Exclusive Interview: Kendra Oyesanya talks about her experience of working with Beyonce, her viral dancing videos, and the new season of “Step Up: High Water”

An artist’s role does not end at the creation of their work. Instead, it’s just the beginning. When digitalization is becoming a new norm, affecting how we consume and deliver content, understanding the audience’s mood and playing along with the tide with smart content creation goes a long way. Kendra Oyesanya understands the dynamics of the digital world and uses the platforms to showcase her talent, helping her audience discover different facets of her profession and personality.

She broke the Internet when she released the concept choreography for “Black Panther” and “US”. Her videos were watched by millions of people, with Jordan Peele sharing the video for the latter on his social media.

Kendra is actively involved in the creation of the content, conceptualizing and editing the videos all on her own, as she delivers them to her audience.  

A dancing extraordinaire with more than a decade of experience, Kendra has worked with some of the biggest performers in the industry including Beyonce, P. Diddy, Chris Brown, J Balvin, Paul McCartney, Neyo and many more.

Two years ago, Kendra took a dive into acting and booked her first lead role on the Lionsgate scripted series “Step Up: High Water” as Poppy Martinez. Poppy Martinez is a young spitfire dancer who takes no from no one. The series offers us an opportunity to see Kendra explore the realm of acting. CelebMix got a chance to talk to the artist about her journey, her experience of working with Beyonce for “Homecoming” Tour, and her upcoming projects. Check out the interview below:

Your dance routines and videos have reached millions of people across the globe. What inspired you to become a dancer?

I’ve always had dreams of becoming a dancer but honestly didn’t think I was good enough to compete with all the amazing dancers in LA. I am not formally trained so that was a bit discouraging. It wasn’t until a big time choreographer told me I should make the move to LA  that made me inspired to pursue dance.

How has been your journey so far?

It’s been great! So happy I made the move and finally believed in myself. I’ve had some bumps along the way but have had a pretty successful dance career in a short period of time.

We read that you moved to LA on your own. What has been the biggest learning lesson and what let you keep going even in the toughest of situations?

Yes, I moved to LA by myself with no family and friends. It was scary at first but I have a huge support system back home so that made my move easier. My biggest learning lesson has been to not be afraid to ask for help. I’m so used to doing things myself but in my toughest situations, someone was always there to help me through it. All I had to do was say something.

The field today is highly competitive. After working for almost a decade, what kind of major changes have you seen in the industry?

I’ve been in the Industry for almost 6 years and the biggest change I’ve seen so far is the power of social media. So many opportunities have been given off of a persons Instagram alone. Dancers and actors have been discovered on Instagram and now it’s like your own virtual resume. 

You have worked alongside some of the biggest performers including Ne-Yo, Tinashe, Beyonce, and many others. How do you see your evolution as a performer? What kind of difference does one see when one performs on a larger scale? 

I have really grown as performed over the years. I’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge from many different jobs big and small. The smaller gigs really prepared me for the bigger artist. When you perform on a larger scale the level of professionalism is higher and also the stakes. You can’t afford to mess up or not be on point when performing on a larger scale.

A lot of your Instagram dance videos shows us a glimpse of your editing and content creation skills. As a content creator, how do you perceive your work? What part of the creative process do you like to participate in the most?

Each video I create gets better so it’s really cool to see my growth and watch my work evolve. I’m self-taught so each video I’m learning something new. Directing is my favourite part because I really get to bring my vision to life. 

Your video for “Black Panther” and now “Us” have surpassed millions of views and have been shared on some of the major platforms? How did you come up with the idea for these videos and what was your reaction when you saw the audience’s reaction?

Our Black Panther video was a very last minute idea. A week before I texted my friends and told them I wanted to go all out for the blank panther challenge wearing dashikis and really do it for the culture. It wasn’t until the day of where I texted everyone that we should do a video outside the movie theatre. Everyone was down and we made up the routine an hour before the show. I was inspired by the trailer for the US video concept. We actually filmed the video before the movie came out so we based the concept on the trailer alone. I was very intrigued by Jordan Peele’s storyline that I couldn’t resist! Called my friend to tell him my idea, found some kids, and workshopped on the choreography. I’ve gone viral a few times but these videos were definitely the biggest. I never thought my videos would blow up the way they did because to me all I was doing was just having fun and being creative.

Beyond the plot, “Black Panther” holds a cultural significance as it helps provide visibility to people who for long have not been given space and opportunities to prove their calibre. As a person who is working within the industry, how you perceive the question of representation?

I think it’s important to have representation in the industry. For so long I didn’t see anyone on TV who looked like me especially someone who is African as myself. I think that’s why movies like black panther and Us did so well because it wasn’t the typical Marvel movie or horror film. Both films had a majority black cast and both films represented culture in a way where you could connect with the story.

Beyonce has established herself as not just a successful artist but also an influential personality. People, young or old look up to her for inspiration. How was the experience of working with her as a dancer?

It was tough but looking back on it, she definitely set the standard for how hard You should work. We rehearsed for months and so many people were involved. The experience definitely inspired me and was a full circle moment. 

What is your favourite part of “Homecoming”? If you have to recommend it to someone new, what reasons would you list for them to watch it?

I have a lot of favourite moments. I enjoyed watching the behind the scene moments. I barely noticed the cameras around so it was cool to see real natural moments in rehearsal. Reasons to watch, uhh for one it’s a phenomenal show (one of the best:)) and if you’re an entertainer and want to be inspired you should definitely watch it.

Congratulations on your role in “Step Up: High Water”. Before auditioning for the show, did you see acting as a career prospect for yourself? What really drew you to the field (acting)?

Not really. I was always interested but was focused more on dance. When I finally decided to pursue acting I booked Step up like 3 months later so I knew that was God telling me that I was ready. I enjoy storytelling so that’s what really drew me to acting.

The series was renewed for the new season. How has been your experience on the show?

My experience with the show has been amazing. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. We’re really like family and my castmates and crew are all amazingly talented people.

Both as a dancer as well as an actor, what kinds of projects would you like to work on? 

As an actor, I would love to book a lead in a movie that’s my main goal.  As a dancer, I wouldn’t mind choreographing for a movie as well.

Would you like to share with us your projects for the rest of 2019?

Right now Step Up: High Water. It’s a great series and I hope everyone can stream it. 
Are you excited for “Step Up: High Water”? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.

Written by Ayushi

Hi! I am Ayushi from India. The only thing that is consistent about me is my passion for writing and reading. Weaving words to form a story is the best thing I know and the only thing I want to do.
"Writer by nature is a dreamer, a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

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