It all started April 16, 1993 in Chicago, IL where I was born. Obviously (obvious that it starts when I was born). I grew up in a beautiful home with two loving artist parents Peter & Julia Eastwood and the inside of my childhood home looks like an art museum. I never knew that other kids didn’t have clouds painted on the wall or painted doors that looked like they were made of marble…that was just how things are done everywhere.
Soon enough I found out that’s NOT how things are done everywhere and my parents were quite the asset to be growing up with as a future artist myself. As early as I can remember I understood things like symmetry and contrast and a bunch of things that kids my age couldn’t care less about. I was always pretty good at drawing but it wasn’t necessarily a passion for me so I found other interests as well. The thing I got most into at a young age was baseball but that didn’t last long after I found dance at the age of 10.
WHEN I MET DANCE...
When N’sync was getting big I’d see them on award shows and try and mimic them with my friends. We’d make a routine, get the boombox out (yes a boom box a.k.a. the thing that played songs from a circular disk as well as radio.) and show my parents. Eventually my parents thought – “hey, our boy isn’t too bad” so they threw me in my first dance class the week of Halloween. I remember it was Halloween because my teacher Mr. Sydney wore a rainbow afro wig and taught the choreography from “Thriller”. When I walked out of the class my Ma asked me what I thought and I said, “Mama I wanna do this for the rest of my life.”
TIME TO LEARN...
Then began my training; I started in the local company at the studio but quickly outgrew that. Then I started training in jazz, a little ballet, and of course hip hop for a couple years at the world famous “Giordano’s Dance” in Evanston, IL. For all you vigorous google mappers out there that was an hour to and from rehearsal twice a week for 3 years. Eventually, while still training at Giordano, my Ma found a convention called Monsters Of Hip Hop featuring the industry’s leading choreographers teaching class all weekend. We didn’t have the money (at all) but we scraped it together & I went to my very first convention. My first class was with Nappytabs and I had never been so embarrassed in my life – this was what REAL choreography was like. Guess I was a big fish in a very VERY small pond. I wanted to leave but my parents encouraged me to stick it out and I walked away with my very first scholarship for dance at the end of the weekend.
I continued my training as best I could but in the meantime…a thing called Youtube came along. When I was only 13 years old I made my very first youtube video, coincidentally I happened to think I was also going to be a DJ and my name was already taken on youtube so I used my 13 year old nickname, Icon, hence youtube.com/djicon. Little did I know that youtube would become such a big thing (also that I would never be able to change it). I also didn’t know what youtube would provide for me some day. I began gaining a bit of a following from people that I didn’t even know. Eventually people started contacting me through my Myspace (yes, myspace) to come out and teach. Before I knew it I was traveling the world to teach by the time I was only 16 years old. Along the way I made a company with my parents called YOUNG LIONS representing the young and hungry upcoming youth. The brand is represented by: clothing designed by my parents & sometimes by me, and touring dance workshops with me featuring both choreographers that I look up to & am currently training. Somehow I still managed to graduate normal public school and finally reach my big goal of moving to California to pursue my full-blown dance career even further.
The move went relatively well…well, as good as becoming a full adult with your own apartment half way across the country can go anyway haha. But somewhere along the way I noticed a second passion of mine that made me feel different than everyone else and that was film. Around 16 my Dad started showing me some “Classics” and ever since then I was HOOKED on film. I couldn’t even watch a movie anymore with out analyzing the shot, listening to the audio, watching the editing, paying attention to the score, trying to understand the writing. Every film got watched at least twice to try and absorb everything I liked about it (at least the good films anyway). So around the second year of living in LA is when I finally took my two passions and melded them together. Of course I realized I had been directing my videos this whole time, but THIS is when I really started to invest. You wouldn’t believe most of the stories of things I’ve done to accomplish my “youtube videos”. I am continuously a student, but I’m also really proud of what I’ve done thus far. If you actually read all this, thanks for coming along with me on the journey, it’s only the beginning…literally…this was the spark notes version of my life. Maybe someday I’ll write a book so you can get the whole deal. Haha.