Today we’d like to introduce you to Carmen Cudjoe.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am a Trini gyal from Orlando, FL; I started dancing in my mother’s dance studio NuLook School of Performing Arts at age 3. I was fortunate to travel extensively at an early age competing and training in Ballet, Jazz, HipHop, Contemporary, Horton, African and Theater.
After graduating from Dr. Phillips High School, I was quickly New York bound to attend The be Professional Program at Broadway Dance Center. At age 19, I moved to LA to make my dreams become a reality. I will say the older I get, the more grateful and appreciative I am towards everything I have/ have accomplished in life. There were definitely some low moments where I almost had to live out of my car, sleep on the floor, and would have maybe $2 to my name with me having to figure out how to eat, get gas, pay bills, and of course personal endeavors that would come along the way to make matters feel worst. But to me, without all of the obstacles, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today. I have been blessed to dance for Artist such as Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini, Wale, Too $hort, KC veggies, City Girls, MC Lyte, Kamaiyah, Janet Jackson, and more to come. I’m also on season 5 of the tv series Lip Sync Battle, and I got perform on big stages like Coachella, Billboard awards, and BET awards. When I’m not chasing after my dreams, I’m still living in one. A lot of people think I should have gone to college and get a degree just Incase my plan A doesn’t work out, but to me, that’s just setting yourself up for failure. I moved to LA young, no job, a little bit of money, knowing one person, and honestly with no clue of what I was going to do. To now teaching at 3 different dance studios and winning grand champions at competitions, having great friends and people I call family, becoming the manager of the WNBA dance team and being able to choreograph and perform, performing and meeting celebrities, and I’m in a band with one of the original Commodores where I travel and perform all over. I’ve accomplished goals that I’ve been dreaming for myself my whole life and to be in those actual moments are so unreal to me. I have big dreams for myself and I am not letting a little struggle, self-doubt, and discouragement get in the way of that. I have my self doubting moments where I think I’m just wasting my time, what am I doing, this is never going to happen, I’m too dark, I’m to fat, I’m not good enough, and sometimes I let the people that tell me I can’t get in my head, or I let social media make me feel like I’m not good enough or too late. I know I have to be my own motivation; you know the saying, “ you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you”… well, I didn’t realize it was true until I got older. Once I started focusing on myself and giving myself the attention I needed is when doors started opening up for me, one of the biggest self-doubts I had with myself was my physical appearance, but now I embrace it by calling myself CarmenThabody! I’m not just Thabody because I have a big booty, I’m Thabody because I love myself and all that comes with it. I aspire to be a great role model for kids, an inspiration to many, and most importantly, I want to make my family proud! Some people would doubt me and say you can’t make a career out of dance but this is why I stay in my lane, continue to be positive, continue to be kind to others, continue to be grateful, and continue to be the best me I can possibly be. I see the unfolding of my dreams coming true and I am ecstatic to see what’s next to come.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road getting to where I am today. I’ve had to share a two-bedroom apartment with six other girls and sleep on a floor because I wasn’t making enough money to pay a full rent yet. To then sleeping on the floor for another year because my two best friends wanted there own room and three days to moving out, the person I was supposed to split a room/ rent dropped out last min causing us to hurry up and find a place to live. So I made a sacrifice to sleep in the living room and still split the rent three ways so they can have a room and I can have a roof over my head and a place to sleep. I’ve definitely had times where money has been an issue and things like gas, bills, and living come into play and I would only have $2-$5 and would have to figure it out! I’ve learned how to cook ramen at least ten different ways. I’ve also had personal struggles like getting my feels hurt by someone, losing friends, dealing with family drama and also trying to be strong and act like all is well is a huge struggle that I deal with all the time. Everyone has there own struggles and problems that we have to deal with so I don’t like putting mine on other people. I do try my hardest to make you smile and figure out how to get through it. I always have to tell myself that everything is going to be okay, it soon shall past, and this will only make you stronger!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into your story. Tell us more about the business.
Well, my name is CarmenThabody and I am a dancer/ choreographer. I grew up dancing in my moms dance studio so of course I teach dance to kids every day and I love it. But of course, I love dancing! I can do any style from ballet, jazz, contemporary, and I can fake some good tap, but my favorite is hip hop. To be completely honest, my favorite thing to do is perform! I love the adrenaline rush, the nerves before going on stage, hearing people call your name, the crowd, the loud music, just all of it. I love sharing my energy with others, whether you like me or not. I love being on set and seeing all the theatre work it takes to put an award show on tv, or a tv show, or music video and then when it comes out I can appreciate it more because I got to be apart of the process. As a kid, I’ve always dreamed of being on tv in music videos dancing, award shows, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, movies, Macy thanksgiving day parade, and more. I am now 24 and I can say I’ve definitely made a lot of my dreams come true and I know there is more to come. I have been blessed to dance for Artist such as Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini, Wale, Too $hort, KC veggies, City Girls, MC Lyte, Kamaiyah, Janet Jackson. I’m also on season 5 of the tv series Lip Sync Battle, and I got perform on big stages like Coachella, Billboard awards, and BET awards. As much as I love dancing, I love choreographing. I love being creative, creating formations and patterns, and just seeing my vision come to life on other bodies is incredible to me. I aspire to teach at dance conventions, travel the world teaching, and maybe even creative directing on big projects would be a blessing.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see my self driving a nice car, having my own place, living my best and happy life. I see my self becoming the director for the LA Sparks Crew, Going on huge tours with big name artist, Creative directing for music videos/ Award shows, and owning small business like a clothing line, dance studio/ dance convention. I know that sounds like a lot but to me, it can happen as long as I keep hustling. It’s not a sprint for me it’s absolutely a marathon and I’m willing and able to get to where I want to be as long as I keep faith and keep going.
- Email: For bookings: Carmen.email@example.com
- Instagram: @chookielaurel
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