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Meet Geena Lorenzo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Geena Lorenzo.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hi, my name is Geena. I’m a performing artist, health coach, yoga teacher, personal assistant, and writer. Here’s my story.

I was born in Monterey, California, but grew up until the age of 12 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where my dad was stationed in the military. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an actor. My mom took me to see Broadway tours at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. I remember the moment I was watching a production of “Annie Get Your Gun” and had the existential realization that I could be the one up on that stage, mesmerizing a giant room of people. It was nothing short of real-life magic. Theatre played a large role in my childhood and adolescence and some of my earliest memories are of being onstage.

I moved to Northern California when I was 12 for middle school and high school following my parents’ divorce. I continued to act in regional/community theatre and joined the high school cheer team. When I was 15, I was nominated as the only child in the adult category of best supporting actor at the Arty Awards for my role as Mayella Ewell in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I continued my thespian studies and went on to graduate from Cal State Fullerton with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. For me, theatre and dance always went hand in hand under the umbrella that is my love of performance. As soon as I got to college, I added ballet classes to my already full schedule. After performing ensemble in a production of “Cats” my senior year in high school, I couldn’t get enough of it. I remember every night, I’d watch the white cat do her ballet solo from backstage, and dreamt of moving so meticulously and gracefully myself.

When I was 19, I was approached by a model scout for Elite, one of the nation’s top high-fashion modeling agencies. I was told I had talent but that I would have to lose weight. I have always been naturally thin, and this set me off on an unhealthy mission to shrink my waist; despite everything I tried, I had trouble getting down to their “standard” size and eventually gave up the agency route. I pursued modeling on my own anyway and went on to book lots of work in fashion shows, red carpet events, car shows, hair modeling, and independent brand campaigns, even getting to travel for it sometimes.

Right after college I started out working with independently-run entertainment companies in LA, performing as a dancer/model at posh parties in the hills, exclusive nightclubs, lavish Morroccan themed weddings and celebrity birthdays. In 2015 I auditioned and was accepted onto the Ultra Angels dance team for Ultra Music Festival Miami. This would change my life forever, and was one of the best experiences of my life. Though I didn’t have as much dance training as most of the other girls (most of whom had been training and performing their whole lives), I was accepted into this group of bad-ass, sexy, confident women who captivated international audiences. The feeling of being up there on stage overlooking a sea of thousands, connecting with the DJ and the beat of the song to tell a story with my body; the feeling of synergy between the crowd, the artist, and the music—there’s truly nothing like it. I wish I could bottle up that feeling and give it to everyone in the world.

So, in 2015 I was flown out to Miami and put up in a mansion for a week, being paid to vacation and do what I love; perform. I quickly realized I wanted more of this life. Having performed at Ultra, the world’s biggest music festival, the floodgates of opportunity opened up to me in the dance world. Shortly after returning to LA, a friend who worked in costuming that I had known though past gigs reached out to me saying that MsEasy (director of entertainment at Insomniac Events) needed more performers for EDC Las Vegas. She put in a good word and I was soon welcomed to a giant family of cirque artists, go-go dancers, ballerinas, showgirls, burlesque dancers, character performers—many of whom did this full-time! My eyes were opened to the wonderful, whimsical world of live performance beyond just that of classical theatre. Being an Insomniac performer for the last 5 years has helped me grow as an artist and human being in ways that I could never have imagined. It has expanded my horizons, figuratively and literally, by allowing me to travel and perform internationally.

I then signed with a management company that was getting me lots of auditions, and over the next couple of years I added many commercial credits on to my resume. One of my favorites involved getting to portray the character of “Bruxa”, a creepy swamp vampire, from the video game “The Witcher”. For the next few years, I continued building my acting and performance repertoire. I continued training by taking acting and dance classes in town, even getting more musical theatre under my belt by performing in my first “triple threat” lead role, acting, dancing, and singing in a production of “The Giving Tree” musical adaptation. Compared to the pool of actors in LA, the dance community is actually fairly small, which I love, because it’s allowed me to work with some of the same people over and over again, and build life-long friendships in the process.

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about dance is because it forces you to be more in-touch and in-tune with your body. This is also true of vinyasa, the movement practice that branches from the ancient Vedic science that is yoga. I was introduced to yoga in college, where taking “Voice and Movement” classes was mandatory for theatre majors. In these classes we learned yoga, meditation, and breath work techniques, and we also learned about chakras, or energy centers of the body. I loved this so much I later went on to get my 200hr teaching certification from YogaWorks, and then began teaching at the Art of Living Studio in downtown LA; this studio is one of many world-wide branches of the Art of Living Foundation, founded by world-renown yoga and meditation teacher, Sri Ravi Shankar. I taught there for 2 years before COVID hit, and I miss it dearly!

