Today we’d like to introduce you to JFer.
JFer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In West Philadelphia, born and raised … just kidding. I wanted to make sure you all were engaged. I just dated myself with a Fresh Prince reference.
I am a Dominican, Bronx born, Jesus loving poet, writer and educator who moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago to see what Hollywood had to offer in terms of my acting pursuits. Since I was twelve years old, all I wanted to do was act in Film & TV. While at Lehman College (shout out to the drama squad), I garnered a well-rounded education while also being a part of over fifteen stage productions as an actor, director, stagehand, lighting tech – you name it. I was certain that acting was my lane and therefore I didn’t need a Plan B.
Fast forward to my big leap and cross country move to Los Angeles, I hit the ground running. One of my best friends, an award-winning actor, Jose, was already in LA and he showed me the ropes but there was still a lot that I had to figure out on my own. Welcome to adulting! Four years after pounding the pavement with auditions, meeting casting directors, working on my craft, paying expensive rent in LA, having a little too much fun with the Hollywood nightlife and booking independent films, I had the most amazing spiritual awakening! My life hasn’t been the same since!
I recently graduated with a Master in Practical Theology and realized that my purpose was bigger than acting – it’s to educate, inspire, uplift and awaken the next generation of leaders. That’s what led me to sharing my story via a spoken word EP, “Step + Repeat” available on all platforms (iTunes, Spotify, tidal) Give it a listen after you’re done reading this of course. I launched a writing/poetry workshop called #WritetoHeal which I am bringing to public schools, the community, and the local church.
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?
Los Angeles has shown me what I’m made of – grit. Of course, the NY’er in me couldn’t quit – I had to keep going, keep pushing. The struggles come in waves – some are emotional; I’m missing a nephew’s birthday or his formative years; missing some home cooked Dominican sancocho or arepa (LA, get on that! Dominicans are out here) and other times the lack of stability in your career as an artist puts you in a very vulnerable place, financially. With all of these struggles, you begin to question who you are, as if your identity were tied up to what you do. You consider throwing in the towel, you get mad at the Hollywood formula of promoting looks over talent – I had my bitter moments! Haha Struggles are a test of faith and it helps answer the question, how bad do you want it? I’m here on purpose, for a purpose, I must keep pushing forward.
JFer – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a poet, writer and an educator and through the arts, there is much learning to be had. My spoken word EP, Step + Repeat, is one example. The title is a play on words about the ‘posing’ and facade we sometimes see on the red carpet but also it’s a charge for all of us – to stop being so robotic and display our humanity, let’s be real. In my EP, that’s what I aim to do over melodic percussion and my words – keep it real and share my story in a raw way that’s never been heard before. If we continue downplaying our journeys, people will continue to feel isolated and that they’re the only one feeling those range of emotions. Our stories unite us. My story is one of being lost, not knowing who I was, looking for love and validation in the wrong places, someone without a mentor and then eventually coming to her senses and finding God. That was all quite a trip! My poetry workshops draw out repressed emotions all the while creating a beautiful piece of art; there’s healing in sharing your story in front of others, there is healing in writing down what you’re feeling, there’s healing in knowing there is a space to release. You #WritetoHeal, that’s what sets me apart.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’ll share two moments – sharing a spoken word piece titled “Free” in the middle of the red light district in Bangkok, Thailand, where we know there are women + men enslaved and trafficked. It was powerful. It was as if I was releasing freedom into the atmosphere and letting them know, they too could be free.
Also, releasing my spoken word EP was a big deal for me because it was such a personal project. Seeing all of my friends and loved ones show up to support me at the release/listening party was AMAZING! Moreover, hearing the positive feedback from everyone who listens to it is what makes me the proudest. It’s one thing to have a goal in mind, it’s quite another to be able to say, mission accomplished. My hope is that it will continue to impact the lives of women, young girls and men too – it’s a US thing.
- Step + Repeat EP is available for $4.95
- Website: https://jfer.squarespace.com/
- Instagram: @rubia115
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JFer115
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jen_fernandez
- Other: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/step-repeat-ep/1396976461
Khwaja P. Hadi