Overcoming Fear: Speaking on my First Panel

This week I spoke on my first ever panel at the SAG Foundation on ‘Growing Your Social Media Following’. I was absolutely terrified before going out there, but let me just say it went really well. Except for the moment I set off an alarm and locked myself and all the other badass panelists in the elevator right before the panel began… more on that later. The other panelists were: Arda @ardaocaltv (our talented moderator), Heidi @marketing4actors (social media pro), Tony @tonyhowell (digital guru), and Jessy @socialmediaagent (next level brand partnership leader).

Lillian Isabella at SAG Foundation

I was asked to be on this panel because I’m an actor, writer, model, and social media expert. After graduating NYU Tisch with a BFA in Theatre I dove right into social media and built a large following including 45,000+ on Facebook and 22,000+ on Twitter. Then I took on clients including Tribeca Film Institute, I increased their Instagram following by over 300%, their Twitter following by over 50%, and their Instagram following by over 25%. Needless to say I love social media and the power it has to connect people.


Okay back to the panel – this was my first time ever speaking on a panel but I have spoken in front of large crowds before. The thing I love most about public speaking is it’s a chance to genuinely connect with a roomful of other humans and get them excited. In this case we were talking about something I’m usually pretty jazzed about anyway.

The panel was all about looking at social media from an actor/brand perspective. How can you best utilize social media to amplify your brands reach and message? It became clear pretty quickly that all of us panelists agree social media is about genuinely connecting with people more than being a sounding board for your artistic endeavors. Social Media Pro Tip: Use your storytelling abilities to create an engaging narrative about who you are and what you’re about then connect with the people you want to work with.

You can watch the panel in its entirety here:

I want to work with everyone who spoke on the panel on Monday and I’m thrilled I got to meet them. Also although my nerve wracked brain fantasized about suddenly not being able to attend the panel (safety!) I’m so happy I was in fact able to go. It was a life changing experience and I can’t wait to speak on a panel again. Making people laugh is really addicting. Not so funny was when the amazing NY Program Director of the SAG Foundation Melissa Zakri Zareh, the other 3 panelists and I got stuck in the elevator because I accidentally leaned on the emergency button with my butt. Luckily Melissa used her staff badge to whisk us out of that situation and get the elevator doors to open. Sorry team! Haha. Okay maybe it was a tiny bit funny, but only because it didn’t last long.

On a more serious note, I’m noticing those moments where I do something in spite of my fear often wind up being life changing for me. I’m reminded of that Kafka story where the man stands in front of a gate waiting for permission from the gatekeeper to go through. He waits for many years until he’s on the verge of death but then finds out the door was only meant for him to go through this whole time and now it’s too late and it’s closed to him forever. Yikes! In reality we are both that eager striving man and that gatekeeper. Our fear often keeps us from walking through a gate of opportunity, growth, and new expansion. However we also hold the power to change that and push through. Take that, fear.