Natalia Mallory is a singer, songwriter, choreographer and owner/artistic director of Mallory Academy of Dance. She has developed one of the most novel, loving and nurturing environments for young artists in Bakersfield.
As a Kern County native, an artist and a woman with Trinidadian roots, she has combined her love of culture and her family values to provide young artists with a safe space to build their skills and grow their confidence.
QUESTION: How have your life experiences made you the leader you are today?
ANSWER: My family, specifically my mom, has influenced who I am today, along with dancing my entire life and the hardships I’ve experienced. I’m grateful for what I have and want in my life. I’ve always felt that I’ve been called toward being futuristic and ahead of my time. Being true to myself at a young age and having the guidance of my family didn’t make me feel like I needed to be a follower of other people.
Q: What have the highlights and challenges been as a business owner?
A: The biggest highlight is the amount of lives I’m able to inspire and interact with on a daily basis. As a Black woman in Bakersfield, parents at my studio have shared that their families have experienced a different education and experience from me as someone with different life experiences than them. My experiences as a Black woman have helped my students have a unique way of finding out who they are as creative individuals. Another highlight for me is the ability I’ve had to create a community with like-hearted people.
A recent highlight in my personal career is being able to provide my students with job opportunities within the entertainment industry. This year I was able to have my choreography and students featured in the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and a Subaru commercial.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge that I’ve recently faced. It’s been a challenge navigating how to teach my community of students how to express their thoughts and feelings throughout a challenging year.
Another challenge has been balancing my personal life and career and making sure everyone at my studio still feels important at the same time. I always try to make sure I’m fulfilled and taking care of myself as well as making sure students still feel inspired.
Q: What advice can you offer women who are seeking to have their own business?
A: My advice would be to have a great team of people that you can trust. I’d also recommend being as educated and humble as possible. The more you don’t know gives you more room for lessons that you can take in and learn. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to be aware of every obstacle that can come my way so I can be prepared for it. My advice would be to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Q: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
A: I maintain a work/life balance by making my work include things that make me happy and work that I want to do. When I was younger, I tried to make things perfect for other people but now I prioritize making sure that what I do is in line with my life and what I want for myself. My work usually is a form of balance for myself. Creating, helping kids navigate art and everyday life, and making connections with people makes me happy. It fills me up in the same way that rest does.
Q: What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
A: I believe there’s a misconception about women’s ability to execute and lead properly. I believe women have an intuition no one else has. There are often stereotypes of women being emotional or being family-oriented, and those are seen as huge hurdles. These ideas others see as a woman’s biggest hurdles are what I think are our greatest superpowers, our ability to do so much and be so empathetic.
It's rare that men are asked to come to work a certain way but women are often faced with a certain standard of how to look, speak and operate in a business environment. As a woman in the business world, you have to remember who you are and where you’re going. That’s why having a strong team is so important. They remind you of who you are so you can continue to move forward. It’s important to be around people who uplift you.
Q: How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
A; Mentorship is needed for anyone who aspires to be great. It’s about passing the baton for your community to go further, moving society forward. A huge piece of life is using what you know to push yourself and others forward. I pride myself in knowing I’ve had the ability to be a mentor to great people throughout my life.
Being a mentor comes with holding yourself accountable and knowing the power of your actions and words. It comes with the responsibility of knowing God is working through you to reach others in the connections you make. My mom, Dawn Mallory, and sister, Sasha Mallory (who has danced and toured the world over the past decade with Madonna) helped me bring this type of mentorship to the studio and produce quality training and guidance to our students.
Mallory is currently working on her music and EP, traveling to Los Angeles to record songs for her upcoming project.
On Nov. 12 and 13, Mallory Academy of Dance will host a showcase to highlight their high school senior students. The studio will also be showcasing the talents of their student writers, choreographers, singers. Mallory Academy of Dance is located in Bakersfield at 13125 Rosedale Highway, Suite 101.
Stay connected with Mallory Academy of Dance:
Natalia Mallory: Natalianmallory@outlook.com