TheVIPPReport: Louisville’s own dancer/model/actress Jhana Waddell making a name for herself in the entertainment industry

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 ABC Louisville

Courtesy Jhana Waddell

A rising star in the entertainment realm is backing up some of the biggest entertainers in 2022. Louisville native Jhana Waddell is showing up in music videos and live shows like Beyonce’s Academy Awards performance at the open of the show to performing with Mary J. Blige at the halftime of the Super Bowl 56.

I’ve been staying in touch with Jhana since I’ve learned of her great success. I spoke to her just days after the Super Bowl in February and she was still on a high after the performance and how it was a surprise to everyone but her parents. Jhana says “It was no secret.  I told them. (laughing) They were beyond supportive and they love Mary J. Blige. They know as me being a professional dancer this is a big deal.  So, everybody was getting calls the weeks leading up till asking are you ready, are ready, are you ready. Yes guys I’m so ready. I’m so excited It was all super exciting.” 

Jhana grew up in the Park Duvalle and Shawnee neighborhoods attending YPAS,(Youth Performing Arts School), Spelman, a HBCU and then finishing at the University of Louisville.  The professional dancer whose trained in ballet, modern, dance and tap currently lives in L.A. took me through how she was chosen to perform with the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. 

Jhana says “We have auditions out here. I have an agent. The agent relays that there’s an audition. You’ve been selected here’s the time, here’s the location. So you come with your best hair and makeup. Come with your best self ready to perform. So you learn the step. You perform in front of the choreographer. If they like you they let your agent know. Hey we want to use them. This will be the days of rehearsal and day of the show.”

Courtesy Jhana Waddell

During big productions normally the artist or host normally has a fill-in to stand in for them so they don’t have to be there all day. I asked did Mary J ever practice with her? She says “Yeah, not very surprising. It was fun you know. It showed that her as an artist she too wanted to make sure it looks good and felt right. So, we practiced with her and stand ins.  She was there a lot.  So, I’m off her left shoulder which when you look at the video I’m on the right. I’m the second on the right. Um but yeah. it was so fun.”

I asked her to explain the feeling when she knew it was showtime.  Jhana tells me “It’s so indescribable the breathe of everybody when you walk into the stadium and it’s just full and packed with people. It’s a pandemic so I haven’t seen that many people in so long.  I felt like tears of joy and my smile immediately came out. I’m so happy this is just a big experience.  Here we go. We’re about to do it.”

She’s no stranger for big moments. She’s performed at many of the biggest music award shows with Selena Gomez to Bruno Mars and touring with Lil Baby and Future.  She has some exciting news she hopes to share with us soon.

She gave some advice if you want to be in the same field.  She said to trust yourself, follow your heart, be consistent, know your craft and research where you want to move were just a few of the positive words of encouragement she gave.   

►Contact WHAS11’s Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. 

To see the television version to this story just click the link: https://www.whas11.com/video/entertainment/television/programs/the411/the-411-louisville-native-opens-up-about-super-bowl-performance/417-bccc1974-a671-44bc-978f-a2e71ddfa889

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