We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie DeVilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, how do you think about risk?
I’ve been a risk taker all my life but never realized it until recently. Without knowing it, I have always evaluated risk and unless it was life threatening or foolish, usually chosen to take it! Embracing risk brought me to Virginia Commonwealth University where I studied fine art and dance, risk brought me to Los Angeles, where I pursued a career as a union Make up artist at nearly impossible odds and brought me back to a dance career I believed had passed me by. Risk was a driving force when I chose to balance two full time careers. It’s been good and bad, elating and exhausting, both careers have suffered under the weight of the other, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have always had two driving mottos since I was very young! 1. I will never look in the mirror and say, “woulda, coulda, shoulda!” 2. Jump! The net will appear.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a make up artist, I am known for contemporary, period and paint and powder FX make up looks. I’m very pleased with the work I’ve done on “Hollywood” and “Ratched” but so honored and please to be included on the Emmy nomination ticket for “American Horror Story- Apocalypse” by my Department Head Eryn Krueger Mekash. As a performer, I am know for my elegant, graceful and theatrical stage works both solo and with the amazing dancers of Sekhmet Dance Company, a company I have run for more than 10 years. We have performed at large stage Galas, restaurant shows and festivals in the south land and beyond. I am most proud that we were able to film socially distanced dances and paired them with our best stage works from the last 10 years to produce our 10 year retrospective show that aired on January 1st 2021. we will be airing this again on line in the spring. For the past 10 years I have worked 10-16 hour days Monday – Friday, taught dance classes on Saturdays from 10am-12pm and run the company rehearsals. No matter how busy, tired or frustrated, every show both solo or with the dance companies has been worth it. My ultimate goal has been to empower women. If I can do that through dance, make up or fitness, I’m doing my job. If I /we can perform and entertain the public, bonus!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The last time my best friend, Suzanne Warfield came to visit, I took her to my show with Sekhmet Dance Company at Moun of Tunis Restaurant in Hollywood, CA.. She loved it and is one of our biggest fans and my web designer! Currently in Covid times I’m hard pressed to say where I would take her. we would probably spend time at the Ocean and driving through Hollywood, pointing out the places we used to haunt! We actually spend more time together in zoom than we did before the pandemic. Suzanne, has become a force of nature in her own rite as a Kundalini yoga instructor! We’ve come a long way since VCU. Check her out at Suzanne warfield @sueleewah.com
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list of humans who deserve a shout out to my evolution is long! My mother Anna Bowles, told me when I was young that I could be anything I wanted to be. My Grandmother Virginia, thought that everything I did was amazing and told me I had “Star Quality”. I did not know what she meant. These women are my best friends and biggest champions to this day. Virginia has passed on, I hear her words daily! High School did not prove to have any real strong female mentors but once I got to VCU I met a very old woman named Teresa King. Her daughter had danced for and they had both traveled the world with George Balanchine. Teresa and I were in painting classes together and established a deep and long friendship until she passed. I am thankful that I discovered and had begun my dance career before she passed because I got to dance for her in her hospital room and she was soooo happy. In the Make Up world I cultivated a few close friends and most of us are still together. It’s a very competitive field. The list of women who taught and coached me in the art of Middle Eastern Dance is huge. Their influences are HUGE! Anja Christy was my first real mentor and told me I had what it took to work as a dance artist. Anja, led me to her mentor Zahra Zuhair, who pushed me gently but made me do big things. From there I began taking workshops and traveling to Egypt to study. There was no going back. Thank you, Helena Vlahos for always being my champion, Fahtiem the dream for pushing me to reach for the stars, Jillina for the tough love and continued support, Sahra C. Kent for all encouragement and knowledge, all the amazing artist I have studied with in Egypt , Raquia Hassan and more, and thank You Kamala Almanzar for your constant encouragement and training. Dancing with you is a dream come true! Most recently I must thank Surreyya Hada for incorporating me into the “Dangerous Beauties” and training me to be an amazing pilates instructor and to Lisa Zahiya for being a BOMB business coach! My deepest thank you goes out to my husband, Johnny DeVilla, who has tolerated and supported my wild artistic endeavors as I have his! My apologies to anyone i may have left out!
Youtube: DeVilla and Sekhmet Dance Company
Carl Sermon Kat Bushman Dusti Cunnigham Cristina Hughes