What’s up y’all!
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and dish the dirt with none other than Julissa Bermudez. Many of you may know her from BET’s 106 and Park or MTV’s now defunct TRL, but don’t limit the Dominican beauty to just being a popular VJ. Miss Bermudez, JB if you’re nasty, is a triple threat. She acts, dances and sings in her latest independent film, “Make It Happen.” Those of you expecting Julissa to display the bubbly personality you have seen on her many hosting gigs, are in for a rude awakening. In this film, she puts the “B” in BEEEEEOTCH as she perfects the role of Carmen, a sexy burlesque dancer. The movie takes you into the world of a young lady who aspires to leave rural Indiana and make it as a dancer in one of Chicago’s premiere dance academies. After a non-favorable dance audition and not wanting to be a failure, she gets caught up in the world of burlesque dance. But she eventually finds her way back to her true passion. Although, I am not sure that I would pay to see this film in the theater, it was not so bad. It was kind of cute in a “Save the Last Dance” kind of way. That said, I think it would be a great stocking stuffer for the teens (it’s rated PG-13) in your life.
Aside from the movie stuff, y’all know that I am known for getting the dirt, so I asked all of the questions that y’all would want to know and trust me when I tell you…there was no question off limits. I asked her everything from her relationship with Larry Johnson to her relationship with Viacom and everything in between. Check out some of our chit chat below…
Sony: What is your relationship with the Viacom family? We know that you did the Black Carpet for BET, then you were a correspondent for Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and you did MTV’s TRL in the morning but what are you doing, if anything, with them now?
Julissa: Viacom and BET are a family. They have all been supportive of my career. BET and Steven Hill, Penny McDonald and everybody over at BET, the crew, the entire staff and everybody that works at every single show that I have ever worked at has always been really supportive. When you hear about them saying the Viacom family or the BET family it really feels that way. You literally grow a bond with these people that you work with on an everyday basis for whatever amount of months or whatever amount of time it just becomes a great environment and a family environment, so it’s a lot of support. They’ve been great. BET for example…for this movie gave me three months off to do the film and to train in LA. They are welcoming me back with open arms. (She will be on 106 and Park this week promoting the film.)
Sony: When selecting this role, what attracted you to the role as Carmen?
Julissa: What attracted me to the role of Carmen was the fact that she was so different from what people are used to seeing me, Julissa Bermudez “the host” doing. They are use to seeing me happy go lucky, always entertaining, trying to get these great interviews opposite “A Listers”. I was really excited that people were going to get to see me in a different light. They’re going to get to see me, first of all dancing, second of all, I’ll say singing. Although, I was supposed to be lip syncing and acting…I felt like this was going to make people see me in a different role. They’ve never seen me really as Miss Attitude, Queen B, dancing, singing, and acting. I really wanted to go totally opposite of what people are used to seeing me.
Sony: What did you do to prepare for the role?
Julissa: Actually, to prepare for the role, I was in LA for three weeks to do some choreography just to get some of the dance moves down. Then we went to Canada and I was in Canada shooting for two and a half months and while my scenes weren’t shooting I was still in rehearsal getting the last minute changes to the choreography just learning the different moves. Literally growing up, I always wanted to be a dancer. Prima ballerina was my goal. I wanted to be on Broadway dancing, singing, acting…everything. So I was really excited about it.
Sony: I read somewhere that you were working on an album with Rodney Jerkins. What happened with that?
Julissa: The way that came up is Rodney Jerkins and I happened to meet and he was just the nicest guy. When Rodney Jerkins, a producer of his status invites you to go to the studio to just play around and get in the vocal booth you don’t say no to an opportunity like that. Plus, I’m an entertainer all around so I was like, hey…
Any opportunity that I feel is “great” I’m going to put my effort into it, my all into it…
So I went into the studio and I just…you know…was having a good time with Rodney Jerkins…who is…you know…a superstar producer. You don’t get opportunities like that to happen very often. I was just in there playing around and he was like, “Hey…you really have something and if you take a couple lessons, I think you would be right on.” I was like, “Well maybe it’s another avenue that I’ll explore down the line in my career, but it’s not something that I’m really focused on right now.”
Sony: So actually you are just focused on acting right now or going back to BET? What’s your main focus right now?
Julissa: My main focus right now, I would love to be able to balance acting and hosting because they are both something that I really love. I started off acting because that is something that I really wanted to do and basically, I was approached to go and audition for this show on Telemundo, which is where I started out. I went and I got it. Hosting to me was another avenue of expressing myself…another way of being out there…opening up the door basically. And when I saw the reaction…I mean all these young Latinas…they just embraced me so much when they saw me on Telemundo and Mun Dos. They just had so much love and they came up to me and they say that I can relate to them and growing up I didn’t really have that. I couldn’t turn on the TV and see girls that looked just like me (and) to be able to do that I was like, ‘Wow this is a great opportunity’…to be able to see a young Latina on TV expressing my views and feelings and being able to be a voice for my generation. Once I started doing that and got the feedback and reaction I was like, ‘Wow this is something that I really want to explore.’ That’s why I come to the decision that I want to balance both. I want to be kind of a Latina Kelly Ripa if you will…it’s so much fun doing both of them.
