Broadway’s Victor Sho: the backpack performer gives a look into the spotlight

By El’excia Allen

Broadway's Victor Sho advocates a healthy lifestyle saying your body is your "instrument."

Broadway’s Victor Sho advocates a healthy lifestyle saying your body is your “instrument.”

Victor Sho is a man of many accomplishments: he dances, acts, models, teaches and works with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. With five siblings, he’s also a committed family man. He’s worked with Madonna, Nicki Minaj,  and Jennifer Lopez, among others.

Sho’s latest project involved signing a deal to dance for L’Oreal, working with renowned choreographers “NappyTabs” Napoleon and Tabitha.

How does this 29-year-old manage to gather the confidence to model on a 70-foot runway and dance with some of the most famous entertainers on the globe?

In a recent interview, Victor shared how he became not only a successful performer, but a world-class multitasker too.

Jobs in the Industry

Victor has worked with many big names such as Nicki Minaj, MIA, Madonna, Nappytabs, and Jennifer Lopez. They have helped him build his career to be what it is today. Victor has had a lot of exposure in the industry. One exciting experience that helped Victor gain notoriety was when he worked on Madonna’s comeback video alongside Nicki Minaj and MIA. “It started off as a really exciting experience for me personally because not only was it a Madonna video but that I’d be getting that exposure,” he said.

Victor’s previous experiences, such as modeling on a 70-foot runway with up to 3,000 people watching, helped him feel confident and comfortable working with celebrities like Madonna.  “I’ve had lots and lots of experiences before Madonna, even before dance,” Victor said. “When it came to dance it was actually a lot easier for me to perform without having any real nervousness.”

Recently Victor booked a milestone job that he can now cross off his bucket list. He is working with Jennifer Lopez and Nappytabs in a L’Oreal commercial. Going into it he thought it would just be a national or local commercial but to his surprise, it’s worldwide! Nappytabs is actually a pair of choreographers, Napoleon and Tabitha,  from the show So You Think You Can Dance. “Oh my God, they were amazing!” Victor said. He was especially interested to learn that Napoleon had gone to school for science and then moved into the arts industry. Victor has a similar story. He went to school for pre-med biology and then moved into the world of arts.

Living the New York dream is work, not just play. A challenge that Victor faces in the industry is balancing between jobs that pay well and jobs that improve your credibility. For example Victor was on tour last year with “50 Shades! The Musical Parody.” He explained how that was a job he did to get his name out there and not necessarily for the amount of money he was getting paid for it.

“I do have to pick and choose which job could help out my career in terms of boosting up my experience and my credibility as opposed to some jobs that pays more but nothing for your career,” Victor said.

The Importance of Self-Care

Victor emphasizes how important “self care” is in dance, acting, and modeling. He describes your body as an “instrument.” If you damage it then you cannot work.

“A lot of times people want to party,  smoke, or drink, and doing all these things to your body which is killing your instrument,” he said. “It’s all about long term thinking of what can happen to your instrument with any outcome of a situation.”

Victor has learned to take care of himself first, which then empowers him to help others. “From what I’ve learned through my experiences is that you can’t help someone else out if you can’t help yourself,” he said. “Do for you before anybody and it’s not where you’re being selfish it’s where you have to have an understanding for self-care.”

Having self-care is something not just an important quality to have in the arts but also generally in everyday life. Loving, respecting, taking care of your mind and body is something that is such an important quality to have to just be happy with yourself and even other people.

“You have to take care of you, your mind, your body, and you can’t just continue to work, work, work because then you’re going to lose the quality of life,” Victor said.

Working all the time is something that can’t be done, but also partying and going out all the time is not reasonable for pursuing a career, in any industry.  You have to work and make sacrifices for some things, it is not just all fun and games because eventually you do need to work. Self-care also includes how you understand your body.  Every little mark, size, curve is important in an industry revolving around the arts. To know how your body works you have to experience it and discover things you never paid attention to before.

Victor talked about how he used to just stand in front of the mirror and do different facial expressions from different angles, different profiles when modeling. This kind of stuff is important because you need to know how you will look on the runway, or in a photo. He says, “You have to understand your body, how your body looks at certain angles, how to angle your body to look curvier and appear in real life, on camera.”

Networking and Connections

Networking is an asset to any career path, but in the arts you are likely to meet people you might end up working with in the future. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone you may know really well or even not that well for a little guidance and some help. Victor has used these connections in his own life. “You can’t go anywhere if you don’t network. Those who are successful are the ones that are the most persistent, whether or not they suck, in any field they are in doesn’t matter,”  he said. “People with no talent get far and people with amazing talent get far but don’t last without persistence.  Persistence is all that matters and applying yourself is all that matters. It’s key.”

Both in person and via social media, Victor notices people who have the same interests as him. He said, “If I see someone post videos of them stepping I follow them because I might want to see more, if it’s a choreographer in the industry I’ll follow them because maybe they have some fast leading pictures or videos of the work they do. Or maybe they have a lot of mutual friends. Connections and networking is what works in this industry.”

Family Life

Growing up in the heart of hip hop, the Bronx, since the age of two, Victor’s mom was the consistent parent in his life.  Victor confessed that his dad wasn’t around much after 1992. His uncle became the male role model who was Victor’s father figure. Victor grew up with five other siblings which was overwhelming at times for his single mom.  His uncle helping out and made their lives a little easier.  Victor became a success despite the complicated background he came from including being raised by a single Mom with many responsibilities.  He worked hard to make something big out of his life stating, “I’m big on family and I definitely try to create time for spending time with my family and time for myself and my girlfriend,” he said, “ and that’s all a challenge.”

Coming from a Nigerian background, education was always a big part of Victor’s life.  When he started dancing in a dance crew called 7-3-0 he just thought it was something fun for him to enjoy during college, he never expected something big to come out of it. “Science and math were always my thing. So becoming a doctor was always something I wanted to be from childhood. When I started 7-3-0 I was still in college and I was getting my undergrad for pre-med biology,” he said. Victor explained how coming from an African family that emphasized higher education, the arts was never a career that he even considered.

When Victor told his family he was first signed to Flair, a dance company, they were heartbroken. They had hoped for him to go to school for science. Dancing wasn’t something his mom and uncle considered a suitable career; they were not happy at all. “They gave me a lot of hardship but eventually when they realized how serious I was taking it and how I applied myself, because suddenly I was doing some pretty good work, they eased off more and more and now they are my biggest supporters and eventually they came full circle,” he said. 

Sho is not afraid to take on modeling projects into his hectic lifestyle.

Sho is not afraid to take on modeling projects into his hectic lifestyle.

Applying Confidence

For people who want to pursue a career in the arts and any other individual career, training is needed. You have to pursue everything you want like it’s a career, not just fun and games. Applying yourself and having confidence also plays a huge factor whether it’s for dance, art, modeling, or becoming a scientist..

“In this industry you have to apply yourself, and have confidence with the knowledge of what you’re going into. Too many times, especially dancers, they have so much talent and can do all these tricks, street dancers, a lot of times they have all this rare extreme talent but they don’t have an understanding for the business. So their business remains in the street, where as a trained dancer in ballet or hip hop has an understanding of the business because they apply themselves to understand that,” Victor said, adding, “Even though it may seem like small things, the small things add up to being in a business.”

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