Jessie Dez might never have arrived on the South Florida entertainment scene if not for a disastrous event that nearly took her sister’s life.
“I’m originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico,” Ms. Dez said. My family and I were in Orlando on vacation at the Disney parks when I was seven years old. While we were there, my sister Natalie, who was 14 at the time, suffered a sudden brain aneurysm and was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville where she had emergency open head surgery.”
At age 7, Ms. Dez, right, comforts her sister, Natalie, who suffered a brain aneurysm while the family was on a Disney vacation. The family wound up staying in the U.S.
What began as a routine, eight-hour operation dragged on to 14 hours, she added, and Natalie went into a coma that lasted three months.
“She survived, I’m happy to say,” Ms. Dez said. “She’s a miracle. If this had happened in Puerto Rico, she would have died. There’s not one neurosurgeon on the entire island. Natalie’s 29 now, married and just bought a house.”
Meanwhile Ms. Dez, now 23, and her folks are famous in Puerto Rico as The Family That Went On Vacation And Never Returned. Instead they hung on in the Orlando area, living in limbo, waiting for Natalie to recover.
“We stayed in hotels, we lived in the Ronald McDonald House, we didn’t have a home for a while,” she said. “Once Natalie survived and went through rehab, we moved to Celebration, Florida and that’s where I continued to grow up.”
When she reached college age, Ms. Dez came to South Florida and attended Palm Beach Atlantic University on a scholarship, where she graduated with a B.A. in Broadcast Communication in 2020. She now lives in Jupiter.
“I love the culture here in South Florida and obviously, being from Puerto Rico, I love the beach,” she laughed. “The type of people that are down here are just so welcoming and I really enjoy the lifestyle down here more than Central Florida.”
Ms. Dez’s nascent acting career has already yielded positive signs, as she progressed far in the audition process for the role of Nina Rosario in the movie “In The Heights.” Additionally, she’s been seen on Fox 29 as the host of “Living Local” and received a lot of exposure in independent films and modeling gigs.
Lovely as she is talented, Ms. Dez won Miss Palm Beach County in 2019.
She has also garnered quite a bit of attention on the beauty pageant circuit, snagging Miss Palm Beach County 2019 honors and ably competed for Miss Florida, winning the Rising Star Award as well as the Miami Spokesperson Award for 2018. But musical theatre is her real love, where she has been seen around the state as a featured performer in such productions as “Evita,” “West Side Story,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Boyfriend.” Most recently, she completed a highly successful turn in the leading role of Scaramouche in the Queen-inspired musical “We Will Rock You” at Lake Worth Playhouse.
Ms. Dez recently scored a success in the role of Scaramouche in Lake Worth Playhouse’s production of “We Will Rock You.”