Tuesday, May 2, 2017


"My high school music teacher said that I wasn't enough," Jessica told me in a crowded Kensington Market café. We had just finished an hour of shooting photos around the neighbourhood and sat down to talk.

By the way, if you're looking at the photos thinking that the saxophone is just a flashy prop, it's not. Jessica is a talented musician and the saxophone is her creative outlet. It's also a hurtful reminder of her past.

It happened near the end of her senior high school year. She arrived with her saxophone to play for her final music exam. After her performance, her teacher approached her and would abruptly change her life with a few simple words and gestures. "It wasn't even really what he said," She explains. "It was the way he looked at me and shook his head. I didn't understand why he said what he said, but I knew enough to quit music."

Before that day, she had planned on pursuing music in her college years, but that didn't happen.

Instead, she chose to go to theatre school, where she eventually regained her confidence to express herself artistically. After five years, she picked up her sax for the first time and started playing again. Now, she wishes she could go back and share her words of wisdom with her younger and disheartened self. "I would hug [myself] and say, 'Take your time. Be patient. What's hard now won't last forever.'"

We don't always remember the words that people say to hurt us; however, we do remember how they made us feel. That's certainly the case with Jessica who shared her feelings with the utmost clarity. I asked her why she feels her teacher failed her as a mentor and she responded decisively.  "I think [he] was afraid of me and my potential. I don't think he could handle seeing a fierce, young woman -- especially a woman of colour. Looking back now, I know that I was a force to be reckon with in high school, but I didn't know that at the time. I definitely know that now."

Thanks to the support of the Latin theatre community, Jessica found the strength and courage to not allow anybody to get in the way of her dreams.

More importantly, she's happier now that she's assertive and has taken control of her life. "I've walked away from my abusive relationships and I've learned to accept the things that I can't change. That's my process. It's why I continue to find successes and blessings in my life."

Jessica's street style was previously featured last fall.

Follow Jessica on Instagram.