City Girl Savings founder Raya Reaves is proud to present a quick Q&A session with actress Alisa Reyes! Best known for her role on Nickelodeon’s All That, Alisa has also been in One World, Without a Trace, Boston Public and Six Feet Under. Alisa has a few projects in the works and a music single coming out soon! Alisa talks exclusively with City Girl Savings about finances, her career and much more! The CGS Team encourages financial independence among women and is always happy to feature women with the same values!
CGS: City Girl Savings was created to help women build financial independence, how important is it for women to save money?
Alisa Reyes: It’s vital for anyone and everyone to save money regardless of their gender. My mother Brenda, God rest her soul, was a single parent whom in her early 20’s had the drive to open up her own beauty salon called “Beauty By Bonnie” in her hometown in PA. She knew at a young age what she wanted to aspire to do with her life and made sure she received a proper education and followed her dreams no matter where they took her.
My mother was a jack of all trades just like me. Granted I am my mother’s daughter. FYI there is a reason I am sharing my back story with you all. She loved the arts and loved anything that was beauty related. She also loved cooking. I am Irish, Italian and Dominican I like to call myself the United Nations.
So you can see why there were multiple career options for her as there was and is for me to this day. She later in life on a whim moved to Puerto Rico learned Spanish on her own and worked at a hotel in their kitchen for 5 years. Later came back to New York and ended up working for The Board of Education as a dietitian for 25 years.
My mother was the perfect role model for me and for any young woman trying to earn a decent dollar and turning that into a stable happy life and instilled in me at an early age the value of a dollar. She allowed me to pursue my dreams of being an entertainer at the age of 8 yrs. old. She told me that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I had a passion and drive for it.
When I booked my first big acting gig she made sure my money was put away in a trust and made sure that I also was able to enjoy what I earned. She also taught me that money doesn’t grow on a tree, so saving some is beyond vital for a rainy day.
Every generation is unique yet there is always the same message behind every era and that is “Nothing Comes For Free and Things Won’t Just Fall on Your Lap Unless You Go After It”. I didn’t really have a sense of money, taxes, pensions, credit, savings, etc. until my mother passed. I called her death my REBIRTH it made me grow up very fast and learn that we come in this world alone and we die alone. LOL I say that bluntly because there comes a time in a person’s life that one must realize when it’s time to grow up and smell the roses.
Life is challenging especially if one doesn’t have a salary or a stable income. I know what it’s like living check to check. BUT if one can learn how to budget and prioritize things financially then those vacations or rainy days or those impulsive shoe must haves won’t make you feel too bad when you indulge in them instead of doing what you know you’re not supposed to do when you can barely afford to get by. My advice is to worry about YOU first, then all the rest will fall into place.
CGS: You started acting at a young age, did your parents teach you to save and manage your money?
Alisa Reyes: Yes. Granted I have made some mistakes along the way because sometimes in life you want to be present in the moment and just not worry about bills or the thought process of the good old should we, could we do this and will this affect us later financially? I learned how to write a check at a young age, it’s crazy how many people don’t know how to write a check or budget their check book. Or how to do ones taxes!
These aren’t things that one will learn overnight so taking the time like my mother did with me, showing and guiding what it’s like to be an adult is something every household should partake in. Whether it’s an Aunt or Uncle a Dad or Mom or a Sister or Brother or a Friend ask if you don’t know and watch and learn throughout life.
I used to watch my mom write out our bills and handle our finances. It can be overwhelming but eventually when you hit 25 a light goes off and the reality of life sinks in. One realizes that it’s time to start learning what it takes to get one’s life in order.
When you see a parent or family member struggle its makes you want to strive to not be in that situation and all my family wanted for me was to learn from the good choices they made and to learn what not to do. Life in general is a learning process so in time things will grow internally and eventually one will realize “OH this is how it works”!
CGS: What professional achievement are you most proud of?
Alisa Reyes: I’m most proud of : when I received my SAG card in 1990 and when I won a Hollywood Reporter Award for Best Young Actress in 2000 for my TV show One World on NBC as the role of Marci Blake. It’s lovely to get recognized within your line of work. I also loved when I did my first seminar last year at a wonderful facility called Arc Noho in CA that supplies free workshops and classes for anything related to the entertainment industry.
This is where I taught a class on ‘Awakening Your Inner Passion”. I was able to share my journey on how I started acting at a young age and the type of education I took part in and helped my class on marketing and branding and the Ins and Outs of being an entertainer. It was an amazing experience to have a room of people there to hear what I had to say.
I was honored to be given that opportunity to be a mentor and a role model for such a diverse and talented group of individuals. I was honored to know they were there to see me talk about my journey. I am also proud of the fact that I still have the drive and passion to continue to audition for roles and create projects for myself and others; whether it’s writing, producing, raising funds or simply helping with product placement, casting or marketing. As long as I am doing what I love I am proud of every moment God gives me the chance to do so.
CGS: What can we expect next from you and your career?
Alisa Reyes: Aside from the fact that I am embarking on marriage this coming summer to my best friend Nathan Thorpe, which I am so excited about, I will be releasing a single on iTunes called “Sexy Hot” along with a music video. I will also be releasing a kid’s book in honor of my mother called “Minou” about a traveling cat. Some proceeds will go to The Cancer Society. I am big on charity work and The Cancer Society is dear to my heart for multiple reasons.
I have a few projects that are in the works one with the actor/comedian Sinbad and with some of my OG All That cast members and I am getting ready to film a sci-fi thriller called The Circle. I have a cartoon called “Da Jammies” where I play the role of MOMO that will be released on Netflix. I also do motivational coaching on helping one find their way within their desired line of work on a great third party site called LivePerson.com. That is just a small recap of many things that are transpiring within my career and I hope to stay busy doing what I love.
CGS: Being in the industry, you understand a women’s desire to be fashionable. What advice would you give a woman trying to be stylish on a budget?
Alisa Reyes: Great question! I love clothes, shoes, makeup you name it. I am a girly girl 24-7. That being said, name brands aren’t always the answer. Buying some things online or at local stores are sometimes the way to go, and the must have items I look for must come with a deal. I always use coupons. It’s vital to have your own style and not feel pressured to keep up with trends because what was hot 5 years ago may not be hot now, but everything 360’s in life so keep your bell bottoms ladies.
Try shopping at a thrift store, you might find a hidden treasure or maybe look through your grandmother’s closet, vintage is always classy. Be unique and stay true to who you are. YOU don’t have to have it all or have everything. As long as you are confident inside then as my mother use to say “ It doesn’t matter how much something costs as long as you rock it with grace and style, that’s all that matter”.
No one knows what your price tag says, only you. So remember that if it makes you feel like a million bucks, then who cares what someone else thinks. Being happy within your skin is more vital than a designer must-have or the price of your dress. As long as you are happy then being stylish on a budget will allow you to create mentally your ROCKSTAR image.
Check out Alisa’s personal website and follow her on social media to stay up to date!