We have another inspiring woman we would like for you to get to know! This week’s #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY is Jessica Castro. Jessica has been in the entertainment industry for over 19 years. Not only is she an outstanding dancer and performer, but she’s also an incredible mother and a mentor to so many dancers in our community.
When Jessica first moved to New York, she quickly joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance program. After that, she became a Knicks City Dancer for the New York Knicks and blossomed into one of the top working dancers in the industry. Jessica has toured the world and danced for artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Pharrell, Rihanna, and Mariah Carey. She’s been on numerous television shows and movies, and she’s had the pleasure of performing on two iconic Super Bowl halftime shows: Janet Jackson and Beyoncé. As a fearless, athletic, and adventurous woman, it is no surprise that she was also a part of the extraordinary “Fuerzabruta” cast in New York.
Jessica Castro is making a huge impact in the industry as the creator of Lipstick Diaries (http://www.lipstickdiariesnyc.com), too. This heels intensive is led by some of the baddest women in the business, and it fuses all genres of heels together onto one platform, refining and unleashing the woman that’s within. Jessica’s passion for the arts, for women, and for empowerment is undeniable and contagious. She’s truly transforming careers and lives one heel at a time. Thank you Jessica for taking this time to inspire our YGTGirls!
You created Lipstick Diaries because there wasn't a format for turning passion into career. Was there a lot of trial and error in creating and building your business? Can you tell us about any struggles you went through that you came out stronger because of?
Lipstick Diaries NYC started out as a passion project. I created it because I felt as if there wasn’t a safe, supportive platform for women in this industry. Anytime I would teach, I would have so many of my students stop me after class and ask me all sorts of questions. Questions such as; how do they get an agent, how should they do their hair or wardrobe for an upcoming audition, how am I still relevant in this business almost 20 years later, how do I juggle being a mom and a working artist, how do they keep professional relationships in this business. I would literally spend hours talking to them, that they almost became mini lectures! lol!
I realized, that just like me, they had no clue how to start their career. I remember being so lost and making so many mistakes at the beginning of my journey. I wished someone would have just sat me down and given me words of wisdom and guidance. We all have our own path. The path will be different for everyone. BUT, regardless if you walk or run, we will all face the same obstacles, just in a different order.
And thats how LDNYC was born. I wanted these women to learn from other powerful women. Women that have all been in their shoes, and in return are able to give them them priceless insight as to what it takes to turn your passion into your career. As women we face so many things that men will never have to deal with. We are expected to be beautiful, have amazing bodies, dance in a heel while wearing barely nothing at times, but also be strong and hit the step like men. We are constantly proving that we are just as powerful in a male dominated industry all while still being creative! It goes without saying that women understand other women’s struggles. And thats why the intensive is for women taught by women.
You have had such incredible success in your career and with your business. What do you think has been an important aid to helping you thrive?
The one thing that continues to help me be successful is the same thing that has carried me throughout my career. I don’t see myself doing anything else. Which requires me to be my own cheerleader! I have heard so many “NO’s” in my lifetime. But I had to believe in myself, I had to. Even on days where I would cry myself to sleep and wanted to give up. There were many days where I questioned my career choice. We all go through seasons in our life. Some are better than others. The one thing that I have learned is that when I’m going through a dry season, it’s because I’m being prepped for whats to come. So now I secretly get nervous and excited in expectation for the doors that will be opening. A dancers life is a hard one, but its also a beautiful one. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!
Not only are you a huge influence and business women in the dance world but you are a mama! Can you tell about how this experience has shaped you as a woman?
Becoming a mom was both exciting and scary. When I found out I was having a baby, I freaked out. I kept on thinking “How am I going to do this?”…. If I can’t dance then I can’t work. If I can’t work then i can’t make money.
Luckily, I have great example of moms that are in the business. They are extremely successful and are amazing moms. I knew that if they could do it so could I. I am blessed to have such a supportive family. They are my rock. I’m also fortunate to have AN ARMY OF WOMEN that help me with my daughter. It’s a juggling act that is constantly changing.
However, my daughter has given me a new found strength that I never knew I had. She has given me a different sense of purpose. I want her to be able to look at me and be proud of me. I want her to never feel as if she can’t accomplish anything she puts her mind to. In order for that to happen, I have to be that for her.
What is the advice you'd give to your 10-year old self?
“Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to follow your dreams, you have all the permission you need within yourself.”
What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?
A YGTGirl is about empowering young women and giving them a platform where they can flourish and grow with no judgement!