Sometimes when you least expect it life opens a door which reveals many prospects to making your dreams come true. CJ Perry had an unexpected door open up for her when she went to Vegas with just $80.00 in her pocket and won $3,000. The aspiring Model, Dancer, Singer/Actress knew at that very moment she had to walk through that open door and take a chance on herself and move to Los Angeles to go after her dreams. Since then the very talented and ambitious rising starlet has never looked back as she watches her shining star rise. SayWhatNews spoke with CJ Perry about her rising career and many talents in this One on One interview:
SayWhatNews: Good morning CJ. Thanks for taking the time and speaking with SayWhatNews. So first tell us who is CJ Perry?
CJ: I am the just the girl next door with really big dreams and a big heart that has gone through many ups and downs like 99% of all woman in the world.
SayWhatNews: Let us start with some background questions for our readers who are being introduced to you for the first time. Where were you born and raised?
CJ: I was born in Gainesville, Florida but was raised in the former Soviet Union in a country called Latvia. I speak fluent Russian.
SayWhatNews: Do you have any siblings?
CJ: Yes I am the oldest of four. I have two younger brothers and one younger sister.
SayWhatNews: I heard your father did missionary work. What was that like for you as a child? Did you do a lot of traveling around?
CJ: It was an amazing experience growing up as a missionary kid in a third world country. By the age of 12 years old I had been to 30 different countries. It opened my mind to different cultures, races, religions and life experiences. I grew up as a minority; in a country where they did not like Americans. I remember being persecuted, being made fun of and even getting lower grades in school because my teachers hated Americans and Christians. At 17 years old, when I moved back to America, I gravitated towards minorities more than anyone else because of being discriminated against for my race and religion. I honestly couldn't relate to the average white middle class American because I felt like I had nothing in common with them except the color of my skin.
SayWhatNews: Wow, that is so interesting; your up-bringing would be a really good movie. Now, CJ, you graduated from the Latvian National Ballet Academy. What inspired you to become a dancer?
CJ: As long as I can remember I have always been twirling and dancing. My mom was a professional dancer and started the first B.F.A program in Latvia for Dance. As a little girl I would choreograph dances in my living room and make my neighbors perform them. One of the reasons I love dancing the most is because when I dance the world fades away. I feel something when I dance that I can't express words but it moves my soul. I can use dance as an outlet for anything. It is a form of expression and It connects me to my creator.
SayWhatNews: During your teenage years you toured Europe and became fluent in Russian. How important do you think that experience was for you to assist with your dream to become a Dancer/Entertainer?
CJ: Well, I think the biggest thing it taught me that no mountain was too high to climb. I had so many challenges that I had to face being American. It would be like an African American in the US in the 70s. I had to prove even more than anyone else that I was as good as my fellow dancers. It also taught me at a very young age, that dreaming wasn't enough; I had to commit and sacrifice everything to make my dreams possible. I had no social life in high school. I devoted my life to becoming the best dancer I could be. We had mandatory dance classes and rehearsals around 35 hours a week and then on top of that i would work privately in the studio by myself or with my coaches another 15-20 hours a week. And I wasn't going to give up until I made those dreams possible. When I toured and danced everything I wanted on stage, I decided I wanted to chase other dreams as well. I figured, if I approach entertainment the same way sooner or later I would have my big break.
SayWhatNews: While attending Florida State University you became FSU Cowgirl which led to your modeling career with the help from Jenn Sterger who helped train and develop your look. Did you ever want to become a model before?
CJ: As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a swimsuit model and lingerie model. As long as I can remember I was obsessed with Victoria Secrets. I remember being 8 years old and looking through the catalogs and just being obsessed with Tyra Banks and Melissa Miller. As a teenager I would pretend to be a model by going out to the beach and trying to pose like Victoria Secret Models and have my girlfriend take pictures of me. I remember when my parents found those pictures they were not so happy. I still have those pictures and they are hysterical!
SayWhatNews: With several Bikini Contests wins under your belt and prestigious modeling gigs like RIDGID Calendar and Matrix Energy Drink, you also became 2008 & 2009’s “Hot College Girl” (most downloaded on AT&T and Sprint Networks). CJ, you have to explain what is a “Hot College Girl”?
CJ: HAHAHA that is a good question!!! Because now watching college games, I look at the people in the stands and the cheerleaders and I think all the girls are young and beautiful!!! I honestly think I just got really lucky and was very blessed. Florida State has so many gorgeous girls, so for Jenn Sterger to even pick me to be one of her fellow Cowgirls and have that opportunity it was an honor and a huge blessing that I will forever be grateful for. A general note for being "hot" is actually to be kind and nice to people. NO ONE likes a mean, rude, stuck up "hot" girl. That immediately makes the girl less attractive.
SayWhatNews: After graduating you decided to leave Florida and go to Las Vegas with only $80.00 in your pocket. Lady luck was on your side and you won $3,000—from there you headed for Los Angeles. Tell us about the moment when you knew you had to take a chance and go to L.A. to pursue your dreams in show business?
CJ: My grandma always would say this to me growing up, "The time is NOW. Not yesterday, not tomorrow but NOW. If you have a dream stop talking about it and go and make it happen. Yes it might get hard but just remember what Winston Churchill said, 'Never, Never, Never Give up."
So when I got that $3,000 dollars all I remember thinking is the time is NOW, go and make my dreams happen, don't look back and even when it gets tough NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, GIVE UP! I knew it would work out because the sky is the limit for possibilities.
SayWhatNews: CJ, Dancing and Modeling isn’t your only talent, you are also a singer. In 2009 you were recruited to join the girl group “No Means Yes” who were signed on to Ne-Yo’s label. How did this come to be?
