Often, life is perceived as a singular path, as one journey. There’s a starting point, then a linear path that you can stroll about to reach your destined ending. As 15-year-old actress, singer, and mental health advocate Jade Rodriguez has learned, venturing into the real world can challenge you to no end. It’s a complex labyrinth of twists and turns, of hardships and successes, and to navigate through this is to come to a point of self-discovery.
Through performing in musicals that made her feel alive again, experiencing bullying and discouragement towards her greatest passions, and traversing over the rocky hills of her career, Jade discovered that she is the journey. She herself is the only one capable of overcoming her struggles and rising again. By believing in her own individuality, she will go fast – but with the help and support of her sister, family, and friends, she will go farther than ever before.
When Jade was young, she would sing songs that she had no reconciliation of the lyrics to. She would simply try to find the melodies, feel the groove and the beat, and let the music take over her. Music runs in Jade’s family. Her father is a musician in the Dominican Republic, his stage name being “Johnny Johnny”, and her love for music translated from his generation to hers. Jade chose to pursue music out of the innate connection she had with the art form — it reminded her of home.
Not many of her peers supported her decision, however. Jade was bullied in her middle school, and when she left, she was cyberbullied. After transferring to a different school, Jade was delighted to discover that she could partake in vocal groups and annual school plays. She considers them as “the first baby steps into finding my passion”.
It was this part in Jade’s journey were she got lost. She lost herself, she was outcasted and placed into the darkness, simply because she wanted to go after what she loved.
The Sensation of the Stage
When Jade got accepted to High Tech, she was ecstatic, but still felt off-course due to being in a different major than her desired department, Musical Theatre. She decided to take this opportunity to build her resume and strive outside of school, she wasn’t going to let one rejection hinder her passion.
All of a sudden, it was like the sun had risen again after an eternal night. Jade got casted for the Bergen Pac Community’s Production of “The Producers”, where it became a source of light and positivity in her life. Jade’s sister, Mya, introduced her to the community, and joined the production alongside her. She was the youngest cast member to receive a callback for the main female lead, along with two other callbacks. She found that every moment spent in the audition room was celestial and magical, and increased her love and passion for the arts.
Overall, Jade rehearsed forty hours a week for an entire month, from 9am to 6pm every day for the show, as well as working at her job. It was worth it, however. She felt so connected and had an epiphany – performing in musical theatre was her fate; it was what she wanted to with her life.
Through “The Producers”, Jade was welcomed into a supportive community with open arms. She formed bonds and friendships with the cast that she would cherish for the rest of her life. They would stay late after rehearsals to talk, get breakfast together, celebrate Jade on her birthday, and motivate her to be a better performer.
When Jade steps onto the stage, she becomes alive. It’s as if all the pent-up emotions, anguish towards the people that doubted her, her past memories, and her never-ending passion for musical theatre is manifested into her performance. The sensation that overtakes Jade when the spotlight shines on her is embodied into her role, and adds layers to her multi-dimensional character portrayal.
“The last night of “The Producers”, a little girl came up to me and asked me to sign something for her. It meant the world to me.”Jade Rodriguez
The New Girl in Me is Pretty Dope
Jade, like some of Zenerations’ previous interview subjects, Kiana Roman and Naima Idrissi, are part of High Tech High School’s Slam Poetry Club. The club can be described in a multitude of ways, and if Jade had to sum it up in three words, she would use diverse, raw, and refreshing.
Poetry is clearly a very unappreciated art form. According to Jade, “to write poetry is hiding what your message is through metaphors and rhymes”. Jade’s writing process involved breaking down every component, element, and aspect to detail what to send out. She uses different scenarios in her everyday life to compose each piece, like how watering her plant can translate to checking in on yourself. It’s the little things that she analyzed that help her trigger the thought process of writing a poem.
Poetry is so beautiful, there’s no right or wrong structure or format to follow, you just let your mind speak for you and your words speak for you. That’s something that I really admire.Jade Rodriguez
Jade uses words strung together in verses to help her understand the complexity of human emotions. The first poem she wrote was called “My Lighter”, centered around her struggles with someone that had used her in her freshman year. With the composition of her second poem, “The New Girl in Me is Pretty Dope”, she was able to find self love, infusing her with enough positive mental energy to pick up speed along her path.
Her Past Does Not Define Her
“I’m not going to lie, the other day, I cried yesterday. I put on my headphones and just put on music that has always guided me ever since I was younger, so I would take these emotions and what I usually do is write them down.”Jade Rodriguez
Acting is the foundation of everything. Jade portrays each character through every move, through every posture, through every walk, every sound. She uses this same concept in order to be in-tune with her emotions and persona. Jade’s presentation of her own self involves having a positive mindset, keeping in mind that tomorrow is a new day, and not letting her past define her.
Jade Rodriguez is the epitome of intuition. She constantly spreads positivity, as she has the notion that life is too short. In doing this, she shares the message of considering yourself first, which she understands as an act of self-love. Jade is encouraging, empowering, and expressive, and never strays away from those that she loves.
Post something nice on Instagram. Compliment a stranger. Hug your family a bit tighter. Check up on people, especially during this time.Jade Rodriguez
Jade is the Journey
It hasn’t been easy. Nothing ever is. Jade has trudged through storms, climbed mountains, and struggled throughout her lifetime. Her desire to switch her high school major to musical theatre led her to face several obstacles. But every time she falls, she rises again, and uses her sister, Maya, her infinite, never-ending devotion to musical theatre, and her naturally-inclined intuition and desire to spread positivity to guide her along her path.
She may have barricades laying on the trail behind her, but Jade is not looking back. She’s focusing on the light shining upon the stage at the end of her road, and it’s a blurry image now, but with every step she takes, she gets closer to her destiny. Jade is the journey, and she will continue to love, improve upon, and explore the adventure that is herself.