We interviewed yet another inspiring woman this week! We are so excited for you to get to know our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY, Deja Riley! This passionate woman has been dancing since she was three years old and has always known she wanted to be a performer. Deja is a firecracker and we love how she spreads her fiery energy to everyone she meets. This unstoppable girl is a firm believer that you can do anything you set your mind to, provided you make the commitment to pursuing the journey. Deja embodies the inner strength and power we gain through growth. She exemplifies how difficult situations and unfamiliar experiences are sometimes the catalysts we need to discover the path that is more aligned with who we are.

Deja has had outstanding success as a professional dancer! She has gone on a world tour with Trey Songz and has performed for some of music’s most esteemed icons including, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Shakira and Nicki Minaj. Although Deja believed her true life’s calling was to dance professionally, she began to realize that dancing was no longer fulfilling for her. Deja listened to her intuition and made the courageous decision to transition out of dance and enter the fitness industry. This amazing woman is the Founding & Master Coach at BoxUnion, a PUMA Team Faster Trainer and a Fitness Model and Influencer for the Handstand App. Deja has taken a whole new world by a storm and has found her purpose in being able to do what she loves while giving back to others. We also had the honor of having Deja as a guest speaker at YGTG’s first ever #WOMENSCIRCLE in LA last month. We are so grateful to have heard Deja share such incredible words on the #METOO movement and bring light to a significant and prevalent issue facing many women today.

Deja’s vivacious presence is undeniable and we admire how she seeks no approval except her own! This beautiful woman encourages all of us to continually strive to be the best versions of ourselves and to aspire to empower other women around us to follow their dreams, too. Deja recognizes the importance of supporting one another and reminds us to build each other up in the simple day-to-day interactions and opportunities! Deja is fearless and she is definitely not afraid to use her voice to stand up for what’s right. Thank you Deja for motivating us to be both brave and bold and most importantly…to take chances!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

You literally kick ass and teach others how to fearlessly push themselves to their limits! Why do you think it’s important for us to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, especially women?

I believe that women are the source of this world’s strength. It is vital that we push ourselves out of our comfort zones to educate ourselves about the unknown, develop a pattern of constant growth and push ourselves as well as others forward. A place of comfort is a beautiful yet stagnant location. One of my favorite motivational quotes comes from NY Times Best-SellerNora Roberts, “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place”.

Tell us about a time when you found yourself in a dark, negative place. How did you pull yourself out of that and how do you learn from those down moments?

It is ironic to me that I found myself in the darkest, most negative place when I was operating in what I thought to be my life’s purpose: DANCING. I started my journey in dance at the age of 3 and from that moment forward I always knew I wanted to be a performer. I’ve always loved to move my body and throughout my childhood, dance made me the happiest…so I thought it was a no brainer. I was meant to go out into the world and become a professional dancer. The truth is YES, I had a very successful career touring the world with Trey Songz and performing with many of the music industry’s icons such as Beyonce, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Shakira, Nicki Minaj and so many more. But NO, I was not happy.

The short moments that I was up on stage or on the TV/movie screen were so magical. The problem was I spent most of my time struggling to pay my bills, dealing with industry issues and working my body to the bone to be told NO, more times than I was ever told YES. I sought validation in anything that would make me feel special even just for a quick minute and I was not my best self.

I’ve learned so many incredible lessons from my past. Here are just a few that I currently live by:

1. Happiness is a CHOICE!

2. Confidence not cockiness is key. You have to first believe in yourself and love yourself before anyone else truly can.

3. Decide. Commit. Succeed. (Applies to ANYTHING you do!)

Now, I can truly be a voice for young women in our society. I’ve found my true purpose. I’m able to fulfill my heart’s desire of performing while giving back to others simultaneously. I’ve created a new avenue for me to perform and shine while living my best life. I’m now a fitness professional. I’m now a joyful, confident, beautiful woman. 

What are three qualities you believe a female leader should embody?

A female leader should embody strength, courage & wisdom. Yes, I did get this from India Arie but she sang it best.

How can women support each other more?

We as women can support each other more in the simplest ways. See a beautiful woman walking down the street? Tell her you think she’s beautiful! See a woman share a powerful post on IG? Comment, like and share it! Don’t overlook the little things. We all need more love and support from our soul sisters.

What's your definition of a YGTGirl?

I’ve seen so many inspiring & motivating queens on the YGTG #FemmeFeatureFriday. THEY are all the true definition of a YGTGirl and I’m honored to be in such great company.