CJ: A girlfriend of mine in college referred me to the man that was putting the group together. I honestly was so scared to sing and I didn't even know a song to sing at the audition so I sang "Jesus Loves Me." I remember them saying we can work with her tone because she has the right look and she is a model that break dances. I am so thankful to this day for that experience because I do not think I would have ever gotten the role in Pitch Perfect if I hadn't overcome my fear to open my mouth and sing.
SayWhatNews: Even though the group disbanded a year later because one of the girls left the group; the band did release one single, “Would You Like That”. What was it like being part of an all-girl group?
CJ: It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life! But it was one of the most life changing experiences of my life. It taught me to be a team player. It taught me that I was only as good as the weakest link in the group. It was a marriage with no sex. I had to learn that I couldn't always do what I wanted when I wanted but it was all about the group and my fellow band members. I am so thankful for this experience because in life people want to work with team players, and people that put other people above themselves instead of self-seekers.
SayWhatNews: Being part of the group, “No Means Yes” helped open many doors for you in the music industry. From there you toured with Pink and Keri Hilson as a dancer and also worked with Nelly, Usher, Jason DeRulo, Ludacris, Taio Cruz, and Big Time Rush. Did you ever have that “WOW” moment because you were working with some the hottest artists today?
CJ: I am always in the "WOW" moment. I just can't express my gratitude to God and to the people around me that have given me a chance to make my dreams a reality. Pink has been my favorite artist since 8 years old. I own every single one of her CDs and know all her songs, so when I danced with her it really was my ultimate dream as a dancer coming true! I love her music; I love her style, her boldness and her fearlessness. She is truly an incredible artist and it was an honor to dance on stage with this her.
SayWhatNews: How was it on the set of Nelly’s music video, “Move That Body” featuring Akon and T-Pain which also featured cameos of artist like T.I. and Jermaine Dupri?
CJ: IT WAS A BLAST!!!! I grew up listening to Nelly so it was so cool to be in his video as not just a feature but as the only white chick. The floor was completely wet and dirty and they put me in high heels and wanted me to full on breakdance. I just remember thinking ok CJ this your time to represent all the blonde chicks in the world DON'T MESS IT UP!!!!
SayWhatNews: And you most certainly did. CJ your career is moving forward at a steady pace. Not only have you been featured in music videos and toured with artists-you have starred in some hit TV shows like The Game and Cinemax original series Banshee. What inspired you to become an actress?
CJ: I always wanted to be an actress but I didn't have the opportunity to really pursue it. Acting is dance but with words. When I moved to Hollywood, I was like ok here I am in the city where the best of the best come to be stars so let me train with the best! That is what I did, I enrolled at Groundlings which is one of the best improv schools in America; Lesly Kahn School (Lesly is the yoda of comedy) and study with Michele Danner at the Larry Moss school. My ultimate inspiration in the TV and film business is that I love telling stories and that is what the film business is, it is story telling. My ultimate dream is to produce. I think that people's stories need to be told and they need to be heard. Funny stories, sad stories, inspiring stories, it all needs to be heard. TV and Film is of course entertainment and is used as an outlet to escape from our daily problems but it can also be used as a powerful tool to bring awareness. Like mental illness, our American soldiers, fireman, policeman, human trafficking and etc.
SayWhatNews: Your acting career has not only been on the small screen, you starred in the hit Universal Pictures movie, “Pitch Perfect” alongside Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. How amazing was it for you to use all of your talents (singing, dancing and acting) during this blockbuster film?
CJ: It was an honor to work with such incredible talent. It was one of favorite jobs that I did in my life and I have developed some of my closest friendships from that movie. The cool thing about that movie was when we performed on stage it was for a live audience but then at the same time they were filming so it was the best of both worlds. Stage and Film combined. I really hope I will be a part of Pitch Perfect 2!
SayWhatNews: What would be your idea acting role?
CJ: To be a super hero! To play a comic book character in a movie and TV show. I love that super heroes are usually very physical and since I break dance, wrestle and do martial arts; that is my dream to play in movies a badass chick. But really what I love about comic book heroes is that they stand up for what is right, they stand up for the underdog and for justice and that is how I try to model my life is standing up for the people that are persecuted, bullied or treated poorly for either their race, color, religion, weight, or background. I always wished people would stand up for me growing up so I figured the least I can do is start change with myself and stand up and speak out for others. I would love to play that in a movie!
SayWhatNews: So, CJ what do you like to do in your spare time?
CJ: I love adventure, I love doing anything physical(like martial arts, surfing, swimming, horseback riding) I love traveling and learning new things about that place and people. I love going to the gun range and shooting and also hunting. I love watching good TV shows and good movies. I love going to watch good stand-up comedians and improv shows. I love the beach. More than anything I love spending time with my family and close friends in my spare time.
SayWhatNews: What was the last movie you went to see?
CJ: Last night I watched on TV "End Watch" and "Pay It Forward" both are incredible movies and inspired me even more about the importance of storytelling and why I love so much being in the film business. The last movie I saw in theaters was Les Miserable and Django which are both amazing films! I cried like a baby in both!
SayWhatNews: Whose CD is in constant rotation on your playlist right now?
CJ: I have a mixed CD with Miranda Lambert, Adele, Pink, Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Paramore and John Mayer. It is all my favorite songs of those people and it is just on constant repeat! Also have a separate CD with all my favorite country songs on. I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC!
SayWhatNews: What’s next for CJ Perry?
CJ: I just signed a contract with WWE to be one of their DIVA girls after their world search. It is an honor to be one of the 5 girls they chose from 1000s worldwide. They have been putting me through wrestling training. So keep an eye out for me as a WWE DIVA girl! And thank you for all your support.