The Netflix dark comedy Beef from the mind of Lee Sung Jin is a story of rage — road rage to be specific. Jin pulled experiences from his own life to inform a story of rage, the catharsis that comes from that as well as the boundaries of unconditional love. Starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, Beef follows the aftermath of a road rage incident between two strangers. Danny (Yeun), a failing contractor with a chip on his shoulder and Amy (Wong). Both are dealing with some major life changes in their lives but this particular road rage incident is the straw that breaks the camel’s back as they ignite a feud that wildly unravel their lives and relationships.
That said, Netflix organized “Release Your Rage” events in Los Angeles and New York, where participants can do just that. These events included activities like sound baths, bundling your own sage, painting a picture, potting your own plants and, of course, food and drink. The idea was to release your rage and turn it into eventual understanding and forgiveness. What better way to explore this than with iconic and “retired” celebrity stylist and Legendary judge Law Roach.
Recently, Roach announced his retirement and did not mince words about the industry in an interview with The Cut. He talked about the obstacles, hoops, frustrations he faced while a stylist but there was one thing that he had: burn out. After the audience participated in a sound bath and 15-minute meditation session, Roach took the stage with GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos at the Beef event in Los Angeles to have a conversation about clips from Beef as well as navigating rage, healing, and the aforementioned burn out.
“I think that we’re conditioned to look at working all the time as a badge of honor. Right?,” Roach said. He said that we are often conditioned to compete about who is the busiest and that not sleeping and being tired because of work is some form of success and something to brag about.
“If you’re not overextending yourself; if you’re not working yourself to the bone; if you’re not barely making it; if you’re not sick if you’re not annoyed then you really aren’t being successful –and that was really one of my big things. I just said this the whole time: I’ve been suffering for success… I realized that I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I want my success and I want my success to be linked to my happiness, not my unhappiness.”
Roach watched clips from Beef with Ramos and the audience to unpack feelings of rage and how Roach connected with what the emotion — specifically the clip of the inciting incident of the whole series.
“I think that I’ve given so much of me to my clients and to my career that I don’t really know when the last time that I was a priority for me,” Roach tells Ramos. “I had some things that happened but I wasn’t mad at them. I wasn’t mad at everybody on the outside. I was mad at myself. I was mad because I figured out that I didn’t love myself and so all my rage was internal.”
Roach admits that he was suffering while he was achieving success and says that since his retirement from the greater landscape of the celebrity stylist world, he feels a sense of grief. He came to the Beef event with an open mind to walk away with some tools to help him heal from that grief — whether that be planting a plant, creating a sage bundle or painting a cathartic picture.
As one of the top — if not the top stylist in the biz — Roach shared how he thought that, intitially, there wasn’t a place for him to exist in this world. He became a symbol of what’s possible for others that looked like him — and he doesn’t let they slip his mind. “I actually met a young boy in New York and he said [to me], ‘I know I can because you did’ and that I will take wioth me for the rest of my life. It’s really important for me because I look at my retirement as making space, right? It’s making space for somebody else and other people.”
As a queer person of color, Roach shared a lot of his experiences that are often eclipsed by the glamorous red carpet and celebrity of it all. Not many people know the hard work he did to get there. “I think when I when I started my career, I never wanted to be quiet,” he said, adding that in his experience people of color have always dominated in the styling world. “I’ve always been fighting for the recognition not just for myself, but other people who look like me and want to do what I’ve done… I never wanted to be disregarded. I never want to feel invisible. So anytime that I came up against [pushback], I was ready to fight.”
That being said, Roach began to protect his peace and after watching clips from Beef and the conversations with some of the characters, he talked about the importance of saying no. “That was an ongoing fight with my agent,” he starts. “I will say no to things and he would come back and convince me to do it and then when I’m doing it, I’m f*cking miserable.” He used this as a lesson in saying no and now that he is retired you think he can breathe a little easier, but people are still trying to hire him — and some of them won’t accept that he is retired. “One of my clients, bless her heart… she just won’t believe it,” said Roach. “Her team is sending dates and I’m like, ‘I’m done’.
“I’ve had that situation happen a bunch of times and I think you’re no should remain your no,” he states. “Because there’s something about listening to your instincts and listening to your gut… and if your gut is telling you, it’s not for you, it’s probably not for you.”