Hometown: Leamington, ON
Jessica is a proud Portuguese Canadian who was born and raised in Leamington, Ontario. She is a recent graduate of Vancouver Film School, having completed a one year intensive in Acting for Film and Television. Before studying on the West Coast, Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts Honours and Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. She has been an advocate of the Arts in her community and an educator since she was fifteen years old and first began teaching dance lessons at her local studio.
A seasoned dancer and choreographer, she has danced on The University of Toronto’s Varsity Dance team. A team filled with many of Toronto’s elite dancers. Jessica has always used her love for the arts in her volunteer and charity endeavours. By organizing and participating in various fundraising events over the past eight years. She believes in the impact and importance of extracurricular activities. Especially after seeing firsthand the life changing effects that they have had on herself and on her students.
Jessica is aware of her position as a role model to all of the younger girls that she teaches and takes it very seriously. She promotes the message that, “If you’re your authentic self, you have no competition.” Her goal is to continue inspiring these young women to think bigger and work hard while using a confident and compassionate approach. Her dream for her students and all young women in Canada would be, for them to have the support and awareness that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. She believes that if all teachers work to instill confidence and leadership skills in young women during their intermediate and senior years, it will aid in creating the next generation of educated and powerful women in Canada.
Jessica is a lover of languages, travelling, yoga and cooking. She is looking forward to meeting all of the other diverse delegates from across Canada and sharing the experience with them.
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Languages spoken fluently (please include your native language if English is not your native language).
English, Portuguese, Spanish.
What are your interests and what do you enjoy doing the most?
My main interests consist of dance, choreography and dramatic arts including both theatre and film. Participating in and teaching the arts has had a huge impact on my life. I also love to travel and experience different cultures and languages. I live by the saying that, ‘travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
List any special training you have had (music, art, drama, dance, etc.).
I have been dancing since I was three years old and competing since I was thirteen. I have taken class in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Modern and some Ballroom! I have been teaching dance since I was fifteen years old. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Education, Intermediate/ Senior(Grades 7-12) in Dramatic Arts, English and Dance. I just completed a One Year Intensive at Vancouver Film School in Acting for Film and Television.
In what sports, if any, have you participated?
When it comes to sports I have always loved and played soccer recreationally throughout my entire childhood and adolescence. My father set a great example for me when I was growing up by coaching many different soccer teams in our small community and also in the county. He dedicated so many hours of his time volunteering while partaking in his biggest passion.
Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?
Other than my parents, I would have to say that my high school Dramatic Arts and Dance teacher, Ms. Maggy Sonoski is one of the people that has had the most influence on my life and the paths I have chosen. I know this because I am a teacher myself. However, Ms. Sonoski was not only a teacher for me. She has been a friend, mentor, life coach and most importantly she was an honest and supportive adult in my formative years. Her faith in my abilities as a leader and artist when I was a fourteen year old girl made me the confident leader and woman that I am today. She helped to instill a wonderful work ethic in me and truly helped bring out my most creative side by encouraging me to choreograph. She is such an inspiration because she teaches students from beginners to advanced levels with great patience. She shows adolescent girls how to carry themselves with grace, class and confidence. I must say she has changed the lives of hundreds of her students and is the type of teacher that students remember throughout their entire lives.
What is your proudest personal accomplishment (other than participating in this pageant)?
My proudest accomplishment to date would be going back to school after completing two degrees. I moved across this beautiful country to Vancouver, British Columbia, a place I had never been and completed a one year program. I had always dreamed of going to Film School and after finishing two University degrees and joining the work force, I took the path less travelled and decided to take the leap and go back to school. Nothing was harder than leaving my family, friends and job that I loved, to move to a place I had never been in order to complete this life long goal. Many people said that I could not do it and I didn’t let the noise of other people drown out my inner voice. It has been the hardest move I have ever made and I miss home and Toronto more than I could have predicted. However, I am so happy that I will never say, “I wish I would have…”
What is the most interesting or unique thing that has ever happened to you and/or what is the most interesting thing about you?
One of the most interesting or unique things that has ever happened to me quite unexpectedly, is that over the past four years I have worked for almost all of the biggest sports teams in Canada. I had the opportunity to work for the Toronto Blue Jays in the MLB, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks in the NHL, TFC-Toronto Football Club and Vancouver WhiteCaps FC in the MLS, the Toronto Raptors in the NBA and the Toronto Argonauts and BC Lions in the CFL.
What is your career ambition and what are you doing or plan to do to accomplish that goal?
