When Sheela Awe first acquired to Hollywood about 10 years in the past, it was a unique world. You would not go to bop courses to snag a spot within the entrance line so you possibly can movie it on your YouTube channel or Tiktok; you’d go simply “to be taught, to expertise, to bop,” she says. Although Awe initially moved from Southeast Asia to the US to pursue an expert dance profession, her path has taken an analogous flip to the trade as a complete — that’s, it is gone digital. She’s developed from hopeful dancer to multi-faceted entertainer, host, and content material creator who makes use of motion as simply one of many methods she surprises, delights, and engages audiences on TikTok, Instagram, and, most just lately, as a brand new host for POPSUGAR’s Dance Fitsugar series on YouTube.
Because the occasions change, because the dance world modifications, you must shift with it, too.
Whereas it could actually really feel like there are infinite voices on the web nowadays, Awe is bringing a contemporary perspective and joyful humor to every thing she does. The end result? Contagious power and personable content material you simply cannot cease watching, whether or not she’s displaying off a dance mixture, entertaining you with antics on the streets of NYC, or educating Mandarin sayings throughout her #MandoMondaze sequence. We promise — all it takes is one video, and you will find your self hooked.
Following Her Goals Throughout the World
Awe’s mother and father are from Germany and Taiwan, and Awe was born in South Korea and raised throughout Southeast Asia. She began dancing as a younger child, amongst a ton of different artistic extracurriculars. “Within the family that I used to be rising up in, we have been all the time taking jazz courses or studying an instrument, as a result of I am additionally half Asian, so it performs into that entire cultural factor the place it is like, ‘Then on Saturday I’ve Chinese language college, then Monday I’ve ballet, Tuesday I’ve jazz, Wednesday I’ve piano, Thursday I’ve violin, after which Friday I’ve calligraphy,'” she says.
Then, when she was about 16 years outdated and dwelling in Shanghai, Awe discovered the native underground hip-hop dance scene. She by no means cherished ballet, however hip-hop — and all its “grounded” actions — clicked for her, and this informal setting was an ideal place to search out her strikes. “You are not going there to shoot a music video or e-book dancers on the market to tour. It is extra so for the love of hip-hop and for the love of simply dance, interval,” she says.
She began educating dance and performing in native reveals and music movies, and on the finish of highschool, determined that she needed — no, wanted — to observe her desires of turning into an expert dancer. She scrapped her plans of finding out one thing “business-y” in England, and as a substitute, “was like, “OK, the place do dancers bloom or thrive?”
The reply: New York Metropolis. Awe began finding out media and tradition at The New School whereas minoring in dance, spending years within the neighborhood of legendary dance establishments, corresponding to Alvin Ailey and Juilliard, and honing her craft. “However deep down, I nonetheless needed to do extra so industrial, and that was all in LA,” she says. So after commencement, off she went.
Making It All Occur In LA
As soon as in LA, Awe began auditioning, scoring dance gigs working with totally different musical artists, showing in music movies, and occurring tour with Bhad Bhabie. She was additionally a part of a woman group, Syd Youth, from 2013 to 2015. She by no means stopped dancing, however began spending extra time in entrance of the digital camera “speaking, speaking, and speaking,” she says — for instance, as Shein’s live-stream host and one of many faces on “The Loop”, a Snapchat show about street style.
When social media content material began feeling like the subsequent massive factor within the leisure area, Awe was prepared — she says creating got here organically to her. She did not essentially hunt down social media renown, however began posting distinctive style hauls for enjoyable, they usually actually “took off,” she says.
Her method was easy. She and her buddies are already artistic sorts, dancers, and all-around “goofy folks,” Awe says, so she began filming herself doing the identical issues “I used to be already doing with out cameras being on,” she explains. Generally that concerned getting glammed up or going wild at a music festival. However for Awe, it additionally meant filming choreographed routines that concerned jumping over shoe boxes in her lounge, or singing into a potato.
What She’s Bringing to the Combine
Awe does not reserve her comedic angle for TikTok: She’s bringing it to the POPSUGAR stage, too. “I need folks to look at these movies and I need them to chortle whereas they’re understanding,” she says. “I need them to really feel impressed, not embarrassed . . . and to really feel empowerment, as effectively. To do all of it with laughter and humor, as a result of that is actually the very best drugs. I do know folks, whether or not they’re going via a heartbreak, they’ve simply gotten fired, or no matter they are going via, they’re all the time like, ‘I simply must work out, I must sweat, I must do all these items.’ To try this, to chortle on the identical time, and to get pleasure from it, to heal and get pleasure from the method of therapeutic, that is good.”
An enormous a part of her social content material has been impressed by her multicultural upbringing. For instance, Awe will share her favorite Taiwanese takeout dishes, and likewise educate a brand new Mandarin phrase every week on her social channels, known as “MandoMondaze”. “People who find themselves non-Mandarin audio system or who aren’t even Asian watch that they usually’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I like this. That is what I wish to do and what I wish to be taught,'” she says. “That is an enormous half that additionally retains me going: to wish to proceed bringing my tradition or proceed representing my tradition, in that sense.”
However regardless of how magical all of it seems on social media, working in leisure and as a content material creator is not with out its ups and downs. Past her “perfectionist” Virgo urge to reshoot every thing till every take is flawless, Awe says one of many largest challenges she faces is how inconsistent the trade is. “You may have the very best experiences, you will have a stream of revenue, and then you definitely’ll discover stability that’ll be very brief time period,” she says. “Then you definitely’re again within the trenches and you are like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Why did I do that? Why did I select this profession and this route?'”
In the end, she says the sensation of gratitude all the time returns: “I would not have it another approach,” she says. And when she’s in a kind of lows, she merely has to remind herself that “it doesn’t suggest I am again in sq. one, it simply means I am again creating once more and I simply want inspiration. Generally that takes time.”
Picture Supply: POPSUGAR Video