A former professional cheerleader and dancer strikes it big with her own specialty entertainment company
She’s entertainment …
- Written byQuinn Roberts
- Photographed byShane O’Donnell
Nothing was too unusual about the phone call. She’d received ones that were far more bizarre. A client wanted Redondo Beach’s Alysha Wheeler, founder of A-Max Entertainment, to send one of her employees to a 100th birthday party where a dancer would pop out of a cake and perform “Happy Birthday” dressed as Marilyn Monroe.
The kicker? It turned out to be a party for the father of legendary director Steven Spielberg. As the event unfolded, you could see Spielberg filming in the corner with a grin on his face. It’s hard at this point for Alysha to be surprised by requests and events, but that one sure did.
“That was on a Monday. What a great Monday,” she says.
During one week this summer she needed to hire a dancer for a pool party hosted by musician Usher. Socialite Paris Hilton needed girls to sit in a giant Champagne glass. Singer Selena Gomez needed an Italian band for a party she was hosting.
“My favorite part of what I do is that every week is different,” says Alysha.
Her business wasn’t always this way. It has been a gradual increase in people and companies hiring A-Max for events since Alysha started the firm in 2004. She got the name from her grandmother, who was named Maxine. It is also her middle name. A family affair in the beginning, Wheeler’s dad helped come up with the company’s name and made business cards, while her mom made the costumes and she did the choreography.
Growing up in Hacienda Heights, Alysha was exposed to dance at the age of 8, and it progressed from there. Her first job, at the age of 15, was as a dance teacher making up choreography. Then, while studying for her communications degree at Long Beach State, Alysha made some extra money as a dancer for the Clippers and Rams.
“Where I got real training was parties we would throw in college. My friends and I would put on random dance costumes and throw a party,” she shares. “All we needed was an audience. We’d do bad, funny dancing and just make people laugh.”
Once Alysha graduated from Long Beach State and went on tour for three years with Puerto Rican recording artist Chayanne, she realized she could make a living doing what she loved.
“I’ve always known how to make a party fun. Now I’m just taking it to the next level.”
The turning point came when a friend who produced The Bachelor on ABC needed a few dancers for a segment on the show in 2003. It wound up being Alysha and three of her friends. A week later she was at another private event, and a designer came up to her and asked if she knew any dancers for an event at the Brentwood Country Club.
Alysha’s talent base, which now consists of 50 to 60 professional dancers, choreographers, actors, models and musicians, have performed for everyone from Chevron to Wolfgang Puck.
“Every time I work with her it is always fun and surprising,” says Sara Esty, one of Alysha’s dancers. “I like having a female boss, especially because not a lot are in the entertainment industry.”
For someone so successful, Alysha has never hired a publicist. The biggest push has come from social media and working with event planners to pull off one-of-a-kind events. Just last year she provided entertainment for 25 straight days for CHILL at the Queen Mary, which included the Radio City Rockettes, Chinese acrobats and a German music group. It marked the biggest event she’d ever pulled off.
With 2017 marking her most successful year, Alysha’s life is more hectic than ever. However, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I would never have believed that I would be doing this for a living,” she says. “Growing up, half my room was a dance floor with a mirror and ballet bar. I would literally do what I’m doing now: putting on shows and entertaining. I’ve always known how to make a party fun. Now I’m just taking it to the next level.”
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