The sound of inspiration
Interview with teen model Isabella DeLeon Tancredi, aka DJ Bella
by: midori tajiri-byrd
What drives a young person to choose practice over recreation and spend hours working alone to hone their talents? Beyond the desire to perform, it takes a complex blend of talent, charisma and work ethic to build a career and rise above the competition at any age. It also requires resilience and tenacity to overcome professional and personal obstacles.
At the age of 16, Isabella De'Leon Tancredi has already graced runways and magazine pages, acted in major films, Dj'd dance floors as Dj Bella and was featured in Gambit's 40 Under 40. As you might expect, she is both mature and professional but also carries the calm zen of an old soul who is no stranger to challenge.
Born in Manhattan and raised in Biloxi, Bella began performing in theater at the age of four. At 13 she met DJ Nikki Stylz who was impressed with Bella's music forecasting ability and became her mentor, teaching her techniques and introducing her to other djs. Music quickly became her first love and today she spins professionally across the Gulf Coast, creatively mixing genres of music like Deep House, Trap, and Future Bass.
At 15, Bella's long curly red hair made her a favorite on the runways of Nola Fashion Week where she became a muse for Project Runway:Threads teen designer, Tieler James. She has since appeared on magazine covers like Gulf Coast Woman and in spreads for Cue, Nola Wedding Guide and Felicity Magazine.
As you might expect maintaining balance between school, career and family at this age is nearly impossible without a good support system. Bella credits her mother, Tanya Tancredi, for teaching her strength. "She taught me to stand on my own two feet and to be a strong independent woman", says Bella. Tanya, who accompanies her to every job, is a business owner herself and has no doubt been a positive role model for Bella's professional and spiritual values.
But having a career at a young age can also set one apart from their peers. And although her height and half-Dominican looks are an asset in her modeling career now, when she was younger she felt awkward and shy. However, she developed confidence through her talents and onstage transforms from a quiet, polite girl to a confident and focused performer. She now shares her insight with kids who she sees experiencing those same feelings of otherness. At one of her gigs, Bella watched a tall girl standing alone who later confessed to being afraid to dance because of her fear of ridicule. Because she could relate, Bella said, "I gave her a pep-talk which made her smile at the end of the night. I feel like it's my mission to inspire young girls who feel that way".
Beyond being a promising young talent, Bella has become a role model herself. With her varied talents it's hard to know what path she may take but it's one we hope to follow.