We had the good fortune of connecting with Zion Harris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zion, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Growing up as a kid, I came from a small town called Richmond in the Bay Area. Richmond is definitely not somewhere that was sweet and welcoming for visitors or even its own community. Shootings, robberies and police cars is all you would ever hear about in the news sources. The crime rate in my area was ranked 11th amongst the 20 most dangerous cities in California. It was always terrifying for me to go outside as a kid and grow up in the neighborhood with friends due to all the violence around. The school I went to, I would always get bullied for being so nice and flamboyant.. but none of that ever stopped me. I always knew I had a dream and goals to make it out and become successful. After moving out of the city I discovered more opportunity, new friends, and almost a new life. I gained a new passion for music and dance going into an Arts School. It almost felt like I was dreaming in a sense. Never have I ever been in such a great living environment before, where people didn’t judge, bully or criticize every factor of your existence. It took time to accept and adjust my past circumstances, but you can only dread so much on the past. The impact in relationships I have built within my life is something I learned not to take for granted. Being able to use those experiences I went thru of toughness, carved me into the person that cares and respects even harder than how i was treated. Dance ignited the discipline and self-love I never knew I had within myself and I cherish that til this day.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a professional dancer, there are a lot things that you want to do but you might not be ready for it. I would always take classes and showcase my talent to its fullest potential. After years of training and working hard, I was proposed with an opportunity of industry work. Going into my first Music Video set, it was definitely a rude awakening. Having to rehearse, clean and perfect a piece for over 50 hours+ before you go on to set. 13 hour shoots and recordings with the artists. Rehearsals definitely challenge your intelligence as a dancer and how to work through it progressively. It is not always easy coming in and having to learn multiple routines or a long dance set with a lot of people. You have to come in at the door motivated and ready to work hard, no matter what kind of day you’ve had. I’ve learned to value the memories and history in the making of each job. Showing gratitude for each job I am apart of because there are millions of people that dream to accomplish such big things. It’s so important to live in the present moment and to never rush your path and your destiny. I love to go by the saying , “what is meant for you, is meant for you.” Not everything will happen in your favor, it’s all in divine timing of when it’s supposed to happen. Once that moment is gone, you can’t get it back, so cherish every moment you get. I will always have a passion for dance and goals to create unforgettable pieces, art, and energy for others to connect to
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
On a off day, I’d love to just kick back and go have a picnic at Santa Monica Beach with my best friend. We aren’t as interested in all the chaos and busyness in the main cities, but for drinks we love to go into West Hollywood to party a little bit. Of course, now we are more cautious due to the global pandemic that we are in. It’s hard to celebrate how we really want to in this period of time, but we’d rather prioritize safety for ourselves and others in our community. Always fun being around my dance friends, we can literally go to lunch anywhere and make it the best time of our lives. It’s crazy still being in a pandemic with restrictions and face masks. I would say I get most of my excited from attending multiple dance classes a day.
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?
Starting off my dance journey with my Auntie Kim was the best decision I have made in my life. She introduced me to West African dance and at first I didn’t trust my interest, but she never gave me an option to give up on myself. I then joined the Golden State Warriors Jr. Jam Squad where I danced behind legendary artists and discovered my passion for industry style of dance. Being apart of Culture Shock Oakland, I gained the experience of being in a family, where we all grew up dancing together and performing nationally on stage. As my journey continued, I auditioned for Chapkis Dance Family, and I started doing extreme competitions and major shows which then led into dreams coming true. I began choreographing more, dancing in music videos with “Daddy Yankee, Karol G, J-Balvin, Anuel AA , Natti Natasha” and etc.. Going on my first Tour as an 18 year old being at the time was such a big opportunity for me. I wouldn’t be here without the help of Naomi Diouf, Kim Battiste, Dominique Battiste, Richard Curtis, Amber and Greg Chapkis and most importantly my mom Tina Harris. She has sacrificed so much for me to become the person I am today in the industry. I am so grateful for all these people listed and all the dedication they have set for me alone, my family and friends that support me along my journey. I have so much more to prove and accomplish for them and I will.
Getty images Sf Gate Evan Sinay Photos