Since studios have been shut down, I’ve been doing Instagram/YouTube live classes, as well as taking on private clients via Zoom. I’ve been working with one older client in particular over the past few months, and the journey has been so rewarding. When we first began our sessions, she was so stiff she could barely bend over or reach her arms above shoulder height. Now, she is almost ready to move off of the assisted chair and take on her body weight with the mat. In the beginning of our sessions, I like to take some time to do a little Q and A. check-in I ask her some gentle questions about her life, and simply sit there listening and holding space. Listening is so powerful. The answers we need are always right there on the surface, and sometimes it just takes the right question to bring them out. This experience is what got me interested in health coaching with IIN, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition; I wanted to be able to advise my clients in more areas than just yoga to include nutritional and lifestyle balance. I love helping people curate whole-body health. In order to be truly healthy, we must also be satiated in the areas of career, relationships, finances, spirituality and exercise/physical activity; no amount of green juice will keep you feeling good if you are living a stress-filled life!

When I moved to LA, I worked my way up to a serving position and began waiting tables to pay the rent, which eventually led to bartending. I found myself in a sea of wanna be-actors who, like myself, felt that we had no other choice but to work at these restaurants until we were “discovered” by a big Hollywood so-and-so or booked that recurring role in a sit-com. That idea didn’t sit right; it became just another motivation for me to pursue dance and yoga professionally. I saw the opportunity to free myself from the narrative and lifestyle so many others tried to impress upon me. I wanted to make a living on my terms, doing work that was fulfilling, while continuing to reach higher in my career as an actor. About 6 months before Covid rocked the world, I decided I had had it: I wasn’t going to work in the service industry anymore. I’d been picking up more and more dance gigs through working with a variety of entertainment companies, as well as teaching more yoga classes at the studio, and I was ready to delve into the world of being a full-time freelancer.

In October of 2019, I took the leap of courage to quit my “survival” job. I promised myself that from then on, I would only be paid to do things that I loved, and I would only provide services that help others on a holistic level. Literally the day after I removed myself from that environment, I booked a role in a privately funded Halloween theatrical production that both paid my rent for the following month and whose ticket sales went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I began booking freelance gigs like crazy and for 6 months I got to live out my dream of being a full-time freelance artist. It was a struggle at first, but I grew more in that time I think than in some previous years combined. The fact that I took that leap means everything. For obvious reasons, the lockdown has created some obstacles in this line of work. On the bright side, it’s made me appreciate live performance that much more. I can’t describe how much I miss it. Taking a break can be good, but I’m eager to get back onstage. I can’t wait for theaters and music venues to re-open. I want to return to my theatrical roots, as I truly believe in the power of this art form to help transform and transmute societal issues in a profound way.

I sought out the opportunity to dip my toes into the business side of entertainment when I began doing assistant work for a woman who runs her own entertainment company and teaches classes I performed with, Flaunt Entertainment. I started out doing work in exchange for free dance classes, and was then hired on as her assistant Despite the fact that most live entertainment is on hold until further notice, we’ve been busy finding creative new ways to keep the company afloat despite quarantine, including implementing our live-streaming branch and creating online dance classes. I’m learning a lot about what it takes to run a business, including improving my administrative, marketing, and sales skills. It’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding, and I have aspirations of one day using what I’ve learned to start my own entertainment company that is somehow involved in charity work to help bring the arts to underserved areas.

Something I’ve been exploring in quarantine (besides working on my left-handed guitar skills), is creating comedic sketches with my roommate. We bought some funky wigs recently and have been experimenting with characters and sketch comedy that we improvise and put on YouTube/social media, just for fun. It’s a great way to stay creative while bringing some much-needed comic relief to these times. Last week I also recently shot a music video in San Diego, one of the first productions I’ve encountered where we were legally able to shoot under pandemic guidelines. I was slated to be the lead in a comedic series—the biggest role I’ve ever booked—but due to COVID we’ve had to keep postponing production. I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into this role for almost 6 months now, it is potentially one of the biggest moves of my acting career to date, and I pray that we are able to start filming soon.

