It’s Not As Glitzy As You Think
From the outside in, working in the industry may appear extremely glamorous. The industry is a mixture of highs and lows. Not everything is as it seems. Our day to day is a mixture of rude artist, improper holding stations, dirty makeup brushes, egotistical directors, and not so nice co-workers. I’ve had sets where directors have referred to me as “The Dancer” for 8+ hours. HELLO, I HAVE A NAME. Or better yet, when directors treat you like crap till they realize the artist is friendly with you. I was standing in for Nicki Minaj on a recent video and the director instructed me to not talk to her, make eye contact, or try to engage her in any way. Then he looks me up and down and goes who hired you as a stand-in? The first thing Nicki did when she walked in was say Hi. From that point forward the director treated me like his BFF, even giving me a pat on the back. I am no stranger to being treated like the bottom of the barrel. The constant thing pulling us through is the desire to live our dream or just to not fail. God knows there are a million people back home waiting to say I told you so. Let's be real a lot of people check your social media just to see if you've failed. @IreneAshu, still thriving.
In between all the chaos I LOVE MY JOB! It is an amazing feeling to get up every day and do what I love. It is amazing I get to share my passion with the world. I’ve had my fair share of extremely generous artist, kind directors, talented make-up artist, delicious crafty, and friendly co-workers. I’ve gained so many meaningful relationships! You find what you look for.
Hey Mama was my first major music video. London Alley was the first production company that made me feel valued, appreciated and cared for as a dancer. The make-up artists were friendly, the stylist was considerate, and the dancers I worked with are some of the best in the industry. This video gave me a lot of hope and revalidated my love for entertainment and music videos. Hannah Lux Davis is an amazing director. My style of dance incorporates a lot of tricks and I never felt rushed or pressured to execute without warming up. This music video was crazy in all departments because everyone felt valued. The dancers would chat and be like “London Alley is really dope, I want to throw all my best stuff”. From the footage, you can clearly see we were going in! The vibe was lit. The way you are treated reflects the kind of performance you give. I will give you a dry freestyle if I feel dry.
Post 12-Hour Shoot
David Guetta is extremely polite. I broke into his private snack table when I thought no one was looking. Guess who is the first person to catch me? David Guetta of course. I had no idea what he looked like in person. He went out of his way to say “ Hey are these snacks good, I am grateful to have you out here shooting this video in the middle of the desert, whats your name?”. He is one of few artists I would work for again in a heartbeat! #TeamGuetta
Treat Us With Dignity
Two years ago I sustained a terrible injury (full Achilles tendon rupture) at a JOKE of an audition. The choreographer was rude and abrasive, the agency asked how many followers we had (good and bad thing-times are changing), and we were rushed to dance and throw our tricks right away. I am generally more aware of energy and who I want to work with now. I will not allow myself to be treated like a trained circus animal. I will only work for directors, choreographers, and creatives that don’t appreciate what I do. I value the time of others and they should value my time. Target ran this bull-shit audition for 8-hours across three days. If you want to see that much talent for a 20-second low paying commercial, ask for video submissions. As long as dancers keep showing up to these things and allowing agencies, choreographers, brands, and directors to treat us like crap- the cycle of malicious treatment will never stop.
Some shoots can range from 6-14 hour days. As a dancer that means being ready to go at any given time. This means not having the proper time to warm-up, not always having a hot meal, not always having an adequate place to rest, and not always feeling safe. As you grow you learn to demand how you want to be treated. I’ve worked with some amazing artist and some awful artist. The awful artists teach me who I NEVER want to work for again, and why you should always be kind. The amazing artists give me the energy to keep pushing forward. The industry is an amazing place and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything else. I relish my early call times, getting in full-face glam, hot wardrobe, delicious crafty, working with talented creatives, and performing with people I’ve dreamt of meeting as a child. The hustle is real but it’s worth it.