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Meet Makayla Sifuentes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Makayla Sifuentes.

Makayla, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
At the age of nine, my father took me to my first dance class, and this is when I fell in love with the passion for the performing arts. I was intrigued and interested in the art. My parents knew right away this was something that I was going to take seriously.

Both my parents did everything they could to support me and my dreams. Dance became very expensive with studio tuition, private lessons, competition enrollments, costumes, and makeup/hair accessories. I am very blessed and thankful to have a family that is willing to go above and beyond to support me. My father and mother worked numerous jobs and countless hours to provide me with the best mentoring and training to become a professional dancer and artist. My father worked three jobs and still did an outstanding job as a father. He motivated, inspired, informed me about nutrition, and became my personal trainer so I could be in the best physical shape as a dancer. My father pushed me to be the best that I could be in anything that I wanted in life. My mother worked 60 hours a week and also sold hair bows, blankets, tamales, and chocolate bars on the side to help pay for my dance fees and classes. I remember as a young child helping my mother sell hair bows, blankets, and chocolates during PeeWee Dance Drill Competitions and softball games. I did everything I could to help my mother sell and advertise for my dance training. I am grateful to have a mother that is willing to do anything possible to watch me succeed.

At the age of 15, I was accepted into the dance program for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. I studied all four years of high school there. During high school, I began to gain a huge interest in acting, singing, and modeling. I then started to take these three talents very seriously and took it upon myself to study each of them. I began researching and studying famous actors’ audition tapes, watching and listening to my friends train their vocals at school, and also learning how to walk on a runway. During my teenage years, I was able to walk in multiple fashion shows throughout Texas and also be an opening act for them as well with performing a dance solo to start the show off with. I was determined to put my all into everything.

When I was 16 years old, my father was informed that he had a heart condition at the age of 47. Both he and my mother kept this from me until I turned 18. They wanted me to maintain my focus and strong discipline throughout high school and for the condition to not  affect me during my senior dance showcase. My parents later spoke to me with the devastating news of my father once my senior showcase was over. I was concerned as a daughter and wanted to do anything I could to help my father. I wasn’t able to understand how this could happen to him. He was always smiling, laughing, telling stories, singing, and whistling everyday at home. I never would have thought that my father was fighting such a harmful condition. My father became my main motivation to succeed. Everything that I did was going to be for him and my mother. I wanted to show and prove to my parents that everything they had invested into me would pay off. I wanted to make them proud.

Towards the end of my senior year of high school, I was informed that I received a merit scholarship to California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. I took the scholarship and moved to California to pursue my career as an artist. During college, I worked four jobs to help pay for my college tuition. I worked numerous hours and also applied for leadership positions to lead my school. I was able to become my Class Representative for Dance, Orientation Leader and a Resident Assistant throughout my four years of college. I was a full-time student to CalArts with my major study being in dance but also took advantage of the acting and vocal classes that the institute provided for the students. I am thankful to have gained a huge amount of training in the arts and have been able to showcase my studies as well. At the age of 21, I signed with Icon Studios Dallas as my agency. Where I was now able to dig deeper into the entertainment industry! Later towards my senior year of college, I received a teaching opportunity through the CalArts program with Oakwood Secondary School located in North Hollywood. I was granted the position as a Hip Hop Dance Teacher. I am thankful to have worked with them for an entire school year. I then received another teaching opportunity later in my senior year with Oakwood Secondary School as a Technical Assistant in Acting Improv for their Community Youth Partnership program. Working with the students from Oakwood has driven me to become a stronger teacher, creator, choreographer, and visionary artist.

To conclude my four years of college, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance and a Minor in Science and Mathematics on May 15th, 2020. CalArts has taught me a great amount about the arts and has molded me into the leader I am today. My journey to become the artist I strive to be has just begun. I am extremely grateful to say that three days after my college graduation, I booked my first acting commercial with the restaurant On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina that is located in the United States and South Korea! I have many plans for 2020 and the years to come. I currently have a huge project in the works that is very special to me and that I hold dear to my heart. It is something that I have always been passionate for. I plan to continue investing into myself and striving for the best version of me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without my family, friends, and mentors.

I would like to thank the Booker T. Washington HSPVA Dance Faculty for preparing me for my college journey into California Institute of the Arts. Thank you to Kate Walker, Lily Cabatu Weiss, my high school mentor Estela Tejeda, Linda James, Michelle Zada Hall, Emily Hunter, Lisa Lagravinese Stoller, and Brian Devine. I would also like to thank the CalArts dance faculty for preparing me for my future as a striving artist. Thank you to Dimitri Chamblas, my college mentor Francesca Penzani, Nina Flagg, Bridgette Dunn-Korpela, Samuel Wentz, Julia Eichten, Julie Bour, Justin Cook, Glen Eddy, Holly Farmer, Rosanna Gamson, Charlie Hodges, Bonnie Homsey, Lila Lopez, Ariel Osterweis, J.C. Scheid, Robby Shaw, Spenser Theberge, and Cynthia Young. I would like to thank Becky Trejo Upshaw for training, guiding, and investing time into me since the age of nine. Lastly, thank you to Dean, my older brother, for being my number one supporter and encouraging me throughout the years. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Has it been a smooth road?
The challenges and obstacles I have faced have been difficult. I am thankful to have a loving and supportive family. Without them these obstacles would have taken years to overcome. I will never give up on myself and the talents that I hold. Investing, training, and sharing is something that will always be a motto of mine. I can be anything I want to be.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a professional performing artist and model. I specialize in dancing, modeling, acting, and singing. I am known for my passion in the art of dance and modeling. I began my career focused on the two and built myself up as an artist. My love for the arts began with dance. Dance taught me discipline, structure, focus, and showed me how it felt to hold a passion for something. Through dance, I was able to discover other artistic elements about myself. I began experimenting with the arts and discovered many interests. This led me into modeling, acting, and singing. I loved performing in front of an audience and enjoyed entertaining others. I soon gained a thrill for the camera. This opened the doors to many opportunities for me in the future for appearances and performances.

I am most proud of my work ethic and determination. Once I have my mindset on something, I do everything in my power to succeed at it. I avoid distractions and surround myself around inspiring and uplifting people. When the hard work pays off it’s the best feeling, and it only drives my hunger for success even more! I try my best to be the most encouraging, inspiring, motivating, and loving person to my family, friends, and peers. My heart is huge and it’s something that always helps guide me through life. The amount of care and love I have for people is unbelievable. I want to see my family, friends, and peers succeed in anything they put their time into, and I want to be there congratulating and cheering them on! I continuously show my support and will never stop. Love is thriving and supporting one another will always be a grateful feeling!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the environment and going out to LA to visit museums, watch live art shows, and performances. Viewing the work of other artists inspires me with my craft and pushes me to explore other art forms. I truly do appreciate every form of art.

The traffic is probably the least part I like. It’s pretty hectic so I always have to leave 1-2 hours early for anything. I’m always on a schedule.

Contact Info:

Image Credit: Lozen Haozous

Image Credit: Lozen Haozous

Image Credit: Lozen Haozous

Image Credit: Lozen Haozous

Image Credit: Jazmyn Ray-Maynard

Image Credit: Marcus Perryman

Image Credit: Marcus Perryman

Image Credit:
Marcus Perryman (main photo)

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