I was always ashamed of everything that was happening until I got older and realized that so many people have crap in their lives and as part of being human, we need to connect and share the dark side as well as the light.
We’ve all had that really bad day at work. A day where we wanted to quit, finally pursue the childhood dreams our heart has been aching for and never look back. One day, Chelsea Janssen did just that.
We were first introduced to Chelsea as “talent” for a work project and quickly realized she had something very “it” factor about her. Yet, she was also incredibly approachable. We were so fascinated by her, that we took an entire day to follow her around on her skateboard to conduct her interview, coffee cup in had.
It seems as though Chelsea is always in motion. It’s fitting that she’s made a career as a professional performer and dancer. A career that has required her to file 15 different tax forms for the year... but has also taken her around the world from Miami to Singapore.
Watching her move on stage and in the gym, you would have no idea how “messy” Chelsea’s childhood was. With an aunt who owned a dance studio, performing was an easy escape from the addiction struggles that surrounded her at home. Her family members have been in and out of jail, struggled with addiction and still fight through health issues.
She never assumes anything is a given. When she wasn’t challenged by her college dance team, she auditioned for the New York Jets Flight Crew at 19 years old - and made it. Today, she’s on the Ultra Angels team traveling the world as a performer for the Ultra Music Festival series.
Beyond her success as a performer, her introspection is inspiring. When we look back on this interview it’s like reading a breath of fresh air on paper - or listening to one on a podcast. Something we’ll bookmark so we can pull it up again when we need a reminder that, of course, we all have more we can give.
WE START OUR INTERVIEWS LIKE WE DO OUR WORKOUT, WITH A WARM-UP.
My active Way of Life is: Never standing still, physically, mentally, and geographically. Just keep moving forward.
In the morning you can find me mapping out my day, responding to emails, yelling at my roommate's dog (because he’s usually barking by now)
At night you can find me Either heading to work or heading to my bed. It’s a toss-up.
What time do you wake up in the morning? The morning is my favorite time of day, but my crazy schedule doesn’t usually allow me to have a scheduled wake up time.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? My curiosity of what the day ahead will bring.
Do you have any routines? And if so, what is your favorite? The only thing that I can say I do every single day is DRINK COFFEE. It is my happiness and my meditation, a time that I force myself to just sit for a minute and drink in peace. Unless I have to run, then I’m drinking it on my skateboard!
Best workout you’ve ever had Dancing is the best workout in the world. Climbing mountains is high on the list, I’d do a lot for a good view.
What’s a goal you have for yourself tomorrow? Do more things for my internal self.
What was your last “epiphany” or moment of realizing something impactful to you? Patience and letting go. I am big on control, and there is freedom to being out of it. There will be many times in this life that we will have no say. A huge part in defeating these times is learning to accept what you cannot control.
What’s one way you like to care for yourself? Dancing. Just me, music, and a mirror. A time when no one is looking, judging, or waiting to be entertained. I can express everything I’ve been feeling without speaking. That’s my happy place.
NOW FOR THE ENDURANCE ROUND - LET'S GET PERSONAL.
WOLACO Women: As a dancer, and a performer, throughout your adolescent and young adult life, what motivated you to start a sales job right after college? And, how did you eventually decide to return to performing?
Chelsea Janssen: I think I was fully immersed by the idea of the American kid goes to college, graduates, and starts a job in the big city because that is what everyone around me was doing, I had the idea in the back of my mind that I had outgrown being a performer, I had never even thought dancing would be an option as a full-time job because I was so stuck in this routine. It had been itching at me that I wanted to dance again and I hated my job, I knew there had to be more to life than this. One night I was out with some of my friends in the entertainment industry who had recently been thriving, she looked at me and said “you quit your job tomorrow, there is plenty of food for everyone to eat doing what they want as long as you’re willing to hustle” So, the next day, I quit!
One night I was out with some of my friends in the entertainment industry who had recently been thriving, she looked at me and said “you quit your job tomorrow, there is plenty of food for everyone to eat doing what they want as long as you’re willing to hustle” So, the next day, I quit!
WW: During college, you were on the New York Jets Flight Crew for two seasons - starting when you were just 19. Have you had another big “I made it!” moment yet?
CJ: The moment I made the team for Ultra Angels, I thought, amazing I am performing on a huge team again and I love it…But it wasn’t until I got the email “You will be on the Ultra World Tour 2018” that I had, not so much an “I made it” moment, as much as a “keep going” moment. But, every time I hop on an airplane to do what I love, I have nothing but appreciation.
WW: You are big on control, but the career path that you’ve gravitated towards leads you to have one of the most ambiguous schedules of them all. How do you manage your internal instinct to take command against the external forces that tend to prohibit you from doing so?
CJ: I try to keep in control, but to be honest I fail at that a lot, because it’s impossible. But I found comfort when I started backpacking in foreign places and connecting with people and places, finding the beauty of letting go and seeing what happens.
WW: What does cross-training look like for you? Are all of your workouts choreographed dance?
CJ: Lord, I do every workout you can think of. Running, yoga, weight training, HIIT, classes all over NYC, aerial arts, abs on the floor in my living room. If it’s movement and challenging, I want to do it. I just can’t sit still.
WW: For your line of work, staying in shape is more or less a necessity to stay competitive. How else does fitness and staying active add value to your life?
CJ: I feel my best, mentally, physically, and emotionally when I am able to consistently use fitness as my outlet. I feel ready for whatever life has to throw at me. I guess that’s another thing I can keep in control with. Not to mention the feeling of fitness is addicting.
WW: For many of our customers, fitness is the priority, but ultimately ends up coming second to our jobs, families, etc. Since staying active and in shape is your number one focus, how do you spend your time when you aren’t being active?
CJ: I love shooting and creating videos. Especially from my travels and adventures. Hiking, climbing things, camping, skating, wakesurfing, shoot, if it’s outside I am in!! And between all of that, you can catch me eating. I guess those are all active things… I try to write, read, meditate, but hey I'm only human. I wish I did those things way more often than I do.
WW: One of the things about you that I have been incredibly impressed by is how open you’ve been with us about your past and how painful it was for you. How have you embraced sharing the darker parts of your life rather than trying to conceal it? Was there ever a period in your life that you didn’t want to share it?
CJ: My parents and my older brother have been troubled since I can remember. Drugs and prison are seared into my memories. There was a lot of darkness, but never a shortage of love. Addiction is a shitty disease, and all I’ve known is to try to be the light for everyone around me. When you spend most of your childhood searching for peace, eventually you find it and hold on to it with everything you’ve got. I grew up my whole life with people saying “don’t tell anyone …” So I was always ashamed of everything that was happening until I got older and realized that so many people have crap in their lives and as part of being human, we need to connect and share the dark side as well as the light. I do that by example. I am always ready to dish my stuff to show people its okay. I think it’s my duty as a survivor to share.
When you spend most of your childhood searching for peace, eventually you find it and hold on to it with everything you’ve got.
WW: You said that “all I’ve known is to try to be the light for everyone around me.” Does it come naturally to you to be “the light?” Or is it something that you adapted to when it was thrust upon you?
CJ: Like I said, it's all I know. I’m not sure when it started or how it’s just my constant reaction to things around me. I guess the reason I am sharing this because it’s my past and present that fuel my future. A real chip on my shoulder you might say, to never stop moving forward.
BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S A QUICK COOL DOWN
WW: I don’t typically ask our featured women to give advice to their younger selves, but I am curious if you had the opportunity, what would you say to her?
CJ: Stay in ballet. Relax your shoulders. And point your damn toes!
Interview by: Linley Shaw