CREATIVES IN FOCUS
Hi friends, this week I had a “Creatives in Focus” interview with the talented Elishia Edwards. She is a singer, dancer, recording artist and model. We spoke about her creative journey as a triple threat and her experience navigating the industry. Grab a cup of tea and let us get stuck in.
Vicky: Tell me about yourself?
Elishia: I am Elishia Edwards, I am a singer, recording artist and model from Bradford. I recently moved to London to pursue my creative careers.
Vicky: Tell me about your creative journey?
Elishia: At school, I did a lot of extracurricular activities such as the Rock Challenge, which ignited a passion for the stage and the spotlight. Beforehand I used to busk in Bradford town and meet with different dancers while busking. We got noticed by the community groups like BYDP and BRATHAY and worked on different projects raising money for charities like Wish Upon a Star, charities for disadvantaged children and cancer awareness charities. This experience has remained with me and taught me to live selflessly.
I realised that in the industry you needed to be a triple threat, so you need to be able to sing, dance or/and act. I was advised to study musical theatre, I applied to several colleges however every single one turned me away due to my lack of ballet experience. I was initially discouraged but I attended one last audition at SLP College. The principal took me on as her Wild Card and I gained a scholarship to study Musical Theatre for three years, where I found my voice. I trained Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm singing, dancing and acting. I would also stay after college to practice ballet on my own. Saturday and Sunday, I would work at JD Sports to support myself financially. I started at the bottom, the first show I did I had a small role, but I saw myself doing more in the future. My third-year show, I was a centrepiece. I graduated in 2016 and reality hit.
After graduating I moved back to Bradford and started my own dance school called Zeta May Dance Academy named after my grandmother who passed away. I was running my dance school and at the same time working in retail. I had a breakthrough when Chrisette Michelle found me and as soon as I graduated I flew out to LA to be mentored for a year by Grammy Award Winning Singer Chrisette Michele. I released my debut single called “Bradford Baddie” which is available on most music outlets. I also featured in the documentary “Being – Chrisette Michele” on Centric TV/ BET. This opportunity made me believe I could achieve my dreams.
In 2017, I went to New York to record more music. I also toured with a Gospel Choir called “Celebration Gospel Choir” with choir director Colin Williams who took me under his wing. I had the time of my life in New York, but I still felt like I needed to find myself and explore where my passion truly was. I decided to move to London where I train every day at Studio 68 London. I am constantly auditioning and every day I am training and becoming stronger at my craft. I have only been in London for six months and I love it because I am learning so much and meeting other amazing creatives.
Elishia: I was scouted in 2015, I started modelling for Cloud Nine Hair products and my shoot was for a global campaign which featured in Vogue Magazine. I also did my first London Fashion Week Catwalk in 2016 for Jasper Garvida. I recently walked Africa Fashion Week London and it was a great experience. In 2018, I landed a contract with JD as a model ambassador.
Elishia: Funny enough I grew up quite insecure, I was always the tallest in the class, I wore glasses and hated my teeth. I have a Keloid scar on my leg which I have been insecure about all my life. At Africa Fashion Week London, I saw professional models with keloid scarring just like mine and this freed me. I felt emotional for ever thinking that my scars did not make me beautiful. It was such a relief to me.
I used to wear a lot of weaves, I hated my afro hair. One day I just had enough, and I wanted to challenge myself to feel beautiful in my own skin. So I decided to go natural. Who knew I would end up becoming a professional hair model? I am so grateful to God for these opportunities. I hated that I was masking a gift that God gave to me.
Vicky: What makes you stand out as a model?
Elishia: People are drawn to realness; your positive energy can easily be picked up and this makes you approachable. From my experience, being tall is good. I am 6ft, also people are always intrigued by my accent.
Vicky: How do you train?
Elishia: I find it very easy to pick things up because of my dance background. One thing to do is to be quiet and observe models at catwalks. I am looking at the professionals, this is what I do in the dance industry. I am still new to the modelling industry and I have been thrown into the deep end which is great.
Vicky: How do you balance your creative jobs?
Elishia: I would say, take each day as it comes. Being organised is very important and manage and promise your time. Be intelligent about the jobs you pick. I am a workaholic but one thing that shook me was the passing of my sister. I realised that no one can afford to waste a day, I make sure every day, no matter how small it is, I do something to get me closer to my dreams.
Vicky: Who is your support system?
Elishia: My family, they keep me grounded and support me 100%. My uncle really supported me through my move to London. One of my role models is my grandmother who inspires me and encourages me no matter what the situation. My faith also keeps me grounded, as a Christian, I rely on God for strength and elevation. The industry can be dark, but I am letting God just lead the way.
Vicky: What are your hopes for the future?
Elishia: I am grateful for this platform that I am able to inspire other people. I live walking by faith and not by sight, this is how I live my life. I cannot tell you specifics, but I would say down the line I would like to start a ministry through art and dance. I would say to be fully dependant on my creative jobs.
Vicky: What advice do you have for young creatives?
Elishia: Do not rely on other people to get you places. You will find yourself waiting around. You need to step up and create your own platform. Do not be afraid to work part-time to sustain your full-time dreams, humble yourself, work hard and save along the way. A lot of industry people fear this because they have done big jobs and are well known, you need to be able to sustain yourself till your next job.
Connect with Elishia by clicking the links below:
Music: Bradford Baddie