In the harsh world of professional gymnastics, the vast majority can only dream of making it to the top. With barely 1% of all gymnasts ever competing at the elite level, by age 22, Sophina DeJesus had reached the elite level, competed on the U.S. national team, and went viral during her epic floor routine her senior year at UCLA. What does a 25-year-old retiree make of life after accomplishing this much so early? “I will always be a gymnast, but I also want to be known as much more than just the gymnast with blue hair who Whip'd and Nae Nae'd.”
Growing up, DeJesus' parents kept her busy, allowing her to explore varied interests and passions. “My mom made sure gymnastics wasn't the only thing I ever did. I knew once I was done, I was happy in a sense to move on to something else,” she says matter-of-factly. When confronted with the reality of leaving gymnastics behind, DeJesus has no regrets. “I feel like I served my purpose in a sense.”
Sophina the Diva
Now retired from the sport, DeJesus finds herself busier than ever. “I'm dibbling and dabbling in a lot of things, but I feel like that's what keeps me on my toes and active, fun, and energetic.” With a popular YouTube page, other blossoming social media pages, a role as a co-host on an up-and-coming Indie entertainment talk show, The Breakthrough, and a strong focus on dancing and acting, “Sophina the Diva” as she's called on YouTube, is showing no signs of slowing down. “I'm a nice diva. But I am a diva,” she laughs. Currently, on two Amazon Prime projects, her acting career is showing promise. She stars in the horror film, Be Our Guests, and appears in episodes of the miniseries Still Broke. Ultimately, this is just the beginning. “I want to have my own series,” she says.
Sophina the Influencer
With so much of her life shared online, the social media influencer works hard to keep it all in perspective. “It's important that people use it to benefit themselves,” she explains. “Sometimes, people get caught up in looking at other people's lives and thinking it's perfect. No one's life is perfect. You definitely have to be careful with that and mindful of that.” When necessary, DeJesus isn't afraid to take a break either. Once a month, she will pick a day or two to unplug completely. “You have to make sure you aren't on your phone every hour of every day because that can make your self-worth plummet.”
When it comes to her followers, she pays close attention to maintaining healthy relationships. “A lot of times I get really great DMs and those will make my day. It may be a child saying, 'You inspire me!'” she shares when reflecting on the power of social media. “Even if it's not gymnastics-related, I embrace my curly hair, and I embrace my freckles, and they need to see that.”
Half Puerto-Rican and half Black, DeJesus is proud of her dual identity, and this confidence is what many of her fans connect with her. Because so many young girls admire her, DeJesus does what she can to reach out and offer advice and guidance. “I do a little bit of motivational speaking at gymnastics clubs.” She also tries to cater to her YouTube channel to young gymnasts, sharing reflections and inspiration.
Making a Breakthrough
So wherein all of this does being a host of a talk show come into play? Hosting a talk show was never a part of DeJesus' plan but because she is open and up for any positive step forward, when the opportunity was presented to be a co-host on The Breakthrough, DeJesus obliged. “I never thought I would or wouldn't host a talk show, but I am definitely a big people person. I love talking, I love showing my personality, that's what I do on my YouTube, so to host a show feels like a great fit, and I enjoy doing it.”
Thank You MA'AM Productions, a woman-owned production company presents, The Breakthrough an internet television show starring host, indie artists Sophina De Jesus aka “Sophina The Diva” and Hanif Carter aka “BillionAir Carter.” The Breakthrough discusses trending indie topics, interviews indie artists both established and up and coming while going into the streets to discover what it means to be indie.
When asked what DeJesus enjoyed the most about being a talk show host, she replied, “I love hosting for various reasons, one reason being that I love that I can be myself, I love that I can meet people, I love that I can showcase other people's talents that can inspire the world and myself.” As an indie entertainer herself, DeJesus shared that traveling and meeting other artists was both encouraging and motivating as she reinvents herself.
So how does DeJesus remain stimulated to press toward her lofty goals? She reveals that she lives by the belief, “The best thing you can do is be yourself.” From there, however, she has found inspiration through Venus and Serena Williams. “Even though they're sports-oriented, I absolutely love where they came from and their work ethic.” She continues, “How their dad helped them reminds me of my mom, who is a big person in my life.” With acting, Issa Rae stands out. “[She] came up from a web series, and to see where she is now is inspiring.”
At that moment, DeJesus' phone begins chirping. “Oops! That's my water alarm.” She goes on to explain, “In the middle of the day, I get busy and forget about drinking water.” She also references her Apple Watch. “I just got it, and it tells me when to breathe since it can tell when I'm stressed or can't focus,” DeJesus admits her relationship to health and fitness has been a rollercoaster. Despite being an athlete for most of her life, she is just now finding balance. “No one loves every part of themselves, but you do need to learn to love yourself with all your flaws and imperfections,” she states. “It's a work in progress, but I'm definitely loving who I am and hopefully who I will be.” When she's lucky enough to enjoy some downtime, she definitely puts it to use. “When I have nothing on the calendar, I take the whole day to Swiffer my apartment and do laundry. Then I'll do face masks and teeth whitening.” As we begin to pack up, she looks off into the distance. “I also love the beach. It's therapeutic, and I'm a Cali girl, born and raised.”