If you can’t tell, writing is one of my favorite activities. Before I even knew the alphabet, I was writing; I would make up my own language and scribble heated notes on my walls of what I really thought about everything. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t write. In elementary school I won local poetry competitions, and not too long ago I had my first works published as an adult in the U.K.-based journal Forge and Flint. I don’t know how to describe it, but I know in my bones that writing is going to be a big part of my future. Just like I knew when I was still growing up in North Carolina that someday I’d live in LA. My dream is to ultimately publish books, both fiction and nonfiction, some of which are adapted to screenplay and produced in film. I find movies based on novels to be the some of the most interesting to watch, and I would love to act in them as well. Currently, you can view some of my writings (poetry, articles, short stories) on Medium.com under my user @GL_Brown.

Although my journey has by no means been the most traditional, I’ve learned to build upon everything good in my life. There is one thing that acting, dance, movement, art, writing, etc. have in common…they’re all about, simply, connection. Connecting with others is the one thing that human beings crave the most; it is in our DNA. When we lose it, that is when anxiety is triggered, we misbehave, and even start acting self-destructive. This has been a key lesson for me: When you finally find the “why” behind what you are doing, everything changes; your creativity and your confidence soars as your sense of purpose becomes clear. You create new neural connections in the brain that lead to a powerful sense of self-awareness. When you put your “why” in the forefront of your mind, failure becomes impossible. My “why” is to inspire as many people I can to step into the healthiest version of themselves: by curating joy, loving their bodies, cultivating connections, and exploring the healing power of self-expression.

Has it been a smooth road?
Some of my biggest challenges haven’t been from the exterior world, but stemming from my personal/family life. I’ve been very fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had, and I also know that when you don’t have a solid foundation to stand upon, opportunities can go unnoticed. You really do have to love yourself enough to take full responsibility for your inner state. For example, when I find myself feeling jealous of people with big families, I remember to be grateful for the one I’ve been given, no matter how small or “broken” we may seem at times. Without going into too many details, my family has seen a lot of pain, addiction, and mental illness.

I’ve struggled with depression/anxiety and was diagnosed as a child—however, I have my reservations about this. I think it is a slippery slope in over-diagnosing medication, in that it can sometimes be a way to put a band-aid over the real problems. Something most people don’t know about me besides my close friends, is that ever since I can remember I’ve suffered from an OCD/anxiety related disorder called Trichotillomania, which involves pulling out my eyelashes and body hair. To those who don’t understand this disorder, no it doesn’t hurt to those affected by it, rather it is similar to cutting/self-harm in terms of the physical sensation of pressure and release. Like cutting, it evokes feelings of shame and is sometimes a sign that someone is overwhelmed and not sure how to seek help. In attempt to treat this, I was put on Zoloft at 8 years old, and I honestly worry about the effects of this early introduction to SSRI’s—on mine or any adolescent’s psycho-emotional development. For me, medication never made me stop hair pulling. It has gotten a lot better with age, though occasionally I have flare-ups when I am not taking proper care of myself. I’ve become a lot gentler on myself for this, and becoming more outspoken about it really helps.

I have been off of medication for over 10 years now, and have found there are so many therapeutic things you can do for yourself to support a healthy brain. Besides hiring a therapist, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, exercise, etc. are all tools that everyone should have knowledge of and access to. Paying attention to the balance of flora in the gut microbiome is also essential for proper production of happiness hormones. In my experience and with the growing body of research around this connection between gut health and mental health, I recommend everyone consider adding probiotics to their diet—found in fermented foods like kimchee, kraut, yogurt, kefir and tempeh, but delayed-release pill forms are also helpful. I always encourage people to do their own research first when considering going on anti-depressants to find what healing modalities work best for them; whether they be homeopathic, allopathic, or both. I only hope that the use of SSRIs and advancements of modern medicine in treating depression don’t result in permanent, dead-end solutions (aka dependency). It’s my belief as well, that we need to erase the stigma around mental illness, and shift the conversations around it to ask ourselves questions like, “How can I shed more light on mental health? How can I make someone feel seen and loved today? How can we support our communities as we create our own personal definitions of health and happiness.”?

As a health coach and aspiring thought leader, I want to be honest and vulnerable in my struggles, in order to empower others with the knowledge that they are not alone in whatever it is they are dealing with, and that they, too, have the ability to create a vibrant, abundant, and joy-filled life. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of healing of sexual trauma/abuse, and the feelings of unworthiness that result. I think everyone struggles with surface-level insecurities that have to do with looks, but looking deeper, it’s imperative to know the value of what you bring to the table from your core, inner being. Meditation does this. It’s interesting that once you embark on a spiritual path, you slowly start to come into total self-accountability. You realize that you are the creator of your own reality, both the “good” and the “bad”, and that everyone else is merely a spectator—the person who holds the most influence on your life, at all times, is you. You start to find immeasurable value in stillness, in the sacred pause, in listening for the answers that are always there waiting to be revealed to you by your built-in GPS system—your intuition.

