We caught up with Katrina Amato in between dance, choreography, acting and modeling jobs and asked her to share some of her outlook on life. She inspired us and reminded us how important it is to be true to our authentic selves.
KJ: You’re an accomplished dancer, choreographer, model, teacher… the list goes on! You’ve worked hard to get where you are. What is the best advice you’ve received regarding professional or personal fulfillment? (or both!)
KA: Over the years, I’ve absorbed so much good advice from many people and have realized that there’s always something new to learn, no matter the situation. Someone once pointed out that there’s always someone else out there who admires you and wishes they were more like you. The lesson is to remember to never devalue what you’ve accomplished because there are others who admire the path you’re on. It’s a great reminder, especially on dark days.
KJ: That’s a great point, especially in a world where we are often consumed by social media and the fabulous lives that everyone else seems to be leading.
KA: Social media can be really amazing and also really harsh, depending on how you use it and on your state of mind in that moment. My strategy is to surround myself with people whom I admire and who inspire me to be a better person. We have to remember that everyone displays only the best, most amazing moments in their lives. They make you THINK that incredible things are happening to them all the time, but it can be a mirage. The danger is letting yourself believe that you’re the only one who’s not good enough, who’s having a bad day, or who’s not accomplishing enough. It's just not true.
KJ: What advice would you offer others about pursuing their passions?
KA: Be honest with yourself about what really fulfills you. Don’t be afraid to go after it even if everyone tells you you’re crazy. It’s not an easy road, but if you’re passionate, you will always find a way to get going and keep moving.
KJ: What about dance specifically?
KA: Don’t take it so seriously all the time. Have fun with it. Whenever I allow myself to be me and to just enjoy the audition, rehearsal, or job, I always come out on top. When I allow others to see who I really am, they always respond. When I try to fit myself into a pre-determined mold, it rarely works out.
KJ: You’re not only a professional dancer, but you also make time to share your wisdom. What does teaching dance mean to you?
KA: Dance has always been a big part of my life. It’s how I've learned to express myself and it has helped me through many life experiences, both good and difficult. I’m happy to work in a space right now where we teach dance to anyone who’s interested, not just professionals. It’s rewarding to be able to give people a feel for what it's like to let go and to get in touch with their own bodies. I especially love teaching little cues and tips that get students out of their heads so they can pick up the choreography faster. I love to see people marvel in their own abilities.
KJ: Why is it important to you to have an impact on women’s lives and to show them how to recognize their own inner potential?
KA: Over the years, I've felt that I may have had a bad influence on women because I was a part of the false reality that modeling portrayed. Most of the imagery and advertisements make women feel like they aren’t enough. Ironically, as the model, I never felt like I was good enough. It wasn't until I went through my own eating disorder while struggling to fit the traditional "model" mold that I realized I was denying who I really am. I grew depressed and unhappy and started admiring those around me who were unapologetic for who they were. Those people did what they wanted and had an attractive energy and light about them. Finally, I decided I was going to do that myself. Once I made that decision, I was able to attract more meaning and authenticity into my life, including modeling jobs that allowed me to truly be myself. Others started to notice the positive change in me, both physically and mentally, and pretty soon people were reaching out to me for advice and mentorship.
KJ: That’s a really powerful message and for many of us, it can be pretty hard to challenge the status quo like that.
KA: This is why I find KYLA JOY appealing. Here is an opportunity to remind women that who they are is enough. No one else can duplicate your own individual authentic self, so why try to be someone else? People really gravitate towards that message. I love that KYLA JOY is a platform to communicate what REAL beauty is.
KJ: What people, moments or adventures have helped define (and refine) your outlook on life?
KA: My dad is a politician and has always strived to make positive changes in the community. I definitely get my drive from him and I also want to be able to make a difference in any way possible.
My mom has been there for me through everything and has always been completely supportive. When I said I wanted to go to college on the other side of the country, she said, “Ok, let’s figure out how to do it.” I can always count on her to be objective and unbiased. She gives me great insight and advice, but ultimately knows that each decision is mine and mine alone, but she always stands by it. She has allowed me to “be in it” and to learn for myself.
Susan McLain, one of my college dance professors, had a major impact on me as well. In one class, she asked, “Are you the baby of the family?” When I said yes, she explained, “That makes sense – you never had to be the goofy one, the one to make silly faces and entertain. You always had your sister to do it for you." What she meant was that it was ok to put myself out there, to mess up, and be silly. I had never thought of it that way before, but it made perfect sense. Even now, I think of her and then think “go for it!"
KJ: What are 5 words that describe who you are?
KA: Caring, focused, honest, ambitious, curious
KJ: What are your favorite ways to recharge and to take time for yourself?
KA: I love to travel and explore. I think the most calming place I’ve ever been is Santorini, Greece. Just being able to sit and stare at the water was incredibly relaxing and centering. I also try to meditate, take time to sleep, eat right and take breaks. Breaks can be tricky, but they are so important!
KJ: What kinds of things stimulate your creativity or inspire you?
KA: I like to paint, especially when I need to think differently or not think at all. I’m intrigued with visual movement, so most of my paintings tend to be movement related and abstract in nature. Any kind of artistic expression that gets me out of my head, even if it’s visiting a museum to see the work of others, stimulates my creativity.
KJ: What kinds of things are you curious about?
KA: It’s a long list, but I always come back to re-evaluating where I’m at and making sure it’s a path that’s honest and leading me to where I want to be. And often that destination is changing as well. I am always considering the meaning of life. Why are we here and what are we supposed to be doing? And I’m always trying to find my purpose in the moment. I have to tell myself to relax and just be present… when I relax, it unfolds itself.
KJ: What does KYLA JOY mean to you? Why are you drawn to it?
KA: Joe wanted to create a business that his young daughter would look up to and be inspired by. Having a brand that inspires women to be themselves, and brings those women together is amazing. It’s refreshing to see a company focused on those values, encouraging women to express themselves authentically. To that end, KYLA JOY handbags are great staple pieces that people can easily make their own. The pieces are not a KYLA JOY statement, but become a woman’s own personal statement. It’s about how each woman chooses to use her KYLA JOY bag as part of her own individual, authentic life. KYLA JOY is classy, classic and timeless. The styles are never going to be outdated and they will last forever because they are great quality.
KJ: Any final words for us?
KA: Be present, enjoy the moment, or you will miss the little things... even yourself.
Short & Sweet:
Favorite word? Photosynthesis
Least favorite word? No
Favorite food? Pasta
Least favorite food? Seafood
Your six word memoir? Life is beautiful. Live it now.
Biggest turn off? Ego
Biggest turn on? Honesty
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Red or white? White
Tea or coffee? Tea
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
Comedy or horror? Comedy
Teacher or student? Both
Kisses or hugs? Hugs
Noise or silence? Silence
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Photography: Jennifer Daigle Photography