From celebrity’s sister to musician, student creates new identity

Courtney Runn

Curled up on a couch, she is surrounded by pictures and hand-made decorations with a wall-length tapestry hanging across from her. In a soft-spoken voice, she begins telling her story. She has been known by different labels — from the sister of a celebrity to the “Radioactive girl” — but, right now, she is just Jackie Castro. 

A communications sophomore, Castro first learned to play the guitar around age 12. Her entire family sings and plays instruments, making a career in music almost destiny. She learned to play the guitar and ukulele, and, like many aspiring musicians, put up a few videos of herself singing and hanging out with her family on YouTube. 

After going on a mission trip to Ghana at 15, Castro wrote one of her first songs, “Rescue the Perishing.” With several singles now on iTunes, she has continued to write her own music. 

“When I have no clue how to say something or how to process something that’s in my life, I write and what comes out is what I’ve been trying to say,” Castro said. “Writing helps me understand life and understand myself.” 

During her senior year of high school, Castro received a sponsorship to post song covers on YouTube. Castro describes herself as belonging to the singer-songwriter genre and compares her style to artists like Ingrid Michaelson and Colbie Caillat. Her covers showcase a variety of musical interests from Beyoncé to Lorde. One of her most popular videos is a cover of “Roar” by Katy Perry. 

Many of her videos feature her two older brothers, Michael and Jason. Her oldest brother, Jason, was a contestant on the seventh season of “American Idol.” Castro said that his experience has helped her on her musical journey.  

“Everything I know about music is because of them,” Castro said. 

Beyond collaborating with her brothers, Castro stays busy performing. From weddings to charity events, her weekends are full. Although she is currently majoring in communication studies, she hopes to go into the music industry after graduation. 

“I love what I’m studying,” Castro said. “I love my classes. I love everything about it.” 

Although she said she has become too busy to record a full album or post covers regularly, her time at UT has helped to expand her fan-base. After singing the song “Radioactive” at Ignite, a Christian camp for incoming UT freshmen, Castro said people would stop her on campus and call her “Radioactive girl.” She said she prefers that label over “Jason Castro’s sister” and has enjoyed creating a new identity for herself in college. 

Despite a constant whirlwind of performances and activities, Castro said she’s excited to have so much scheduled. Whether she’s known as Jason’s little sister or “Radioactive girl,” she said she’s looking forward to continuing her music career and seeing where she goes next. 

“When your brother is on ‘American Idol,’ everyone knows your family,” Castro said. “People want to know you not for who you are, but who you’re related to. You want to be known
for yourself.”