My career ambition or my ultimate goal would be to act professionally and be a well respected actor in film and television while teaching at a school of the arts. I worked hard to complete two programs in order to make this happen. I attended Teachers College in Toronto and Film School in Vancouver. I plan to continue learning and growing by continually taking classes and staying up to date, in order to accomplish my goals. I believe that in both acting and teaching the learning is never really complete. I think that the most successful people are focused on their goals and persevere to achieve them while being grateful for every opportunity that comes their way.
What would be your “dream job” in life?
My dream job in life would be to become a professional actor and choreographer who is consistently working. I would also like to be a teacher at the best arts school in the world, always surrounded by inspiration and art. I don’t necessarily think that everyone’s dream job exists, they have to create it.
Are you currently a student?
No, I recently completed my program a few months ago.
If yes, where?
Area of study:
Teaching, Dramatic Arts (Film/Theatre), English and Dance.
Are you currently employed?
Currently I work for the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition I have an agent and I am currently auditioning. I am also teaching private dance lessons.
If yes, what is your occupation?
I manage the VIP Suites for Aquilini Sports and Entertainment Group.
Describe where you were raised and what your childhood was like.
I was raised in the beautiful town of Leamington, Ontario. Leamington is known as the ‘Tomato Capital of Canada’. This small but charming town has the national treasure ‘Pointe Pelee National Park’, which contains the most southern tip of Canada. We are known as the leader in green house growing and our amazing produce that feeds many all across Canada! I am very proud of where I come from and overwhelmed by the support from my small but mighty community.
I come from a big, loud, European family that surrounded me with love and support. I grew up living with my two wonderful parents, my younger brother and my grandmother. I feel lucky enough to say that my grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle were a huge part of my childhood and still such a strong presence in my life today. My Aunt and Uncle were like a second set of parents and my first cousins were more like siblings. I have a large extended family that I am very close with and over a dozen younger cousins who have changed my life in ways that are indescribable. Watching them grow up and being such a strong and influential presence in their lives has been amazing. Having a big family has truly defined me and the person I am today.
List any interesting or unusual jobs you may have had.
My most interesting job was working in the Suites at Rogers Centre in Toronto. I got to attend and work all 88 of the home Blue Jay Games and met the best and most interesting groups of people. When I first started working there I knew nothing about baseball and now I know most of the rules and I enjoy watching the sport! Aside from baseball I also got to work with the Toronto Argonauts CFL staff and the staff of the Buffalo Bills NFL team when they came to promote NFL in Canada. I met wonderful people and it truly was such an extraordinary experience, that held different and unique challenges each day.
List any volunteering you have done.
I have constantly dedicated my time as a dance teacher and organizer to raise money for many different charities over the past eight years. Some include:
- Brock University’s Largest On Campus Organization: Brock Dance
- Vice President 2010 -President 2011
- Hip Hop Teacher 2008-2011
- Miss Leamington Scholarship Pageant 2008-2014 -Dance Instructor/Choreographer/Trainer -Interview Coach
- Mentor for Charity endeavours
- S.O.S Children’s Villages 2009
- Raise The Rhythm (Fashion/Dance Charity Event) 2012 -International Women’s Day Fashion Show Charity Event 2014
- CIBC Run for the Cure 2014
What is your most unusual talent?
The most unusual talent that I have would be, when I first meet someone and I ask them a series of questions, I can guess their birthdate. I guess two exact dates in the calendar year and usually I’m within two weeks of their birthday. I have guessed the exact date or just a couple days off multiple times in the past. I do this by using my refined skills of being a ‘people person’ and the fact that I can memorize the birthdays of most people in my life.
Where is the most interesting place you have been to?
The Dominican Republic, in 2009 I had the opportunity to compete in ‘Miss Ambar World’, an International pageant. I got to experience the different culture
between Santo Domingo the capital city and Punta Cana. I shared the experience with over 40 women from all over the world! We were able to help out at various charity events throughout the two weeks and meet many different people from the host country. I fell in love with the culture, local customs and traditional cuisine. We had so many wonderful opportunities from meeting dignitaries at the National Palace to experiencing the beautiful outdoors.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years?
In ten years I hope to be living a life that I am proud of. I hope to be acting, teaching, travelling and spending time with my family. I want to be leader in my community like my family has been in our community of Leamington, through their volunteer work. In ten years I hope to be inspiring, volunteering and helping others whenever I have the chance.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?
I believe in the immense power of words and how stories and quotes can truly inspire people. Erica Cook said, “I’m not interested in competing with anyone, I hope we all make it.” This is a quote that has always truly resonated with me. I feel as though this quote relates perfectly to this pageant and the intelligent, driven women competing in it. If we all combine our efforts for humanitarian work and we all create different goals to live out in our potential year as Miss Universe Canada. No matter who the winner is, each woman can make the next year an amazing one. A year where every delegate lives out their dreams of making a difference and representing the organization in their own unique ways!