[Originally published in DTM Magazine Issue #23; Nov 2005]
Born in the Dominican Republic, Julissa Bermudez is the new shining star for BET and Hispanics everywhere as the network’s first Latina host.
As the youngest and only girl of four siblings, she has always striven for individuality and attention. She knew at an early age that she wanted to be in the spotlight and entertain. “She (her mother) always inspired me to be creative in some way and always told me to keep focused and grounded in order to get whatever it is I want to accomplish. I never thought I was going to be on TV as a host,” said Bermudez. With the support of her close-knit family, especially her free-spirited mother, she has finally achieved her goal.
Raised in the culturally diverse Queens, she attended Talent Unlimited High School as a theater major and went to college briefly until the opportunity to become a VJ came knocking on her door. “She (her manager) was sending me on a bunch of auditions and one of them was for ‘The Roof.’ I was doing a bunch of commercial work and modeling before that and at first I was actually a little hesitant because I was like, okay, well, a host what does that mean, you’re going to pay me to be myself, sure, why not?” she said. After 14 months, Julissa decided that it was time to branch out and see what else was out there, so she came back to New York on leave from “The Roof,” which is based in sunny Miami, Florida.
It was while searching for the clothing ad she did with Ecko Red in a magazine that she stumbled onto an article about Free of BET’s “106 & Park.” That very moment, Bermudez took the initiative and called her agent demanding that she send over a press kit and her audition tapes to the network, later landing her a position as the host filling in for A.J. & Free, whom she spoke highly of, “I think they decided to venture off and do their own thing, and I wish them nothing but the best because they’re both very talented,” said Julissa. While hosting “106 & Park,” she has interviewed talented professionals in the industry such as Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z, and Daddy Yankee; she also counts down the top videos of the day. Her favorite music artists range from Juan Luis Guerra, Daddy Yankee, Tito “El Bambino,” Luny Tunes, Ivy Queen, Kanye West, and Kelly Clarkson. She is also the correspondent on BET’s “The Center.”
Super model, VJ, and now actress, Bermudez has become a triple threat. MTV recently showcased Bermudez in a cameo in their new film, “Rumble.” She will also be starring in “Harlem Hostel,” her first independent film, scheduled for release in 2006. Her future cosmetic line is also something to keep in mind.
Julissa has paved the way for future Latinas to rise to stardom. “There weren’t many girls that I could say that about when I was growing up watching TV and, yeah, that was a big deal to me when I first got into this and saw people’s reaction,” she said. As a strong, independent Dominican woman, she serves as an exemplary role model for all Hispanics; joining the ranks of women such as Kelly Ripa and Jennifer Lopez, whom she looked up to as her role models. “When you think of Latinas, you automatically assume that I’m Mexican or Puerto Rican; there is nothing wrong with that but I want to be proud to say that I’m Dominican and want to let people know that there is a difference. We have different traditions within our cultures.”
Her advice for the upcoming stars of tomorrow: “I would just say to always be as prepared as possible and be patient. Just as long as you know that you’re taking the right steps and studying and working hard to where you have to get to, eventually you’ll get there. But definitely have patience and professionalism with it along the way ’cause that’ll take you a lot further. That’s something that I can attest to myself, and taking the initiative at times too.”