Downtown Q&A: Mickela Mallozzi

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MICKELA MALLOZZI Emmy award-winning host and executive producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a travel series highlighting the diversity of dance.

1.Name three women that inspire you, and tell us why.

My older sister, Adriana Mallozzi. Though she was born with cerebral palsy and cannot hold a pencil in her hand herself, she was the first to teach me how to read and write when I was three years old. She is a living example of overcoming innumerable obstacles, proving so many people wrong, and succeeding in everything she does. She’s a brilliant power house in the tech world, and we complement each other. She inspires me to give 100% in everything I do because she does exactly that.

Michelle Obama. She is such a guiding light, full of grace, and of course, I LOVE that she LOVES to dance!

My mother, Antoinette Mallozzi. She and my father have really guided my sister and I to follow our true paths, and I’m grateful for that.  I’m also grateful for her planting the love of travel in me; she was a travel agent when I was a kid, and I used to flip through all of the travel brochures under her desk. I would always daydream of flying on those big planes!

2. What has been the secret to your success?

I have stayed true to my own voice. When I started Bare Feet nine years ago, I wanted to tell stories through dance and music from around the world.  I never wavered from that message, even when people in the TV industry would tell me that I had to change my focus. I knew and trusted my voice. Understanding that through dance and music, I could truly connect with people, and I stuck with it.  I’m glad I did because I can attribute most of my success to that stubbornness of having laser-like focus on my brand.

3. If you were going to pass on one piece of advice to a young woman, what would it be?

Do not compare your successes with others around you. Different levels of success are so varied and so personal. Yes, of course, monetary value is one way to measure success, but just remember that it takes anywhere from 5-10 years for a small business to make a profit. Be patient with yourself and your work, be generous with giving yourself praise for the small and minute successes that you make along the way—they absolutely count and in the end, they add up to so much! I still have to remind myself of this.

4. In the fight for equality, what area do you think needs the most attention?

I’m not a mother, but there has to be change in perception and policy for working mothers and all mothers. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean Inagenda is proving to be unattainable and completely blind of the very real obstacles that working women face today from all socio and economic backgrounds. We can’t do it all, and that’s OK, but there has to be a change in the perception and policy around motherhood and working moms. It takes a village, and that includes paid maternity leave, affordable healthcare, affordable childcare, and equal pay. This has to be made available to ALL women.

5. What are you most proud of in your career?

I recently won my fourth Emmy® award. It was the second time I won for Best On-Camera Talent, but for some reason, it was the very first time that I felt that I had actually deserved the win.  Imposter Syndrome is very real, and by win #4, I felt that I had finally earned the statuette for my years of hard work; I honestly believed the last three wins were an oversight on the Academy’s part. I also reminded myself of all of the male executive producers and TV industry heads who told me I would never be the host of my own TV show.  So, in my acceptance speech, I dedicated my last Emmy to them for giving me the drive and determination to prove them all wrong.

6. Where do you get your confidence?

I don’t believe in the “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality, but I do believe in being as vulnerable as possible so you learn to become an expert in your field.  When I started this journey nine years ago, I didn’t know anything about TV, TV production, hosting, producing a series, NOTHING!  But I didn’t pretend I did. I would continuously surround myself with people who DID know about these things, and I was a sponge around them. I never wanted to be the smartest person in the room, and I still don’t. Now, I have the confidence because I actually understand my value. I know the ins and outs of my industry, and I’m still learning something every day from people who I admire and trust.

7. What makes a woman beautiful?

Her truth.  I hate when anyone is trying to “BS” me; I cannot stand fake or ingenuine people.  When someone is real, speaking their truth, and not trying to give you the answer they think you want to hear, that’s when they are the most beautiful—woman or man.

8. What gives you joy?

That’s an easy one—dancing!  Dancing gives me the most joy, and the act of dancing with strangers inspired me to change my entire career and start this incredible journey of experiencing the world one dance at a time through Bare Feet!