Uploaded by DS2DIO on 05.10.2012

GALEN HOOKS: Known to some as the queen of swag, Jamaica Craft is the choreographer behind
some of the most iconic music videos ever to be captured on camera. Once nominated for
best choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards twice in the same year, she’s created ground
breaking work for artists including Usher, Ne-Yo, Akon, Ciara, Missy Elliott and Keri Hilson.
She’s the woman behind the move in Ciara’s Like a Boy, Promise and Ride
as well as Justin Bieber’s video for Baby. And we are honored to have her in our studio today.
I’m your host Galen Hooks. Jamaica, thanks for being here.
JAMAICA CRAFT: Thank you for having me.
GALEN HOOKS: I’m really happy to talk to you.
JAMAICA CRAFT: Oh lord (LAUGHS). GALEN HOOKS: Well I’m glad that you’re
talking to me because you don’t talk to anybody. You never do interviews, you’re
so under the radar. I’m lucky enough to know you personally, but for everybody else
you are quite the mystery. I mean you don’t live in LA, you don’t teach, you have…can
count on one hand the number of times you’ve held an audition for dancers. You are like
the definition of under the radar. What was your childhood like?
JAMAICA CRAFT: I was cool. Um my mom couldn’t…didn’t find out I could dance till I was in high
school at like a talent show. And she was like I didn’t even know you could dance.
I was like oh yeah, I’ve been dancing. Dancing and entertainment has always just been a part
of me via taping Arsenio Hall, any video that came on, I have video tapes galore of all
performances and performers I said I wanna work with one day, I wanna work with one day,
mom. And she’s like I just don’t know how you’re gonna do that.
GALEN HOOKS: How did you.
JAMAICA CRAFT: Well we went, me and my friend went to Atlanta to a party and my parents
didn’t know. On our way back, cause we had spent all our money on the radio it was like
auditions for TLC. And my friend was like girl, you can dance. She was like you supposed
to be in TLC. She thought I was a a secret member. So we turned around and then I had
to call my mom and tell her um hey mom, can you um get the hotel for us because, and she’s
like you in Atlanta? I was, why are you even in Atlanta. I was like we’ll deal with that
later, I gotta do this audition. The guy who was teaching the routine for the choreographer,
Aakomon Jones was teaching it. And he’s such a smooth dancer and I was just like
I got his flavor but I just couldn’t remember the steps.
GALEN HOOKS: Oh my gosh.
JAMAICA CRAFT: And I walked off the dance
floor and I remember this girl was like oh my God, you, you’re not gonna get chosen,
you walked off. I went outside and I didn’t even know…understand like numbers, you know
people calling. And they was like could Jamaica Craft come back in. I said now what kind of
thing is this that they call you in to tell you that you ain’t get the job. That is
so mean. So I come back in and he was like, and Devine Stevens was the choreographer and
he was like would you like to dance for TLC? And I dropped to my knees. I said lord thank
you, oh my God. Am I gonna get the job? And then TLC said to me, they were like out of
everybody you are it, you you have what we have and we get on…we get to working with
this routine you gonna be it. And I love that they believed in me. I love that Devine believed
in me that I could get the routine.
GALEN HOOKS: That’s a really good story.
GALEN HOOKS: So when did choreography start to come in the picture?
JAMAICA CRAFT: Choreography has always been there. It always started small. 3LW, can you
do our breakdown, our dance breakdown? And I’m okay. Then their next album, can you
be our choreographer and so on and so on. Can you do this? And it’s always been ah
Jamaica, give us your energy.
GALEN HOOKS: Do you miss performing at
JAMAICA CRAFT: Ooooh, I get asked that
a lot. Oh and I think I’m taking so long to answer it because I don’t wanna let anyone
down, but no. I love being in the background. I love coming up with the idea, creating it,
giving it to you, sitting back and watching what people say. Oh my God. I love being on
stage, don’t get me wrong. If a choreographer has been on stage, oooh, because you know
how to, you know what the crowd is looking like when they love you, when they don’t
like you or when you’re trying to woo them to like you. Or you know it’s like you gotta
know what that feels like and then for someone to love you for what you’re doing up
there because that’s a that’s a intimate moment when the crowd is watching you
perform and they are engulfed in you, because that’s their moment of not thinking about
what’s going on in their life. They’re thinking about what you’re making them feel
like. That’s that’s timeless. That’s timeless. So it’s hard for me to say no
I don’t miss bussin' up there, but I’m loving this new journey of bussin'
behind the scenes. Like I’m loving it. I’m loving, I’m loving seeing what it does to
people. I’m loving to see how it changes that person that is being put on, like to
watch them go through that journey.