Another game-changer has been overcoming the shortage consciousness many of us were born into. I know that was a pervasive attitude in my family (especially after my parents’ divorce, being raised by a single mom): you have to work hard for money, and when you do there still won’t be enough of it. “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, and “we can’t afford that” were phrases I heard thrown around a lot. Moving to LA after college with no savings account and no credit, it felt like half the people here had a “leg up” in terms of coming from wealthy families, while the other half were these romanticized “starving artists”. I had a chip on my shoulder for a while. I felt I didn’t “fit in” with the general community of actor-artists in LA, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It felt like many of my peers were in it for the wrong reasons, (fame, fortune, proving something to themselves, etc. rather than because it is the one thing they have always been drawn to). Then there are those who err on the side of an unhealthy obsession with “making it”, and their mentality is that if you just keep “hustling”, if you just keep “grinding”, that someday, someone will notice all the hard work you’ve put in, throw up their hands, and say, “OK…ok…we’re ready for you now!”, hand you a golden ticket to happiness/“the good life”, and you’ll never worry about a thing again. This way of thinking is toxic because it puts our success, what we commonly equate with our worth, into another person’s hands, and makes us ignorant of our own unique gifts. Everything changed once I shifted my mindset around money. You must find the bigger “why” behind what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’re at risk of staying small and allowing people to label you and put you in a box. You are not an Amazon package!

Tell us more about your work.
I am in the business of feeling good! It is no secret anymore that fitness level and dietary habits have an impact on not only our physical but our mental and emotional health, which then has a ripple effect in all areas of our lives. I’m here to bring awareness to just how intrinsically tied the two really are to enjoying proper health and wellbeing (in the workplace, socially, emotionally, spiritually, financially). I’m one of many wellness practitioners bringing health and wellness education to the forefront of modern society to help heal the global health crisis and obesity epidemic (the #1 killer in America behind preventable diseases, even over smoking). Health coaches bridge the gap between doctors and patients; doctors often do not have the time or the training to advise their clients on how lifestyle and diet shifts can significantly increase their healing capacity, allowing prescription medications to be more effective. Health is an accumulative effect. Working with a health coach to make essential shifts over time can help prevent and potentially even reverse the growth of disease.

As an integrative health coach, I utilize my well-rounded education and training in nutrition, dietary theories, and lifestyle management, as well as my background in yoga and dance, to look at all areas in my clients’ life, helping them set and work toward achievable health goals that are unique to them as a bio-individual. No two persons are alike in terms of what works best for their body, but there are commonalities in behavioral choices that encourage optimal health in anyone. Sometimes a little push in the right direction—someone to hold our hand— is all we need to make those life-changing first steps. I am by no means “perfect”, and hope to impress upon my clients the value of progress over perfection.

As a yoga teacher, some of my favorite clients to work with are beginners. My strengths lie in teaching the physical aspects of yoga in a way that is thorough, safe, and easy to understand. By creating a solid foundation for them to build upon I help my students fully integrate yoga’s benefits on and off the mat. I focus a lot on breathing (pranayama), and help students get in the habit of connecting breath to movement, as breath is the most integral, core component of all yoga techniques. There is an old yogi quote that says “The quality of your breath is the quality of your life”. For example, sitting in stillness for a few minutes while breathing deeply and mindfully; this is a form of yoga that anyone can do during their day to instantly feel more alert, engaged, and in harmony with their surroundings. (This is also a happiness, productivity, and weight loss hack).

The performing arts company I work for, Flaunt Entertainment, is a female-owned and run talent agency and dance academy that specializes in providing the best Los Angeles talent (dancers, models, etc.) for special events, celebrations, nightlife venues, festivals and more. We also provide go-go dancing classes suitable for all levels in the Flaunt Gogo Academy training program. From professional dancers seeking to improve their on-stage presence, “bookability”, and audition technique, to the complete beginner looking for a fun, new way to stay in shape and feel more in touch with their bodies. We have just started holding small in-person classes again at our regular studio, 101 Dance Center in Studio City. We are currently enrolling for three new course times, (all under Covid-safe guidelines) and we will soon be releasing the full digital course available for purchase online! These classes are sexy and empowering, taught by seasoned industry professionals like the owner (my boss), Denise Poole. She’s a leading-edge entrepreneur, as well as an accomplished actress, and I’m proud to work under her. Working with and for authentically empowered women was also an intention I had when I decided to leave my job.

