Karissa has Spirit
It's rare for a model/dancer to click with a photographer the moment they meet. There is usually a 10-15 minute feeling out process when you try to learn each other's tendencies while shooting. When we met Karissa for the first time we connected right away. Perhaps it was her love for cats or her genuine or fun-loving nature. It was easy to jump right in and start shooting. We met at Pasadena City Hall which is one of our favorite locations to shoot due to the architecture and overall feel of the building. Throughout the morning we all laughed, and we learned a lot about Karissa. Some of which we are going to share now. If you enjoy this blog, please leave a comment. We'd love to hear some feedback. And please check out our makeup artist's (Devon O'Malley's) page on Instagram at devonmakeupfx.
Karissa doesn't have a particular favorite style of dance however if she had to choose it would be between jazz and contemporary. She loves jazz for the performance aspect of it. She says it's just so fun and makes her feel good and she loves engaging with the audience. With contemporary, it's about a feeling and what you're portraying. It's almost like therapy. That's always been why she loves dancing contemporary. It doesn't even have to be performed for anyone, you can just dance and it's really just for you.
We asked her what her favorite style of music is to dance to. She stated, "I honestly love music so much so it's hard to say, but you can always find me bumpin' hip hop and R&B in my car so those instantly are ones I love to dance to. Whether it's in a class or literally anywhere it's playing, I'm going to want to dance to it."
We asked her what it feels like to stand on center court at Staples Center and perform in front of 18,000 people.
"It's an amazing feeling, performing in such a huge space. I don't really realize how many people are out there in the stands, haha. If anything, my focus is more on my surroundings and teammates while performing."
During the 2017-2018 NBA season, Staples Center was home to All-Star weekend. The Lakers and Clippers were co-hosts of the event. As part of the Spirit Squad, Karissa was able to participate in All-Star weekend which she said was incredible. A whirlwind for sure. And so busy yet so rewarding. It's fast paced and a bunch of last minute changes so it keeps you on your toes. But you get to be around the best of the best in the NBA for a weekend, and it's really a magical thing to be a part of and experience. She felt incredibly grateful for the opportunity and all that she took away from it.
Speaking of Cinderella, we have a very special Cinderella shoot for you all coming in the next several months. You won't want to miss it. It will put Karissa way out of her comfort zone and in a shoot like she's never done before, but she's excited and we are happy to have her on board for this shoot.
When at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Toy Story Mania is her favorite ride. She loves the game (mainly because she's pretty good at it). She also loves the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Anything that can make her stomach drop is a must.
Getting back to music, we wanted to know what Karissa's favorite song was of all-time. She stated she didn't have one but anything that comes out of Beyoncé's mouth she loves. So all of her songs fall into the category of favorite songs of hers.
And since she loves anything that comes out of Beyoncé's mouth, Beyoncé is her favorite singer of all-time. "There's so much more to her than her music. Not even just the fact that she is an amazing performer, but her ability to be so raw, open and vulnerable in her art form is something I truly admire."
Karissa began dancing when she was 8 years old. In her own words, it was a little late in the game since many dancers begin their careers at 2 or 3 years old in combo classes, but she bypassed all that. A few months after she began dance class, she told her mom she wanted to quit because she thought her teacher was mean, but when she spoke with her she convinced Karissa to stay and she is so thankful she did because it's been her love and life for the last 17 years.
Karissa started training primarily in jazz and lyrical dance but eventually branched out into contemporary, hip hop, modern and ballet.
When she was nine, Karissa made the competition team at her studio and shortly after began performing and competing on a regular basis.
Karissa began dancing with the LA Clippers Spirit Squad when she was 19. She has been a part of the team for six seasons. 3 years in they transitioned into a new direction for the team, so she's really gotten the chance to experience being a part of two different teams with two vastly different styles while a part of the organization. It's been a crazy ride but an enriching one to say the least. She is currently the co-captain of the Spirit Squad. They recently held auditions and welcomed back several veterans and added some rookies who are excited to be a part of the team and will only help this team grow.
Karissa's favorite part of dancing with the Spirit Squad is getting to cross paths and become friends with so many different incredible women. Many of whom she will cherish for the rest of her life.
2 summers ago, Karissa got hired on as a Beauxbaton dancer at Universal Studios. She performs on stage inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. When she isn't performing at Universal, she loves going to Halloween Horror nights. She loves the scary mazes and the awesome scare zones they come up with. The Stranger Things maze has her really excited for this year's event.
Getting back to Harry Potter, Karissa's favorite Harry Potter film is the Goblet of Fire, mainly because of the Triwizard Tournament and the lovely Beauxbatons. Her favorite non-Potter films are A Walk to Remember and 10 Things I Hate About You. Those are two classics for her and always will be. She's mainly a RomCom fan as well as a Horror movie fanatic. Bridesmaids is a comedy that always cracks her up.
Karissa is also a huge Cinderella fan (she wanted to be her when she was little) but as far as Disney films go, Mulan and Pocahontas are her favorites.
Holidays. It's always important to know what a person's favorite holiday is. For Lisa and I, we are huge Halloween fans. For us it's a way of life, not just a holiday. So anyone that loves Halloween as much as we do is ok in our book. Karissa definitely loves Halloween and all things scary, but Christmas is her go to Holiday. It's very nostalgic for her.
"It always brings me feelings of joy and warmth of the memories of different family members (both present and those who have passed) who I've celebrated with over the years of my life. I LOVE lights so that's a plus, it's such a bright and happy time of year. I love love, quite simply and it really brings everyone together and so much love is shared. My love language is gift giving so it's also just a super fun time for me to give and speak my love language. My heart is so full seeing the ones I love open gifts that I got them. I really think it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit about Karissa. Scroll down to see more shots from this shoot. And if you have enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends and family. And stay tuned, we are shooting with this superstar again very, very soon which means another blog will be posted in the very near future.