GALEN HOOKS: As a choreographer I mean you’ve reached a huge level of success and then
you said you wanted to be a boutique choreographer, right?
GALEN HOOKS: Tell me about that?
JAMAICA CRAFT: I learned half way through, everyone was telling me, oh Jamaica you need
to be doing this, you need to be doing that. And it was almost like I needed to be this
this choreographer to the masses. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.
I found that that just didn’t work for me. My work suffered, it suffered passion, it
suffered that intimate thing that we have. It’s because I’m just trying to get you
the work and I’m trying to move on. I learned I wasn’t great at that. But if I’m that
boutique, and not everybody knows about it, but if you know know about it you’re supposed
to be in the shop.
GALEN HOOKS: Interesting.
JAMAICA CRAFT: There’s only probably one of a kind in this boutique. I think that’s…

JAMAICA CRAFT: …that’s who I am and that’s who I try to give to every artist or any job
that I’m on, let it not be an artist or if it’s just I’m doing a choreography
job. I wanna make sure that you’re getting something special.
GALEN HOOKS: I’ve known you for a while and in the past few years there’s been a
definite shift in your values. When I first met you and was working with you you wouldn’t
eat all day and I had to constantly be like, Jamaica, you need some vegetables.
GALEN HOOKS: Stop eating just sugar and cheese…
GALEN HOOKS: …and chips. You weren’t really taking care of your body, you were over working
yourself and then there was a shift and you, I remember you saying you’re not working
on Sundays anymore and you were trying to eat properly and there was all this great
stuff that was happening. What what was the low point that made you make that shift?
JAMAICA CRAFT: Um, and this is, oh whooo, this is personal. Um my body started changing.
I had gained a lot of weight and I was losing confidence and it became a health problem.
I became very stressful, losing hair, like it it got serious. So it’s kind of something
that I had to do. And I first had to look at myself and go okay, so what’s wrong with
this picture. And the problem was I wasn’t taking any time for Jamaica. Any time I answered
the phone or I looked at an email it had something to do, yes it was about work, but it was something
to do about somebody else. And I always was having to think about somebody else and not
think about myself. So on Sundays that’s my day. Don’t call me, this is not a work
day. There’s a lot of businesses closed on this day, so consider me one of them. Whatever
we need to talk about we can do it first thing on Monday morning. And then me not eating,
well you know I had to realize I’m not fifteen no more. I’m now twenty two, ach, I have
to watch what I eat. And it was it was just like a for real thing. Like my hands had started
turning black and it was a health problem. And sometimes we think it’s just what you
eat, it's not resting, it’s being on a plane all the time, it’s just not properly taking
care of yourself. And I’m like okay, so if you need, if you wanna be here, Jamaica,
to really accomplish everything you wanna accomplish, you gotta make sure you’re healthy
so I can start feeling better and so I can start being happy again in what I love to
GALEN HOOKS: Did you ever feel like you just wanted to quit?
JAMAICA CRAFT: Girl, yeah. Every time I do a video I said it’s my last one, and that’s
what (LAUGHS).
GALEN HOOKS: What makes you keep going then?
JAMAICA CRAFT: The ideas and the artists and the new ideas and the new, every time it’s
like oh, we could kill them on this one. We could kill em, we could kill em. So and I’m
always like how did I get back here. How did I get back here?
GALEN HOOKS: But you love it.
JAMAICA CRAFT: I, no, I adore it.
GALEN HOOKS: Well I can tell how much you care about dance and you love dance and I’m
loving talking to you but I wanna round out this interview by asking you what do you love
about dance?
JAMAICA CRAFT: How it makes people feel, um how it makes me feel. You notice when you go
around people always say, if they find out you’re a dancer they go I wish I could dance
or I just love watching dancing. That’s what dancing does to people. It just gives
them an incredible feeling and I just, I love that.
GALEN HOOKS: Thank you, Jamaica.
JAMAICA CRAFT: Oh thank you, Galen.
GALEN HOOKS: I’m so happy we got to talk.
JAMAICA CRAFT: You you’re you’re you’re one of my kids, you’re on of my babies.
This is like a cool opportunity to see you.
GALEN HOOKS: Well you gave me a lot of
opportunities and you’ve always believed in me and that I will never take for granted, ever.
JAMAICA CRAFT: You know dusting off the dinosaur.
GALEN HOOKS: (LAUGHS) Thank you for being here.
JAMAICA CRAFT: Oh thank you, thank you for having me.
GALEN HOOKS: Thank you guys for watching. As always we would love to hear what you have
to say. You can post your comments and questions below and we’ll see you next time. Thanks
for watching. Bye.