RoomZoom Portrait: Amber Pickens

Amber Pickens Updated

Amber 1

Occupation: Dancer
Hometown: Dallas
Current Neighborhood: Lower Harlem
College: Juilliard School, BFA in Dance
Age: 22
Current Number of Roommates: 2

So what brought you to dance?

My mom put me in classes when I was two. She always talks about how I had so much energy. She even wanted to originally name me Fiesta since I was gull of life. I made my full commitment to the Arts when I attended the Debbie Allen Summer Intensive in Dallas. I was about nine.

Who and what are your inspirations?

My mother; she has shown me I can do anything through God. Debbie Allen, Oprah, Angela Bassett, Frida, Alvin Ailey, Josephine Baker, Civil Rights Activists. Everyone that continues to strive for their dreams no matter what the circumstances are. I recently started watching A Different World because it is filled with inspiration and positivity.

What is your dream role?

Nala in the Lion King musical.

Why did you make the move from to NYC from Dallas?

I moved to NYC back in 2011 for college and my career.

Was it difficult?

My move wasn’t very difficult because I had help from family and we are very organized. The most difficult event was shipping our stuff. FedEx lost a lot of my boxes, and some stuff was irreplaceable.

Have you had any odd living arrangements here in New York?

I lived in the Juilliard dorms my first year here and hated it. The dorms were absolutely disgusting. There stains all over the carpet, holes in the ceilings, weird odors, nasty restrooms, wires hanging from the ceiling, broken elevators. Everything was a hot mess to say the least.

When my mom was dropping me off she was in complete shock. One of my friends even hired his personal dorm cleaner! Then I was placed with another dancer so I had no off time. We were together 24/7. The worst part was that she would go to sleep at like 8 pm! I was soon over it. I fell asleep on the couch multiple nights since I couldn’t stay up in my own room and talk on the phone.

That sounds awful…

My RA was not very hygienic either. I remember her washing her dishes in the restroom all the time. I would always pass by and think, “Girl…that is gross.” Her room was filthy too. There were clothes all over the floor, food and bottles on her desk, and a weird stench. I wanted to give her a room make over bad!

What is your current living situation?

I live in a classic seven apartment in Lower Harlem.

That sounds lovely…

Yes, I love my neighborhood because it’s so diverse and historic. My neighbors are from all around the world, Africa, Europe, the Islands, and they come with lots of fun stories. The history of my neighborhood is also very special and unique. I live in the Graham Court where New Jack City, Law & Order, and Jungle Fever were shot. It’s a blessing to be among such fascinating neighbors. I hear stories all the time about legends who use to hang around like Duke Ellington, Samuel Jackson, Diana Ross and George Faison. And now people like Neil Patrick Harris are moving in!

Amber Perkins