Additionally, Flaunt is actively casting for the live-streaming branch of our company, which we launched a few months ago via Bigo Live: the nation’s biggest live-streaming app. We’re thankful to have this opportunity to bring in more business while most public venues are shut down, and having the ability to provide work for fellow performers and others whose jobs have been affected by Covid is such a blessing! If you live in the U.S. or Canada and may be interested in the opportunity to work from home as a paid live streaming host, please feel free to message us on Instagram, @flauntgogo, or contact me directly.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I envision a revolution in health— where our medical system operates not around true “healthcare”; not just disease-management. Where holistic health is supported by a society that cares for each other. We have not been set up for success; most people don’t know that the U.S. is one of only 2 nations in the world that allows big pharmaceutical advertising in the media. We are constantly flooded with ads for medicine and fast food. However, the burgeoning health and wellness industry is valued, according to recent statistics, at upwards of $5 trillion and growing every year. I predict that in light of the pandemic, more and more people will begin to prioritizing their health, and caring more for their day-to-day wellbeing. Everyone you know has either tried yoga or at least knows about it; yoga has become one of the biggest trends in fitness over the last twenty years. I see it becoming not just a trend, but a lifestyle. It is already a widespread physical and mental health practice. I also hope yoga practitioners honor the history of yoga’s roots in India, and become familiar with the ancient yogic knowledge in the Vedas.

I would like to encourage everyone, regardless of their experience with yoga, to research breathwork techniques at this time. Especially during a pandemic with a virus that affects the lungs, there are simple breathing exercises everyone can be doing to protect their health (not to mention the cognitive benefits of this). Shockingly (she said sarcastically), the media fails to highlight the importance of boosting the immune system with nutrition and exercise technique. So, I try to share lots of tips and tricks on my Instagram, @geenalorenzo. The value of the vegan food industry has doubled over the past two years, which goes to show that people are moving away from inflammatory meat and processed foods, toward diets rich in vegetables and whole foods. I have personally been plant-based for almost 11 years now; vegetarian, pescatarian, and now vegan for the past 3+ years. I know that while this has worked well for me, there are some who may benefit from a diet that includes balanced amounts protein from animal sources, and that is ok. (Actually, I am playing with bringing eggs back into my diet at the moment, and now identify better with “plant-based” vs. strictly vegan). I know that with the growing education and availability of knowing where our food is coming from and how it is raised, consumers will naturally move toward the most “ethical”, eco-friendly, and nutritious option that is available. I am a firm believer in small, bio-dynamic farming; in order to have soil that is rich in healthy microbes (good bacteria), it is essential to have a farm that is polycultural vs. these mass, monoculture factory farms that are destroying the environment, are inhumane to animals, and produce food that is low in nutrients and high in chemicals. I encourage everyone to begin to get to know their local farmers and research their practices as we see a return to small farming.

I want to end this interview by bringing some awareness to the travesty that is child and human sex trafficking. This is a 100+ billion-dollar industry which the U.S. is the #1 contributor in world-wide. There are more people enslaved now over any time in history. Every 30 seconds a child is forced into sex trafficking, and even children as young as 6 months old have been found as victims. The average age is 14-16, and about 90% of victims are underage girls. Online solicitations that lead to capture have become exhorbitantly worse during quarantine. About 50,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year, mostly from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and the Phillippines, while at the same time our own children are going missing every day. (Estimated at about 460,000/year, more than any other country). We are still involved in modern day slavery and this has not been adequately covered by the media. Please take some time for the children and research ways you can get involved. If you’d like, text HELPTHEM to 51555 and check out Operation Underground Railroad, O.U.R. Rescue, one of the nation’s leading organizations helping to rescue children from slavery. This issue affects all backgrounds, genders, and races, but, disproportionately, minorities are the most vulnerable.

Pricing:

  • Private Yoga Lessons – 1hr -$75
  • Health Coaching Services – 1hr – $75
  • Combination private yoga instruction + Health coaching session – 2 hr – $150

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Artsy Bastards/Taylor Patterson
Peter Leal
Brett Richards
Steve Meier
Joe Hang
Farm Sanctuary

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