When I was three years old my mom put me in dance class. Even as a child, I realized that I had a natural drive to perform. I loved being in front of people and getting to do what I loved most, which was dancing at the time. I recognized I was gifted and at the age of 13 so I started pursuing this further by becoming a SparKid (a dancer for the Los Angeles WNBA Sparks team). It was here that I began dreaming even bigger: I hoped to one day become a Laker girl (a cheerleader for leading Los Angeles basketball team, the LA Lakers). With my dream set, I knew it wouldn’t be easy and that I needed to be prepared to do what it takes to make the team.
Throughout my teenage years I began taking more dance, acting and modeling classes to increase my skill level. During this time, my mom would drive my sister and me to auditions where I experienced firsthand the competitive world of entertainment. When I first started auditioning I would go home and wonder why I didn’t get the job, thinking maybe it was because I needed to look different, or that I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough. These types of thoughts would cause anyone to begin losing their internal self-worth. In all my auditioning, it seemed like my sister was more likely to book the job, and it was hard to not compare myself to her. This experience forced me to have a deeper understanding of myself, and also a deeper understanding that all things work together at just the right time. I realized that there was no value in comparing myself to another person – even someone I loved and was rooting for.
This lesson was essential when it came time to pursue my dream of becoming a Laker girl. I tried out for the team fresh out of high school and got cut after the second round. At first it was devastating. I had practiced and prepared and then was turned away. Again I felt that ‘rejection’ I experienced in my earlier years of auditioning, but I knew one rejection was not enough to kill my dream.
As a performer, I believe we must be comfortable with the word “NO.” We have to learn that this word is not a reflection of who you are, but rather a sign of the timing not being right at that point in your life. After my first rejection from the team, I chose to work harder and continued to prepare for the next audition. I ended up auditioning a total of three times and finally made the cut when I was 23! Through this experience I learned to be more confident in myself, and to love myself and allow my inner beauty to shine.
The process of becoming a Laker girl was no easy task. Though I strive to not rely on my external appearance solely, becoming a Laker girl did have a lot to do with my outer appearance. In other words, the job required me to “look the part.” For me it came down to being disciplined. There is a healthy way to reach your fitness goals without depriving your body of what it needs, and I chose to prepare for this audition by staying focused on bettering myself by eating clean. Throughout that process, it was important for me to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to stay very active.
Fitness has always been a big part of my life, back to my dance classes when I was really little. Even then, I knew it was important to be confident in my skin if I was going to have to wear those outfits when performing on stage. It’s important to be in shape where you feel confident about yourself and what you are doing! I now teach fitness and I always encourage anyone I work with to set goals. I always create a check list and focus on enjoying marking things off when I see what was once a dream, but is now a fulfilled reality.
I am someone who has always chosen to believe things would work out. One of my favorite scripture verses is Jeremiah 29:11, which reminds me that God has a plan for me that is going to prosper me and not harm me. I rely heavily on this truth. It is easy to begin thinking negative thoughts when things are not working out the way you want them to. For example, I could have stayed discouraged after being turned away twice from the Lakers and chosen to give up. Instead, I refused to believe one audition defined my worth and kept doing what I loved to do, choosing to let go of all doubts and keep trying. In those moments, it was more important for me to remember who I was and to keep a positive attitude and let positive thoughts flow through my mind. I really believe that you have to discipline your mind to believe in yourself and what you are doing anytime you set a goal and go after it. I encourage people to remain grounded in who they are, and to focus on balancing their external (physical) and internal (mental and spiritual) selves. Here are some of my top tips for finding this balance:
- Don’t beat yourself up when trying to achieve your fitness goals. Keep trying, even when you don’t think things are happening – they are!
- Remind yourself that it takes time…show yourself some grace.
- Be willing to work for it. It doesn’t happen if you’re not willing to work for it.
- Dieting isn’t a must, but be smart about giving yourself the right nutrients you need.
- Stay active. Do activities that you enjoy!
- Drink lots of water. A gallon a day will allow you to look and feel your best.
- It’s OK to have a cheat day – allow yourself to enjoy life. Remember it’s all about balance!
- Eat healthy portions and allow yourself a treat once in a while.
- Do this journey with a friend and rely on their accountability.
Avoid toxic people! Minimize the negative influences around you (poor attitudes, whiners, complainers). Say no to anything that doesn’t add something valuable to your life. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people!