Sony: Have you ever turned down a role? What is your criterion when choosing a role? What won’t you do?
Julissa: Well I don’t know if I’m ready for nudity, I’ll tell you that. I’ve been approached to do some…I won’t say nude but some scantily clad things…where I said, you know what…I don’t think I’m ready for that. Carmen to me was sexy enough. I’m not going to say that I will never do it because when anything is done in a tasteful way…
Well…you can never say never….I’m just excited to see what other roles are coming at me now. Whether they be sexy…or you know…really emotional and deep…anything that I feel as though will help me get better at my craft, I am really ready and willing to do.
Sony: Would you or have you ever worked for free…or darn near free? How important is money when choosing a movie role?
Julissa: Oh absolutely! I’ve been approached to do a lot of great things that don’t necessarily always have a big ol’ budget and I look at opportunities because at the end of the day who knows what that opportunity can lead to. That opportunity could lead to a lot more that are going to be more lucrative. You have to look at each opportunity whether it’s not a great amount of money or not it still has a lot of value. It could have more value than just getting a check. I’d rather be able to do something that I am going to be happy with and generally excited about and not get paid anything, than be stuck on something that I am going to be miserable doing or not as excited about doing, and it’s not something that I really want to do, and get paid a ton of money. I’ve definitely turned down some things that would have been great for my bank account, but at the end of the day when you’re an artist and when you’re someone whose really trying to make a mark or really just trying to work on your craft, no question you’re going to have to do things where there’s not always going to be money involved. You have to look at the opportunity at hand and look at the bigger picture. What can those things lead to? You’re learning a lot more and sometimes you can’t even buy that.
Sony: Now that we’ve gotten the movie questions out of the way, I’m known for dishing the dirt so I’m ‘bout to get all up in your business. Now if there is something that I ask you and you don’t want to answer just tell me “Sony, that’s none of your business”. You will not hurt my feelings.
Julissa: Nah, it’s good.
Sony: Rumor had it that you were engaged to the football player Larry Johnson. Is the engagement still on or did you guys break up?
Julissa: I wish LJ nothing but the best. He’s an INCREDIBLE person (she put emphasis on incredible). Ummmm…I think he is very misunderstood at times and people just see a certain side of him of course because of the position that he’s in. I feel like anybody who’s ever in certain positions there’s always going to be a little bit of everything…a little bit of fame…a little bit of people trying to bring you down…a little bit of everything really. My relationship with him is that I wish him nothing but the best and he was a great person in my life and ummmm…you know…I have nothing but love for him.
Sony: Are you guys still friends?
Julissa: Oh yeah. Like I said, I have nothing but love for him and I wish him nothing but the best. He’s a really talented individual. I wish him a lot of success both personally, financially and career wise.
Side Bar-For those of you who don’t know Larry Johnson, he plays for the KC Chiefs and like several of his football counterparts, he is always in trouble with the law. His latest arrest was in October 2008 for an incident with some chick in a KC nightclub. It’s a good thing Julissa cleared up the fact that he is “misunderstood.” For a minute there, I thought he was a domestic abuser. I guess you can’t go by his arrest record for domestic abuse against women that spans from 2003 to 2008. Nuff said…
Sony: Oh…that’s awesome. Are you dating anyone now or do you just have a few friends that you see every now and then?
Julissa: I’m not dating anyone. If I take a picture with someone they are not my boyfriend. I’m telling you now, I’m just really honestly…I know it’s the cliche’ answer and the politically correct thing to say, but I’m really focused on what I want to do and the different things that I have going on in trying to get to the next level or the next role that I think I’m going to be excited about. I’m just focused on that….focused on the things that are being handed my way. Trying to just take it one day at a time and really just take it easy.
Sony: You are normally the interviewer, so does it feel weird that now people are interviewing you?
Julissa: I’m not going to lie it’s definitely a different feeling…it’s exciting. If you can notice that I sometimes want to cut you off and get into answering the question because I’m so use to being the one in control. When you’re the one getting interviewed, you never know where the interview is going to go. It’s exciting in that sense too, but it can be scary because you don’t know what question is coming up next. Now I’m in the hot seat. Now I’m the one that has to figure out how to get across the answers that I want but still be professional about it. Now I understand where a lot of these artists are coming from. It’s interesting and it’s a change and I like it.
Sony: Tell me something about Julissa that you want the world to know that I haven’t asked you that you want to put out there?
Julissa: I want everybody to know that I am from the Dominican Republic and that I have gone back to work with some organizations out there and that one day I would hope to open up a school of the arts for kids out there to explore their talents…to be able to be great actors and dancers and entertainers…whatever aspect of it…in entertainment that they want to be. Obviously, a lot of people know us for the great baseball players that we have, but we also have some really great talent coming out of the Dominican Republic. I am also working with an organization called LIFE (LATINAS IN FASHION AND ENTERTAINMENT). If everybody could check out the website or just Google “LIFE” or “Latinas in Fashion and Entertainment” that would be great. I’m basically just excited to be able to represent my culture in anything and everything that I do.
Holla back at your girl and be sure to check out Julissa Bermudez in “Make It Happen.” It’s really a cute movie. I may be a little biased because the setting was Chicago and JB is my new buddy…but go get the movie anyway.