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Conversations with Kristel Dela Rosa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristel Dela Rosa.

Hi Kristel, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a first-generation kid who grew up in a nine person, high-volume Filipino household in San Diego. So you can imagine how crazy my upbringing was! I was a really active kid in my household but really shy and timid in school. I started dancing since I was three years old and loved it. Once I got to elementary school, my 3rd-grade teacher, Mrs. Sherwood, told my mom that I belong at a performing arts school. Once I applied and got into the school, I remember crying. Not tears of happiness but tears of fear! I didn’t want to start at a new school where I didn’t know anybody! Cut to a year into the new school and I was an unstoppable nine years old who you couldn’t get to stop moving and grooving. My best friend, Christina, played a big part of me coming out of my shell. If I never met her at performing arts school, I would be a completely different person. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved to LA from San Diego to attend Cal State Northridge. I moved to LA with the intention of being a broadcast journalism major in order to pursue that career. Yeah, thaaaat didn’t happen.

Once I started taking those classes, I knew it wasn’t for me. I really tried to stick with it for the sake of making my family happy, but my heart wasn’t into attending college anymore. Because of all that built-up stress, I ended up gaining an unhealthy weight and at my heaviest almost 200 lbs. I’m 5’2 and I was a dancer my entire life so this was a really big change for me. I knew something needed to shift so I joined the school hip hop team. I loved it so much and it opened professional dance opportunities for me in LA. As I was getting more involved with the hip hop team, I started taking group fitness classes and experienced my biggest weight loss transformation. I actually dropped out of school to pursue dance and fitness full-time. In 2016, I ended up getting signed to a dance agency and got my certification to teach group fitness classes. I booked my first awards show with iHeart Radio with Zayn Malik and two national commercials with IBM and Home Advisor. I grew more passionate about teaching fitness classes than becoming a dancer, so I really immersed myself in the fitness industry.

In 2018, I started teaching at Mark Wahlberg’s F45 Fitness Studios in the valley. While working there, I was cast in a sports competition TV show on FOX called “Ultimate Tag” and surprisingly won my episode. I say “surprisingly” because the show was a parkour competition and I knew absolutely nothing about parkour! Fast forward to after filming the show, I got offered what I thought was my dream job as a group fitness instructor at Equinox in West Hollywood. While working at Equinox, I decided that it was time to try out comedy and improv. I joined improv classes at UCB Sunset and completely fell in love. I knew that comedy is my new career path and dream job! After completing the class, I was supposed to have an improv show, but the city went into lockdown as the pandemic hit. The pandemic didn’t stop my love and passion for comedy, so during quarantine I trained in stand-up comedy with Judith Shelton & Lisa Sunstedt, creator and owner of “Pretty, Funny Women”. As a result, I performed, hosted and produced stand-up comedy shows virtually. I am currently still performing stand-up, taking improv at The Groundlings and taking acting classes all via Zoom.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
HA! Absolutely not! My fitness journey alone was a difficult one. My weight loss transformation was a lot of trial and error. I learned through that process and that I didn’t just want to just loose weight, it was a lifestyle change that required to make consistent decisions. I constantly had to remind myself that every little change counts and to be proud of the little wins. Most importantly, I knew if I didn’t love my body in the present moment, how was I supposed to love it later? I went through many different fitness teaching jobs before I started teaching at Equinox and finally got paid the rate I knew I deserved. In the dance world, I was insecure about my talent event though I danced my whole life. There was so much pressure from social media to perform and look a certain way and a stigma to take whatever opportunity comes. I had dance jobs that were unfortunately very stressful and looking back were not a healthy environment. Through that experience, I told myself I don’t need to take a gig just to take a gig no matter how good the pay is. If it causes me to feel unsafe it’s not worth my unhappiness. Now, with stand-up, it’s a constant struggle as I’m still very new to the world. I go to virtual open mics and there are times when I get no laughs. I think to myself, did Zoom just freeze or did my joke suck?! I’m also still in the process of truly finding my point of view as a female comic, and that comes with practice and sometimes failing at open mics. I believe inviting failure into your life is good because it eventually builds into greatness!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My best friend likes to call me a funny fitness personality and I think it’s the best way to describe my career. When I teach group fitness, I keep it real and empathize with my clients. I’m known for bringing humor into my classes and some insight because I’ve been in their shoes as a student. I’m most proud of my weight loss experience because I bring that into my classes and to my clients. And that experience goes beyond a healthy journey. I apply that discipline into my comedy career as well. When I get on the mic, I am more of a storyteller who utilizes physical comedy as well as impersonating my Filipino mom! What sets me aside from other comics is I bring my truth into what is happening in the world. I craft my jokes so that I am the only one who can say them. When writing my material, I really get vulnerable with my life so that the audience gets to know me a little more once they’ve seen my set.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I host open mics virtually with Pretty Funny Women LA and with Bits & Pieces Comedy. I love working with other aspiring comics (especially during this time) because virtual opens mics and shows can be hard to navigate. Hopefully, soon when it is much safer in LA, I’ll be back to teaching group fitness classes and performing stand-up comedy and improv live! So stay tuned!

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Image Credits:

Christian Sampson

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