Jessica Valadez

Graduate Student

Office Location

Theater Dance West, Room 2516


Hi there! My name is Jessica Valadez Vazquez, I am a first-year M.A./Ph.D. and I identify as a performance scholar/artist. As a double major alumnus from UCLA, with degrees in World Arts & Cultures and Chican@ Studies, and a two-year teaching adventure with Teach for America in Miami Gardens, Florida—teaching history and government to students from predominantly Afro-Latino Caribbean diaspora’s (grades 6-9)—my perspective is extremely kaleidoscopic like the spaces and actors I’ve engaged with and navigated through.

At UCLA, I was mentored in the dualism of artist/scholar by renowned artist/scholar/activist Dr. David Gere immersing in the Art and Global Health Center at UCLA—which Gere founded—in an array of ways; my favorite being, my experiences with the Sex Squad (

At age fifteen, I found myself. Spoken word with powerful words that sting like bullets shifted my perception of daily Boyle Heights' atrocities I once perceived as the norm. I’d roam the streets listening to music of hovering helicopters and gunshots on repeat. Lost souls fighting with clenched fists juxtaposing, historical symbols of clenched fists raised in solidarity during the “East LA walkouts” of the 1960's (Escobar 1495) and scripting a post-Chicano Movement history as a segregated one. I feel my duty is to script transcultural affinities that highlight unity within this human community and that is why I am here.

Humbling performance fact: I competed at UCLA’s 25th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Speech and Spoken Word Oratorical competition once (while pregnant) and actually won (not that I believe one can truly put a value on anyone’s art including mine).  

My research interests are eclectic however, they are all centered around a theme of representation. Some of these interests are:

  • Colonization, supposed post-colonialism, and neocolonialismborder consciousness

  • performance studies; fascinated by the relationship between archive & repertoire

  • intersectionality and transnationality evident in liminal genres

  • special interest in female representations and the role of women as actors/producers.

  • popular culture

  • visual art and culture

  • ethnography

  • oral histories as, and in performance

  • Feminist theories vs Critical Men Studies; Queer Theory

  • Youth Culture (Hip-hop culture, Rave culture etc.)

  • Counterpublic spaces like spoken word poetry venues