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Elgin Zerick

Elgin Zerick

from: Los Angeles, CA
Genre: Pop/Dance


Elgin Zerick Featured Videos
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Elgin Zerick (EZ) - Top of the World
Official music video for 'Top of the World' by Elgin Zerick.

Elgin Zerick Biography

Elgin Zerick doesn’t dream often. But when he does, it tends to change his life.

In 2011, the Los Angeles resident dreamt he was in a classroom. A voice asked him a stark series of questions: 'All those times you were thinking about killing yourself, why? What did you think of yourself?' 'I thought I was ugly,' Zerick responded. Then he saw the word 'ugly' on the chalkboard. But it appeared as part of an acronym, short for U Gotta Love Yourself.

When Zerick awoke, he knew that his life was about to change. After a lifetime of suffering, of persecution and of self-doubt, Zerick knew what he needed to do. 'To be a decent individual and to have a decent life, you truly have to love yourself,' he says today. 'The dream was telling me that’s a message for everyone.'

Through his Ugly non-profit organization, book and music, Zerick plans to help people transform their lives. He wants to help people – children and adults – overcome their self-doubt and innermost fears and help them reach their full potential. 'We all have issues,' he says. 'Ugly is not just a physical thing. It can be a state of mind.'

Zerick knows what it’s like to feel ugly. Born with hemifacial microsomia, a condition where the lower half of one side of the face is underdeveloped, he grew up in Sacramento being ridiculed, embarrassed and hassled by virtually everyone he encountered. By the time he was eight, he had shot an 18-year-old whose abuse was particularly overwhelming. Zerick’s mother sent him to live with his father, who had relocated to Paso Robles, California. There, the children were neither as aggressive nor as overt in their persecution of Zerick because of his appearance, but the psychological damage had already been done. He wanted to kill himself.

Fortunately, by the time he was nine Zerick’s father located a doctor at UCLA who started performing a series of facial reconstruction surgeries in order to give Zerick a more normal-looking face. But this progress was coupled with devastating news. When the medical staff began running tests on his family members in order to try and trace the source of the hemifacial microsomia, Zerick’s stepfather called off the tests. Zerick’s stepfather told him that his mother had tried to self-abort him by sitting over a pot of boiling pot of water mixed with ammonia, and that she had also been on various drugs during her pregnancy. 'When I found this out, I was really pissed off. I was like, ‘Screw my mom,' he recalls.

Later that same day, Zerick’s father told him that he did not accept Zerick as his own son until he was three. It was too much to handle. Zerick ran away from home, living at school with the help of one of its janitors. 'Life for me at this point was really terrible,' he says. 'Every single day of my life, I’m thinking only one thing pretty much all day: ‘How do I get out of this life?'

When his father called into the school to let them know he was missing, they informed him that Zerick had in fact been going to school. One of Zerick’s teachers happened to be in office when his father called and offered to let Zerick stay with her and her family until he calmed down. He ended up living with his teacher’s family until he graduated high school, a move that Zerick credits with saving his life.

Zerick’s adopted mother explained to him that there wasn’t a face and name when he was an embryo, that his mother’s decisions while she was pregnant weren’t personal and that everyone has issues in life. These discussions changed Zerick’s outlook on his situation and on life in general.

'I had to learn to forgive,' he says. 'That’s part of the process with Ugly, to love yourself and to know what that really means. I had to learn to forgive all those kids that teased me, that looked at me strange. I had to forgive them in order to have a good life. Otherwise, I’d just go around angry every day. Literally, that’s what I was doing. I hated people. I hated the world. I stopped looking at what I didn’t have and started focusing on what I did have. I got to a point where I was like, ‘Hey. I’ve got a lot to offer. If a person doesn’t get that because they’re judging me on what my face looks like, then it’s their loss.’ That was the beginning of healing for me.'

Around the same time, Zerick began excelling at athletics, particularly track & field. He earned a scholarship to San Francisco State and ended up at Cal State LA in order to remain with a coach he was particularly fond of. While living in North Hollywood, he reconnected with a friend from high school who had a rock band. Zerick’s friend convinced him to manage the band. Without any connections in the music industry, Zerick got the group signed to a major label.

Listening to music had long been a refuge for Zerick, a place where he could enjoy himself and be himself without interacting with others. Now he was getting paid to participate in the music business. In addition to launching and operating several successful businesses, he also began managing groups, DJing bar mitzvahs and mixing, remixing and producing songs for Madonna, 2Pac, Boyz II Men and others.

Although he had once preferred being in the background, he came to realize that his Ugly dream had another striking component: that in order to be fully healed, he needed to be in the forefront – as an artist. He wrote and recorded the celebratory song 'Top Of The World,' a track of what he calls fusion music, a blend of urban, house, trance and hip-hop. The clip’s video got more than 300,000 hits in a month.

With entertainment an integral part of Ugly initiative, Zerick plans to release an album and book in order to give him a platform to spread his message. 'I think about my daughter and the moves that I’m making business wise and setting her life up,' he says. 'My parents did the best that they could do and I’m supposed to take that and make it better for my daughter.'

It’s more likely to happen now that Elgin Zerick knows the true definition of Ugly.
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