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Meet Breana Watkins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Breana Watkins aka Brie Watts.

Breana, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I was 22, I graduated from the illustrious Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and a few months later I started working for Boeing on the Space Launch System as a systems safety engineer. I was grateful for the opportunity to work as a rocket scientist in my hometown, the Rocket City (Huntsville, Alabama), and I was even more grateful for the salary that came with it. But at the same time, I was extremely unhappy because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My parents wanted me to major in engineering, but growing up I always wanted to be a doctor.

My younger sister has autism, which for her developed from Tuberous Sclerosis. It’s a rather rare genetic disorder, and there’s no cure for it. As a kid, I wanted to be the doctor who found her cure. And I initially quit Boeing so I could focus on getting into medical school. But the MCAT alone was super hard for me to get a decent score even after I’d taken it multiple times. And as an adult, I wasn’t sure if my childhood dreams were truly what I wanted for my future.

To best serve my sister, my family, and myself, I need to do something that makes my soul feel alive. Dancing has always done that for me, and I wanted to pursue it professionally. I moved to Los Angeles after being accepted into the Debbie Reynolds Scholarship Program, and since then I’ve been blessed to learn from the industry’s top choreographers, dance for Bebe Rexha, Keke Palmer, and other artists, and do what I love to do every day!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I was definitely on the struggle bus for a while and often felt I would stay on it for a while longer. Not having an engineer’s income anymore was one of my biggest setbacks. I worked multiple part-time jobs throughout the years to stay flexible with auditioning and taking classes. But most of the time I still needed financial help from my mom and my family.

I had to move back home for almost two years when I got kicked out of my LA apartment because I couldn’t afford rent. I felt so embarrassed and heartbroken because I thought I failed at achieving my dream. I didn’t have a solid plan the first time I moved to LA. I was so eager to finally be able to choose my path in life that I didn’t completely consider the risks that come with this career.

But while I was back in Alabama, I spent so much time setting specific personal and career goals and planning out my move back to Los Angeles step by step. I would also travel to Nashville or Atlanta for any classes or auditions I could attend. I wanted to make sure I came back to LA a better dancer, a better entrepreneur, and a better person than when I left.

Please tell us about your work.
During my LA hiatus, I got certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I became more interested in fitness when I competed in pageants. I won Miss Tuskegee University in my senior year of college, and then I competed in the Miss Alabama Pageant through the Miss America Organization. I also worked at the front desk at a few gyms that offered group training classes, and I wanted to be an instructor myself.

I currently teach classes at Pulse Fitness Studio in Sherman Oaks! My classes are a fun mix of cardio and strength training. I teach Saturdays at 8:45 AM, Sundays at 10:15 AM, and Mondays at 6:30 PM.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I’m thankful to have so many good memories from childhood, and of course, some of my favorites involved dance. I loved performing in dance recitals for my family and at the games on the dance team for my school. A few bad memories do come up from the dance team because I was bullied and always placed in the back of the formations, and I hated I couldn’t fully enjoy dancing because of that.

But I carry those lessons I learned from that experience throughout my life. I embrace my uniqueness and the uniqueness of other people instead of being dismissive of them. Especially in dance, it’s so beautiful and interesting to see the bold choices and nuances other dancers make in their movement. I’m so glad I can express myself through this lovely art form, and I am blessed to be able to share this gift with the world!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jimmy Martinez and Emjay Mendez

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