By Dennis J. Freeman
Professional ice skater Tetona Jackson loves her job. One of the principle ice skaters for the world famous Disney on Ice tour, Jackson get a kick being a center part of a show that features 50 characters and boatloads of fun. Jackson, who skates and plays the character Princess Tiana, said she is enjoying every minute of being part of the show.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Jackson said recently. “It’s not something that I ever expected to do. It’s a lot of fun to do. It’s a job I that thoroughly enjoy and have fun with. It’s fun coming to work every day. Hopefully, I’ll be doing this for a while.”
Jackson is used to performing in front of a lot of people. As the Disney on Ice tour conclude its 2010 Southern California run, the Los Angeles native embraces her artistic outlet. Growing up, Jackson performed with the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and is known as a vocal performer as well. She took up ice skating at an early age and fell in love with the sport even though her initial try ended with her falling on the ice.
“My mother let me skate a little bit, and as soon as I hit the ice I fell in love with it,” Jackson said. “I guess you can say that was the start of my career.”
The sport has seemingly fallen in love with her as well. Jackson is the lone African American ice skater for Disney on Ice. Because Princess Tiana is such as integral part of Disney’s stable of princesses, thanks to the movie, “Princess and the Frog,” which features the Walt Disney Co.’s first black heroine, Jackson has a starring role in the show.
But finding black ice skaters like her are rare. Initially, that caused a little concern for Jackson when entered into the sport of ice skating, she said.
“At one point it was really hard for me when I started to realize it,” Jackson said. “But at the end of the day it was just a push to make myself a stronger person and work even harder at it.”
Trained in jazz, African, tap, ballet and flamenco dance, Jackson put together all that training to go on to star as an up and coming ice skater. In the 2006 National Showcase, a theatrical skating competition put on by the United States Figure Skating Association, Jackson skated her way to a bronze medal.
But after awhile, Jackson figured that competitive skating wasn’t what she wanted to do. After 10 years devoted to the sport, Jackson was ready to move on. Her interest to compete at a high level began to flame out. Getting up for competition began to wear on her. She wanted to try her hand at other things.
A hairline fracture injury in her back caused by the constant falling on ice all but made up Jackson’s mind to leave the competitive world.
“The competitive world had become too stressful for me. It was something I started to enjoy less and less because of the stress that came with it,” said Jackson. “The competition had made me stopped loving it [ice skating] as much as I did. I knew if I wanted to continue to have the love for it I had to do something different.”
By chance, Jackson was offered an opportunity to star in Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour. She submitted her resume to the casting director and eventually won the skating role as Taylor McKessie in the show. Jackson hasn’t looked back.
“I figured I may as well give it a shot,” Jackson said. “I did and I am here now.”