God at the centre of it all.
This is the mantra of renowned dancer Ghelisa Mayers. The 24-year-old has been through it all, rolling with the punches and savouring both the good and bad; but at the centre of it all, she says God has been there.
“I am a Christian. I strongly believe in God . . . . Everything I’ve been through so far has brought me closer to [Him] in a sense, because without Him, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I would not have accomplished all the things that I have.
“People can’t say they did it on their own, even if they don’t believe in God. There is a higher power directing you or leading you in the path that you need to go,” she said.
Ghelisa, in recounting her journey, told Bajan Vibes that it all began for her at the age of six, when her mother Tamara came to pick her up from school one evening and couldn’t find her. After much panic, her frenzied mother having scoured the grounds of the then Erdiston Primary School, found her dancing with the big children.
“So, from that point, she enrolled me into dancing; and I’ve been dancing ever since. I started my formal training with Dancin’ Africa. I have been with them for 19 years.
“I started doing ballet around age 13 with Dance Place. Then I started dancing with Praise Academy. I now teach there as well. I teach children ballet and modern.
“I studied at Edna Manley College Of Visual And Performing Arts in Jamaica, I recently finished my Associate’s degree in dance at BCC,” she said.
It was in 2005 that she would venture into roles on the “silver screen”, making a foray into the world of cinematic acting.
“I did a short film. Then I did the Hush one. Praise Academy was holding auditions, and I audition and I got it. I was also in Hush 2 and a little bit of Hush 3. I never really saw myself as an actress, but I did it and then I realized I could do it, and that I had the talent to do it.
“I’m not as passionate about it as I am about dance and fashion. But its something that I like doing. I like being able to be somebody else and go through the process of being that person and coming up with a back story for that character.
“I also did the Hush stage play in July and I did the lead role for that. The girl who did the lead role in the movie, she is studying in England, now so I auditioned for that part and I got it.
“It was an amazing process for me. It was also a healing process as well. The role is kind of similar to my own story, based on the whole fact of her boyfriend disowning her and being molested and all that. So it was a chance for me to deal with that dark side of me and not have to pretend that it didn’t happen. Some days were hard and then some days were better,” Ghelisa told Bajan Vibes.
“I think it has changed my perspective on life, and in terms of being able to go after all that you want to be and not having that fear of the unknown. It has also changed how I view myself. I didn’t see myself in a good light. So from doing all these things, I realized that I’m worth something and I’m valuable. And I have something to offer.
“And I think that is important to know that as a person in order for you to move forward or for you to be able to thrive and excel. In life you have to have some type of self-love or self-worth. It’s also thought me humility.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not a humble person, but it has shown me that if I am not humble, I can’t really go anywhere. People prefer to deal with people who are humble and are willing to take correction and direction.
Outside of balancing an everyday job, and an artistic career, Ghelisa is also a mother to 18-month-old Amor. She recounted that when she became pregnant, she was not in “a good place”. She was not attending church as much as she would have liked and now she was a single parent.
“I guess I kinda backslid, [but] when I found out I was pregnant, I said I didn’t want to raise my child without being a Christian. I didn’t want her to grow up not knowing the importance of having a relationship with God. So that brought me closer to God.
“I think it has changed for me what I thought love was. I don’t think I knew what love was until I had her. Love is selfless. It is willing to do anything to make sure that person that you love gets through. My mindset has completely changed,” she explained while pointing out that she had to grow up fast, learning the valuable lessons of time and money management.
“I think I’ve become a more protective person. No one wants their child to be harmed. I have a long way to go; I’m not perfect. The most important thing is for her to know that I love her. I want to raise in such a way that she values herself and knows that she has self-worth.
“I think a lot of young girls don’t have that self-worth they need to have, and it causes them to make a lot of foolish mistakes, like me. Having her as well taught me forgiveness in many forms –– in terms of her dad not being there, and forgiving people in general that have hurt me.
“You can’t move forward unless you put everything that you have been through behind you and forgive the people who have hurt you. I want her to be all that she can be,” Ghelisa said
As for her other goals, she said she would like to open a centre for children with Down syndrome –– and use dance as therapy.
“I want to do a small thing here. I want to really pursue it in Canada.”
In addition, one of her biggest dreams is to be a part of Lion King.
“In 2006 I got an award for the most promising performance by an individual. I also got the same award in 2011. In 2009 I got a scholarship to go to a musical theatre school in Canada, but I deferred the scholarship to go to Jamaica. My mum wasn’t comfortable with my going to Canada by myself; so I did Jamaica because I knew people there.
“I would like to be teaching some more and I would also like to be in Lion King. That’s my ultimate dream.
“I would also like to be a part of the development of the arts in Barbados. For me, I think that compared to where we were 20 years ago. We are nowhere near where we are supposed to be.
“I think we have gone back instead of moving forward. And I think it’s very important that we see the value of the arts. Not just dance, but music and drama and any other art form. It is very important to someones development,” Ghelisa says.