By Isaiah Negron
Pussy Cat Dolls star Asia Nitollano keeps dancing from one success to another. The dancer, singer, model, and NBA cheerleader has been appointed the Creative Director and resident choreographer of Sushi Roxx, the hot new Japanese restaurant, lounge, and performance space in the Tuscany Hotel, at 120 East 39th Street. From Dancing with the Stars alumna Karina Smirnoff and Glee star Max Adler, to Orange is the New Black stars Samira Wiley and Selenis Leyva, celebs have been leading the applause for Asia’s song stylings and innovative dance routines.
Asia, who is now mentoring fourteen young dancers at the restaurant, dreamed of being onstage since she was a five-year-old growing up in Mt. Vernon, New York. “My dad is a musician and I used to go to the studio rehearsals and shows with him. Naturally I got into singing,” she remembers. “I also went to a Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx and they had a performing arts program. I just put myself in it and that’s when it all started for me.”
Asia memorably competed in the CW’s television series The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, where she ended up being crowned the “Next Doll” at the show’s finale. “From the beginning, it was life or death for me. I feel like I had a different vibe than the other girls did,” she says. “For them it was fun and just experience. For me, this was going to happen. You couldn’t tell me anything else. I was going to do what I had to do to win.” Her strategy to push herself to the limits from day one caught the attention of Robin Antin, founder of the Pussycat Dolls and a judge on the show, who said that Asia won because “she was the best all-around performer.”
Overnight stardom changed her life. “It was a big, big adjustment,” muses Asia. “I went from being in high school to, literally the next day, everyone asking me for my autograph; but the fans were awesome.” After a short stint as an official Pussycat Doll, Asia decided that she was going to explore the industry on her own. “It started feeling like it wasn’t the right thing for me, and I never want to step into a negative situation,” she says mysteriously. “I’ve always been someone who follows their heart and if my heart is telling me to do something, no matter what, I need to do it.”
Asia says she is “loving [her] new role” at Sushi Roxx, the Tokyo-inspired “celebration” dining experience she helped owner Jason Apfelbaum create. She also greets guests and helps seat them every night before “flash mobbing” the diners to sizzling dance numbers by Beyoncé and Rihanna. “It was a new challenge and I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve been busting my butt since I was ten, but that’s what makes winners,” Asia advises everyone. “Keep on going, pushing, fighting and dreaming. There’s no end until you say it’s the end.”
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