discovered about Tyesha, how unapologetically she shows up. And I’ve been trying to lean into that myself. So, I think that’s something that’s really beautiful about her. We both are converts to Islam, we just express our faith differently, but I understand her. She reminds me of a lot of women I know, which is really cool. And for a broader audience, they haven’t seen much a character like this; I think she’s unfamiliar. Muslim women haven’t been portrayed with this level of depth or levity, or even style, in the past. And so that’s what’s really special about portraying her. But I get her. I understand her because as I said, I know these people similar to her, and also, we have a lot of overlapping shared experiences. I just love how bold she is, and in the way she’s choosing to love. She’s entering into an interracial and intercultural marriage and relationship, and she chose a completely different faith from what she was raised in. She also dresses very well. Very fun being reminded that we can make the choices for our own path, what we would do and how we would like to show up in the world. And then when we do that, that can influence others to show up more authentically as well.”
Travina is thrilled and envisions the audience resonating with Ms. Marvel’s story. “People really resonate with these stories because they’re aspirational. I think superheroes kind of reflect this archetype. And people can sometimes connect with someone struggling with something, and then having the opportunity to rise to the occasion when necessary—most if not all of us have that ability. Superheroes are maybe a hyper-exaggerated example of that, of having to save the world. That’s a lot of pressure. But we can start small by saving ourselves or saving our community, or our families or our loved ones, and doing things and being heroes, if you will, in their lives and in our own life. And there’s also escapism that’s in there, and people like to see that and imagine things being different. But I expect and hope that people will watch the series and they’ll have a better understanding and sensitivity around Muslims and South Asians—and really see that people are people in their family, they love each other, and they just want to experience joy as well as everyone else. We’re a lot more the same than we are different. And again, I hope that watching our characters, that inspires people to do the same thing—show up as themselves and maybe do good things in their community, help out their friends. You don’t just have to save somebody falling from a tower. That happens. Kamala is just a teenager, and then she gets all these superhero superpowers. And regular folks can sometimes surprise themselves with what they are capable of doing, given the right resources.”
Seeing the best in ourselves will naturally bring us to the perspective of seeing the best in others. This optimistic approach to life is also to give the benefit of the doubt to those who we recognize are in a misalignment with who they really are. By holding the unwavering presence of being in love, we stand a greater chance of inviting others to calibrate with their innate state of being—being in love and the continuance of the infinite ripple effect that state brings about.
“I lean into optimism; I tend to be a really optimistic person. And I try to see the best in situations, and I also try to lead with curiosity. I’ve always been very curious. And so, I think with that in the optimism, I tend to also lead with love. That’s not hard for me. I see the best in people, sometimes my dad hates that love to trust. I’m really sensitive. I lead with my emotions, my feelings, and my heart. And I think that, at one point, I used to have a lot of shame around it, that I could feel so much. But now I really do feel like it’s a superpower, it’s something that’s into my ability to pick up on things. I’d wish more people had more empathy; we would be in a much better place if we had more empathy on a global scale. And what I love seeing others is—I love when I see people who are in joy, and then that I can tell that they’re also showing up in their truth and really authentically. I can see it in people, and I think that’s really beautiful to see. I’m so inspired by it. It makes me so happy when people are happy. I love watching it because it also inspires me to lean into that as well.
Photography // Kim Newmoney