Orissa Kelly is popularly famous as one of the world’s only fire-foot archery performers!
All the way from Watford (England), Orissa started her journey as a gymnast at the age of 3 and went on to compete for Great Britain. At the age of 17, she canceled her university application just months before starting and followed her heart by joining the circus! After performing aerial silks professionally for a few years, Orissa still craved for something even crazier – even more unique.
She has amassed a strong following of over 1 million across her social media platforms and has been featured on Supercar Blondie, Ozzy Man Reviews, and named ‘The Queen of Archery’ by the Lad Bible.
Women Fitness President Ms. Namita Nayyar catches up with Orissa Kelly, an international foot archer, and creative artist as she talks about her fitness routine, diet, and her success story.
You began your journey as a gymnast at the age of 3 and at the age of 17, you canceled your university application and joined the circus! share the series of events that led you to take a shift in the decision.
At 17 there aren’t many kids who know what they want to do with their lives and I was most definitely one of them. I never found myself inclined to study or sit in a classroom, yet all my teachers were pushing me to apply for university. Around this time I received a phone call asking if I’d like to travel to Beirut to perform aerial silks for X Factor Arabia live finals. Thankfully my Mum covered for my time out of school, claiming I had caught ‘tonsillitis’ and I flew alongside other performers to Lebanon, for my first-ever live show. Whilst my fellow circus performers were drinking champagne on the plane, I was doing my homework. When the moment finally came for me to perform I was told by the producer ‘there are 8 million people watching this life. Don’t mess it up. The only thing worse than being told this was being told I had to study for the next three years at university. As the music began and I climbed up the long white ribbons to perform my act and something magical happened – the fear was replaced with a desire to excel and my heart soared as the studio audience exploded with excitement.
After a successful performance, I took my bow and then ran backstage to my phone. With ten minutes left of free wifi, I logged onto my university application and canceled it immediately. I knew from that moment on I wanted to be a performer and I would do whatever I needed to make it happen. I never had a backup plan or any other job since that moment, it was all or nothing. Ironically after my teachers found out about my decision they told me I would ‘fail at life’ for not going to university. 7 years on and I’ve performed on every continent twice, been in Hollywood blockbusters and most importantly – found a career that I love.
Besides being a Foot Archer you are also a Contortionist and Aerialist. Building talents and excelling calls upon a lot of sacrifices. Share your talent list with us.
As well as foot archery, I have a passion for aerial silks, contortion, and most importantly handstands! I feel most myself when I’m upside down and the art of balancing on your hands does just as much for the mind as it does for the body!
In April 2015 you bought your first bow and arrow and began teaching yourself foot archery. After training every day, 6 hours a day for 6 months you set out to create history. What motivated you to take up something different? Also, share the challenges that you faced and managed to overcome.
After performing aerial silks for around three years I found myself struggling financially. The circus industry had become saturated with talented aerial performers and therefore was competition and undercutting of fees. I realized that if I wanted to continue being a performer I needed to stand out. I was always trying to be the best – whether it was in gymnastics (going to the European championships at the age of 12) or winning the UK’s aerial silks championships at 17, it seemed it was never enough. I learned – why be the best if you can be the only one? Be so different that no one else even compares to you.
The reason I chose foot archery was that it was unique and a ground-based act – meaning it could work in almost any venue and would always be in demand. I had no archery knowledge, no space to train, and no teacher – so I bought a bow and arrow and went to a local cricket field, and started teaching myself. It was winter in England and I would get so cold my toes would freeze and struggle to even hold the bow. The rain would make my handstand platform slippery and my toes suffered intense cramping. Yet I pushed through over 6 months and after training every day for 6 hours, I finally hit my target. Now when I perform at outdoor events and the client asks me if the weather will be a problem I laugh!
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