Rafaella Poderosa

Rafaella in her element.  Glitter and painting by Emily Dickinson.

Rafaella in her element.  Glitter and painting by Emily Dickinson.

by Jess Salgueiro

I recently went for a walk with a friend.  A new friend.  He was telling me about his woes, asking some very poignant questions.  Jess, how do you take risks?  I don’t know why I’m so afraid to do everything.  

After much unpacking and an exhausting 4 hour conversation, I resorted to telling him the only thing I could possibly come up with- try on an alter ego...his ears perked.

I have an alter ego.  Her name is Rafaella Poderosa.  I conceived of her during a Beyoncé choreography class (beyography for those in the know.)  While I was practicing the umpteenth hairflip in "Upgrade U", I glanced in the mirror and watched as my left hand brushed the hair passed my shoulder, rolled my head to the right and placed my left knuckles on my hip; fuuuuuuull attitude and fully not part of the taught choreography. I then attempted to do a hair flip without these added eccentricities, it didn’t work- I hurt my neck. And as I zeroed in on what was required to do a multitude of the moves in this dance, I realized that without some seriously layered swagger there would be no chance at pulling it off. So what was going on here?  How does Beyoncé do this and make it look so effortlessly cool?  Then I remembered Sasha Fierce…Beyoncé has discussed Sasha in interviews and even named one of her albums after her, it’s her alter ego.  

"I have someone else that takes over when it's time for me to work, and when I'm on stage, this alter ego I created that kind of protects me and who I really am. Sasha Fierce is the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken and more glamorous side that comes out when I'm working and when I'm on the stage.”

So for the remainder of the class I channelled my own more sensual, aggressive and fearless side.  And-I killed it.  The dance, that is. 

These classes became a weekly thing for me and every time the music would come on I would go full Rafaella beast mode.  It is shocking how the choreo would become easier, the dance more fun and me more fierce.  I decided to take this a step further, I brought Rafaella into my acting classes.  She was a wild animal, expressing rage, sexuality and vulnerability to an extent that I’d never been able to before.  She had no shame, and that was really the magic of all of it.   No shame translated to confidence for me.  All the “just own it” talk and “be yourself” speech became emphatically clear.  I needed her to access my truth, and because it was “Rafaella,” my judgment somehow gave her permission.

Now I bring her with me all the time: dates, auditions, work-outs, performances, swimming, shopping for new clothes, confrontations with family, traveling.  Everywhere.

I encourage you to make a list of qualities belonging to your alter ego.  A good place for me was to start with was - she/he is fearless, truthful and generous.  

Rafaella Poderosa
(Poderosa meaning powerful woman in Portuguese)

She’s from Brasil, obviously, not Brazil but Brasil.  She’s exotic and embraces it.  She usually wears loud prints and big jewellery, though sometimes she can keep it simple cause her beauty is truly from within.  She loves animals and people.  She’s not quick to judge, but will defend/assert herself like a she-wolf if someone attempts to harm her or her loved ones.  She smells good, like musk and grapefruit.  She drinks wine and tequila, enjoys hot weather and feels most beautiful when she’s dancing solo, looking up at the sky; but is partial to dancing salsa with a sexy AF partner. She loves men and women and respects other’s positions and emotions.  She will not stand for intolerance or discrimination.  If someone falls off their bike, she’s the first to help.  If someone passes her on the street, she’s the first to smile.  She listens deeply; loves one-on-ones but is commonly the life of the party.  She’s hungry for the world, she wants to travel every inch of the planet, plunge into ice cold water, ride a camel with a bedouin, and surf in Bali.  She is very independent, reads a lot and absolutely celebrates her lovers with everything she has.  She’s an advocate of freedom and loves babies and family.  She’s gonna be such a MILF it’s not even funny.  Her perfect evening is dancing in a bright yellow dress with big hoop earrings on the beach to salsa/house/early 2000’s hip hop, with all her best friends, drinking mezcal, and taking little breaks to escape and kiss beautiful humans and puppies as the sun peeks up on the horizon.

How about yours?  Go explore….

Jessica Salgueiro