They say dynamite comes in small packages. Judine Somerville, who recently reprised her role as one of the legendary Dynamites in NBC’s production of “Hairspray,” is the definition of dynamite in a small package.
One of the first Black women to join the ranks of the legendary Radio City Rockettes in 1996, Somerville continues to reap the rewards of hard work, dedication and passion. Somerville, who grew up in the Lefferts Gardens housing projects, understands the concept of hard work and ambition to better oneself.
“I started dancing thanks to my next door neighbor,” said Somerville. “She would come home and teach me all of the routines in her living room.”
She continued, “Coming from the projects and people expecting mediocrity is a testament to my mom who was a single parent. My grandmother had a huge influence in our lives because I learned how to sing in church. It was there that I was able to really hone my skills in as a singer along with my dancing.”
Somerville, who was a Dynamite in NBC’s live production of “Hairspray,” which aired Dec. 7, was also a Dynamite in the original Broadway production of the show. “People ask me am I shocked,” said Somerville. “No, because I willed this. I had my goals and I achieved most of them.”
Performance and dancing are Somerville’s greatest passions, but she’s also involved in extensive social impact work with programs dedicated to addressing certain social issues affecting young people. “I am interested in helping people through the arts,” said Somerville. “I realized in the underserved community, the arts are not introduced in school and that all kids don’t learn the same. Some kids gravitate to music and arts and some kids are running to the math lab.” Somerville is working alongside others to ensure corporate sponsorship to fund her programs to expand them on a global scale.
Somerville’s biggest inspiration for pursuing a career and life in performance was her mother. “My mother always said I could do anything I put my mind to,” she said. “She always supported me in everything, so that was an open door to endless possibilities. I was bullied a little as a kid and the dancing helped me build my confidence. It was my mother saying that I could do anything and at the time it was dancing.”
She has advice for young women and aspiring performers. “Be clear on your goals, write them out and share them with the universe,” she said. “Attitude determines altitude. Your attitude determines how far you will you go in life.”
Somerville is also an advocate for children’s development. “Figure out how your kid learns and once you figure out how your kid learns, put them in the environment that they will grow,” she said. “That’s why I am so passionate about the arts.”
Catch Somerville in the NBC broadcast of “Hairspray” Dec. 26, at 8 p.m. More information about Somerville can be found on her website, www.justjudine.co, or follow her via her social media accounts, Facebook and Twitter @justjudine.