Meet XANDRA, the DJ Making a Name for Herself in a Male-Dominated Industry

The recent University of Miami graduate will perform at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show at Miami Swim Week.

XANDRA understands all too well what it’s like breaking into a predominantly male industry. A self-taught, open-format DJ who started practicing her craft as a junior in high school, XANDRA was inspired to try her hand at DJing after seeing Alison Wonderland perform at Lollapalooza. 

“I looked at her and I was like, Why don’t I just do that? Like I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t do any of that, but I can definitely mix. So I called my mom the next day and I was like, ‘I wanna be a DJ,’” XANDRA explains. “Thank God she was supportive, and the next day I went and bought a board. Over the next year, I really taught myself and then I ended up DJing my senior homecoming, my senior prom in my prom dress.”

Now, at 22, the University of Miami grad is gearing up to DJ the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show at the W South Beach for Miami Swim Week on Friday, July 7. The show will be live-streamed from Miami Swim Week

“I cannot even put [my excitement] into words. I still don’t believe that it’s real, like it does not feel real,” XANDRA says of her upcoming set. “I’ve always looked up to Sports Illustrated my whole entire life... I just never thought I’d ever be in this position, especially DJing, doing the thing that I love the most. So I’m ecstatic.”

Throughout college, XANDRA, who majored in marketing and minored in music business, made her way by DJing frat parties—which she says wasn’t always a welcoming environment—before moving on to performing at clubs.

“Boys do not like to give girls any credit, especially when it comes to DJing, so I really had to fight for myself there,” she says. “Then I ended up getting noticed by some guys that run some of the clubs, and I ended up DJing my first club when I was 18 in Miami. I’ve been doing it ever since, just trying to plow my way through the industry really.”

As an open-format DJ, meaning she doesn’t stick with one single genre, XANDRA says she bases her set on the crowd’s reaction and adjusts accordingly.

“I like to play music that makes everyone dance and have a good time... I play a song and then I see how the crowd reacts to it, and if they don’t react to it in the way that I want them to, I can change genre,” she explains. “My belief is that if the girls are happy, the boys are happy. If they’re dancing, the guys are dancing. So I feel like by keeping the girls happy and making sure everyone has a good time, that’s the best type of music you can play.”

Coming up on her sixth year of DJing, XANDRA says despite people still underestimating her skills simply because she’s a woman, she loves continuing to defy people’s expectations of her.

“Everyone saying that I couldn’t do it or that I’m not a real DJ or that I have no idea what I’m doing, you know, I still get those comments to this day...,” she shares. “I feel like [I’m] kind of really breaking that stereotype. You can be a normal girl that loves music. You don’t need to have crazy hair, like a crazy personality. You can be like a normal person and have goals and aspirations and just live your life. You don’t need to be crazy, you can just be yourself and do amazing things. Being a girl in the industry has been very, very difficult.”

When it comes to women breaking into male-dominated industries like DJing, XANDRA suggests staying true to yourself no matter what.

“Don’t let anyone stop you,” she says. “People are gonna try to knock you down. People are gonna try to not take you seriously and you just gotta persevere through that. You can’t listen to anyone else. If you really want something, you have all the power in the world to go and do that if you just put your mind to it.”

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Published
Cara O’Bleness

CARA O’BLENESS

Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.