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Wearing Talent on Her Sleeve

Featured Photo from Wearing Talent on Her Sleeve

Whether it’s acting or art, this Winter Springs six-year-old is skilled beyond her years, and now she has her own Life is Good T-shirt to prove it

Jayde Pagan is an award-winning artist, professional commercial actress, and active canine philanthropist – and she’s only six years old! This busy pint-sized Winter Springs resident packs a punch with her talent, passion, and heart, and she’s just getting started.

After beating out 400 other kids to take home the grand prize in her age category at the Winter Park Christmas Art Contest last year, Jayde recently won the national Life is Good Art Contest, and her winning design is being printed and sold on a limited-edition T-shirt that can be purchased online, with all proceeds benefiting the Life is Good Kids Foundation for children in need. For her efforts, Jayde won $2,000 in scholarship money.

Jayde’s winning lion graphic and “Be Wild” theme were inspired by her own look and personality, specifically from a photo Jayde’s mom took of her during spring break.

“You’re so happy and carefree, you’re being wild,” mom Janeen told her daughter after she snapped the pic. “You look like a lion.”

So that’s what Jayde drew, adding the “Be Wild” caption to her colorful king-of-the-jungle caricature.

When asked if she thought her mom’s description of her demeanor was accurate, Jayde doesn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative.

“Yeah, I’m always wild,” Jayde says with a smile. “I run around. Upstairs, downstairs. Upstairs, downstairs. Upstairs, downstairs.”

Drawing and painting started as – and still is – a mother-daughter activity in the Pagan home, with Janeen and Jayde frequently working on similar projects together. But neither has ever taken an art class. Unaware of Jayde’s talent, Janeen posted photos of her daughter’s artwork on Facebook, where friends informed her, “No, that’s not normal for her age.”

Some of Jayde’s favorite pieces of artwork include a colorful toucan and a pastel dragon, “Because they both look so neat,” she says.

The family’s Winter Springs house is dotted with Jayde’s framed artwork in multiple places. The displays even features a sweet grouping of mother-daughter versions of similar paintings side-by-side.

When asked what she likes about art, Jayde quickly replies, “I like the colors.” And although purple was her favorite color early on, she’s recently jumped on the pink bandwagon.

“She’s got me on the edge of my seat,” Janeen says of her daughter’s changing artistic opinions.

Art with a Heart

Combining their love of art and animals, Jayde and Janeen contacted an animal rescue organization in Kissimmee over the summer to see if they could donate some of Jayde’s artwork to help raise money for the rescue’s foster program. Over the last two years, the Pagans have fostered about 15 dogs, not counting the litters of puppies that have come with some of the mother-to-be foster dogs the family has taken in.

“We love it,” Janeen says about fostering. “Jayde says that she wants me to open my own [pet rescue organization].”

When Jayde isn’t drawing or fostering dogs, she’s starring in commercials. She’s been acting for less than a year, but she’s already hooked... and frequently booked. After seeing a friend in a commercial, Jayde told her mom that she wanted to do that, too. Everything seemed to align just right, and before the Pagan family knew it, Jayde was on set for a Disney Junior commercial as one of the lead actresses. Since then, Jayde has acted in several commercials for Disney as well as online video lessons for Florida Virtual School.

Jayde says that having all the people and cameras watching her is definitely her favorite part about acting. The hardest part, however, is getting ready before the shoot.

“I want to just go really quickly!” Jayde exclaims. “I want to go straight to the photoshoot!”

Recently, Jayde was invited to start trying out for television shows and movies, which she says is her ultimate goal.

“I sat down with her,” Janeen explains, “and asked if she was sure this is what she wants to do, because it would require a lot out of her. And Jayde said, ‘Of course I want to do it! Who wouldn’t want to do this?’ So I told her we would keep going until she said no. It’s definitely not me pushing her. When they call with a job, I ask Jayde if she wants to do it, and she says, ‘Let’s go!’ We’re pretty much open to anything that will help build up Jayde’s account for college. So as long as it’s worth it for her, and she wants to do it, we say yes. But we’re really excited to see where this TV and film opportunity goes.”

Being an actress is hard work, but Janeen says her daughter’s attitude makes it easy.

“Jayde’s not a difficult kid,” Janeen brags. “If it’s what she wants, she goes with the flow. She’s a good sport about it and doesn’t complain. But it requires a lot of patience.”

So what are Jayde’s plans for her newfound income? After saving for college, Jayde has some very specific ideas: a kitty cat, a trip to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party at Walt Disney World, and a visit to the Bahamas.

“I’ve been wanting to go to the Bahamas forever,” says Jayde.

When you’re only six, and when you move as fast as little Jayde does, just about anything can feel like forever.

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