To perform on Broadway has been a dream since I was a little girl. Thanks to the Jimmy Awards, at 18 years old I’ve had that opportunity. After performing at the Jerry Herman Awards in Los Angeles for my nomination as Velma Kelly in Windward School’s production of Chicago, I was awarded the experience of a lifetime for a Broadway dreamer. I wasn’t expecting this trip to New York so when it was time to go, I was overcome with feelings of excitement, fear, and curiosity. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
It took a lot of dedication and hard work. The first night at NYU Tisch, after a few quick hellos to new friends from around the country, we got right to work learning the music for the opening number which combined musical snippets from several shows including Once On This Island, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, and Mean Girls. And the first morning, we began staging. On the second full day, we were split into two groups; a medley group and a production number group. As we all hurried to go check the lists, I found my name listed under the production group.
Since everyone was the lead in their high school musical, I was wondering how anybody was going to feel about not being the star of the medleys. I learned quickly that after a disappointing video audition due to a throat infection, the person in the back most of the time was me. I won’t lie. Originally, I struggled with how to make my voice heard and how I could be seen when I was in the back of most of the number and I’m only 5’3”. It took some time for me to get used to it and I did my best to make the most of where I was. I had to keep reminding myself that I was one of eighty kids out of 100,000 who would do anything to be in the back of the opening number at the Minskoff Theater on Broadway. It was hard but the most important thing I learned while I was there is “you are enough,” so I had that running through my mind throughout the week.
Usually I like to add my own special flair to the dance moves or the vocals, but in this case, we were told to act as a unit, an ensemble, and to add a unique flair, but in a different way. We needed to find the flair from within ourselves without drawing specific attention to us. So...I went with it. I found the flair within myself. One of the greatest parts of being a part of this ensemble was learning from the other nominees. I learned more about the fundamentals of acting, singing, and dancing but I also learned about professionalism and “rules of the theater.”
After all that worry that I was at the back of the group and how to add my own flair, I won a Jimmy Award for Best Performance in an Ensemble! This experience taught me never to give up even when the going gets tough. It is a week I will never forget.