Princess Lockerooo is a multifaceted performance artist, content curator, educator and activist with a 13-year tenure in the dance and entertainment industries. Her talents encompass choreography, artistic direction, costume & makeup design, event curating, mentorship, public speaking and women’s empowerment. Princess Lockerooo has been showcased on many of the entertainment industry’s leading television platforms such as Harry Connick Jr., Wendy Williams, and So You Think You Can Dance, has worked with top pop artists (Madonna, Jody Watley, Icona Pop), and has produced entertainment for numerous events across the world (Lincoln Center, Summerstage, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, SAP Next-Gen). Lockerooo’s work has brought her to over 26 countries throughout Asia and Europe. She is a vegan advocate, and her mission is to encourage a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Her unique brand of entertainment stands for self empowerment, gender equality, and sensuality without objectification.
Agnes Wielgosz: Samara, you are a creative artist, leader and gender equality advocate. Can you please share with us, how did you become an advocate for gender equality? How has this experience influenced your career as an artist?
Samara Cohen: The truth is, it happened by accident. In my past I was not confident or connected to my power, though I desired to be strong and brave. I followed my heart and became a dancer, and discovered so much more about myself along the journey. The first step was connecting with my womanhood and stepping into my superhero persona. I became an iconic influential dancer and a symbol of feminine strength. I realized that there were so many women longing to feel stronger. The 70s dance style “waacking,” which I use as my medium of expression, was birthed out of the gay community. After witnessing the mistreatment gay and transgender people faced on a daily basis, it became clear to me that there are people of all genders wanting and needing to be seen and treated as equal. I knew that it was my calling to become an advocate for gender equality.
Knowing that my art must speak to gender equality issues has made me more vulnerable as an artist because I am speaking my truth. Gender equality is personal to me, and knowing that I have the opportunity to influence change has ignited my passion for creating purpose driven work.
AW: The more we know about the positive aspects of gender equality the faster we grow as educators, and the farther we are able to go as leaders. As an artist, what practical approaches do you take on an issue such as gender inequality? What do you want to communicate through your performing arts?
SC: My approach on gender equality is to inspire self empowerment. I teach people to physically stand in their power and use their body and voice in a manner that demands respect. I set them on a path to embracing every aspect of their uniqueness so they can walk through life without hesitation or self doubt. I give them permission to be delusionally confident, and I set an example of how to do that. Aside from dance, what I share with my students is a lifestyle with a focus on self-love and respect toward others.
I want my art to communicate that it is ok to shine, be strong and stand for what you believe in. If I have communicated anything to my fans over the years, it’s that I refuse to dim my lights for anything or anyone. I encourage others to do the same.
AW: I strongly believe that the second chapter of this century will be led by the the creative thinkers and social artists. Does Princess Lockerooo, your artistic persona, act in a manner that clearly articulates who she is and what she stands for? Tell us more about her; who is she?
SC: Princess Lockerooo is my inner being exemplified, exaggerated and extroverted. She represents fierceness, fearlessness and empowerment. The brand Princess Lockerooo clearly embodies sensuality without objectification. Princess Lockerooo’s persona is that of a first-class superhero who’s gentle femininity contrasts beautifully with her divine power. When I became Princess Lockerooo it was as if all the fear I felt was magically swept away. Seeing yourself as Super will make you feel that way, and suddenly you are all that you envision yourself to be.
AW: Women themselves have to speak up and take their rights — as a self-identified gender equality advocate, can you please share with us how you help women address this greatest resistance to develop self-expression?
SC: As a dancer one of the things I rely on most is muscle memory. I believe this concept can be applied to emotions, feelings and behavior such as courage, confidence, and intolerance. What I mean by that is, just as a woman in an abusive relationship can become tolerant and numb to being treated to badly, the act of demanding respect, speaking up and not tolerating mistreatment can be strengthened by regular practice. The more you speak up, the easier it becomes.
In my classes I require my students to say that they are strong and beautiful and move and stand with power. Most times they think they are just learning how to dance. With enough repetition, the result is always an empowered human being. Women and girls who are quite shy come out of themselves and develop their whole personality learning how to waack. They see me as fierce, strong and free, and they want to feel that way too. I provide a safe space for them to express and explore their power. It feels so good to feel so free, they can’t help but want to feel that way all the time.
AW: The concept of gender equality has been part of your artistic projects. If you could COMMUNICATE one thing to the listeners what would it be?
SC: Sensuality is something to be respected. Once it is objectified it loses its power and beauty. I want women to know that they should never feel that they have to objectify their body, and I want men to realize the damage caused by objectifying a woman’s body. It’s like pulling a flower out of the ground.
AW: What is one area where we can EDUCATE people to improve gender equality?
SC: In order to improve something you must first start by being able to address the problem. Teaching people to recognize and address gender inequalities in their own personal lives, work, home, relationships is one area to focus. Shedding light on the problems that exist is a first step in helping people realize that there is a real need for change. You can tell people that they need to improve something because it is right, but it is more powerful and everlasting when people recognize an issue and take action because they are called to do so.
AW: Tell me one thing that has INSPIRED you?
SC: People who have built something from nothing, never giving up. That is the kind of person I always aspire to be.
Samara, thank you for joining the #CEIproject talk.