We had the good fortune of connecting with Eva Jerkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eva, why did you pursue a creative career?
Honestly, because I couldn’t function without it. Though I will always try to do my absolute best at any job, I was never happy when I tried to do anything else. And in a way, having a career doing what I love feels like life’s ultimate cheat code. Besides, art is more than a career to me. It is the way I speak, the way I advocate for others, and the way I explore the world. Work doesn’t feel like work. I could never pass that up, no matter how hard the journey may be.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Wow, This is a great question. First, I would have to say though I am always aspiring for better technical skills (which the pandemic has really influenced!), I always feel I am at my best when I speak through movement. Even if the choreography I’m performing is not mine, which is most common, I am always connecting it to either how the song makes me feel, what event in my life the piece reminds me of, or even just what I spiritually need at that moment. Having that Stanislavski-influenced connection of finding a way, to tell the truth within a piece that is not my own combined with a good work ethic to any given piece is when I am at my best. This journey has not been easy by any means. Many things have happened that have been confusing, hurtful, or just plain exhausting. Coming from the Midwest to LA, I really had a hard time adjusting to the area’s expenses. It’s been hard to keep going while family has been sick or friends from home have passed away, or even just existing with the challenges that many Black women face. I would say three things have been my saving grace; faith, a solid support team, and rest. Though my relationship with God and the unwavering support of family and friends has been constant, I think I have really recently learned that rest is essential. The pandemic has been a tough time for so many people, but it has also been a forced reset. We’ve had to sit with ourselves and really examine so much. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to sit down. I would really want the world to know that love is everything. Love is all. Of course, I love to perform for myself. The feeling right before you go on stage as an artist is really like none other. But if I’m not serving anyone, then what am I doing? Even if it’s as simple as showing other young girls (who were also taught by external forces that they weren’t good enough) that it’s possible to go after their dreams, I need to be doing something for someone else. That’s what’s most important to me, to love through art.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Honestly, I really like to eat. Our trip would probably greatly consist of eating at both places I have eaten and have never been to before. A couple of places I have been that I would take my bestie to would The Serving Spoon or Cafe Sheera. I would also make it a point to visit the California African American museum and maybe a Universal Studios tour. I’d also love to show my best friend where I normally am (sans pandemic) a lot of the time. I would take her to Playground LA and encourage her to join me in Kennis’s no-pressure grooves class or Dexter Carr’s beginner class. Fuzion Force LA and Millennium Dance Complex are also places I would love to show her as I used to be at any one of the three types most days a week! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people I would love to shout out! First, I would be absolutely remiss if I did not shout out my mom and stepdad. Where I’m from, a dance career was not always celebrated, yet they completely supported me without hesitation. They would even sacrifice things for themselves to ensure I could train and wouldn’t ever try to talk me out of my dreams. I appreciate them beyond words. Second, I have to give so much love and gratitude to my grandfather. Unfortunately, he has recently passed from this world but his love and support are also a huge part of who I am. His strong faith and belief in me have aided in mapping the way. Third, I would really have to shoutout and thank Joe Brown and Stroll Groove. Not only is he a great person, but he is a great educator. Through my involvement with Stroll Groove, I have learned, grown, and connected with what I like to call my family away from home. They provided support and encouragement every step of the way, and I am full of gratitude. Thank you, family! Lastly, I would love to shoutout to my agency and to all of the women, all of the Black women, and all humans that continue to inspire me. Without Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Pearl Primus, Katherine Dunham, and so many others, there would not be a space for me. I am eternally grateful for the giving of themselves for a future they wouldn’t see.
Tariq Tarey Lamica Carter Devmatic Joe Brown