When I Grow Up: Zoe Manarel Goes from Matilda Maggot to an American Girl


When I Grow Up, our #Broadway kid alumni series, continues with Zoe Manarel who made her Broadway debut at the age of 9 in the smash-hit Matilda! Since then, she has starred in The Secret Garden at The Denver Center and is now starring in the new American Girl movie “Summer Camp, Friends for Life”, a story about Z Yang (American Girl’s newest doll) who loves film making and stop motion. We talked with Zoe Manarel about her journey to Broadway and beyond.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

When I was little I always sang and everyone said I had a great voice for a kid my age, but mom would say that they are confusing my cuteness for talent. She did not think a 6 or 7-year-old could actually have a good voice so she just ignored them, One day a someone suggested that she take me to someone to see if I actually had some talent, so my mom caved in and took me to a Lady by the name of Becky Baxter Ford, she said I had a very good voice for my age, my mom thanked her and left. A couple of days later we got a call from her asking if I wanted to audition for Annie on Broadway! It turned out that Miss Becky’s husband was Merwin Ford who played FDR in the musical, Annie, and he got me an appointment to audition for an orphan! My mom was NOT very into this but said I could go and see what happened. I went straight into call backs, and had no idea what I was doing but I had a lot of fun and got through the first 3 cuts – I did not book the role but I LOVED auditioning and begged my mom to continue and after a lot of talking with my Dad, they said I could continue, so we went and I did a showcase at A Class Act NYC with Jessica Rolfe and that’s where my Agency, CESD found me! It’s been amazing ever since!

What was your audition process like for Matilda?

I started auditioning for Matilda when I was 7 and of course I was too little – so for the next year and a half they called me back three or four times for the role of Matilda but I didn’t get it – But in June 2015 I was called in for the role Lavender and then a few days later I was called in for finals with a bunch of other amazing kids that were all trying out for different roles – we went in a did the dances and sang and then left – and then a few days later I found out I booked the role of Lavender!

Take us through the moment you found out you booked Matilda.

Well, my mom made a card with a photo of me dressed up like Lavender and it said, “CONGRATULATIONS Zoe! You booked the role of Lavender!!!” and she put in an envelope and made it look like it was mailed to me –

So she went out the mailbox and said I received a letter. On the outside, it was addressed to me but said it was from a secret person –

When I opened it I read it and at first, I got excited but then I thought it was a prank so I didn’t know what to think – when my mom explained it wasn’t a joke I went CRAZY, I jumped up and down and was screaming !!!! I couldn’t believe it!

I have a video on my Instagram that my mom taped when I first opened the “letter” that said I booked the part:


What usually goes into preparing for a performance of “Matilda” (i.e. warming up)?

Wow – there is a lot of daily prep that is expected of the kids – First is that the kids have a 2 hour call time instead of a 1/2 hour like most shows – but it totally makes sense – because of the all the dancing we do, and the scenes with dangerous props like with swings and vaulting, so the 2 hours are used in doing calisthenics, voice warm-up, notes, and safeties for the dangerous scenes – This way the chance of something going wrong was less and everyone was prepared to do their best!

What was it like living in California while you filmed American Girl: Summer Camp?

I totally LOVED living in LA! It has such a relaxing vibe compared to NYC – no one seems to be rushing anywhere. We had an Air B&B which was really nice and close to everything even though we had to drive everywhere but I didn’t mind – I loved shopping at the GROVE and visiting the HOLLYWOOD sign and Grumens Chinese Theater and making my own star on the walk of fame which looked REAL! The whole trip was amazing and I hope to spend more time there in the future.

What was it like filming in the woods?

I loved filming in the woods and at an actual summer camp! It had a cafeteria, bunks, and cool hiking trails, all the things a great summer camp should have. Filming there made the whole thing more real for me and sometimes on my down time I was able to take pictures of the beautiful nature around me. The one crazy thing I saw was a pack of coyotes! I only saw them when we were done filming for the day, around sundown, but I saw them a few times and that was REALLY cool!

Have you ever tried filmmaking like Z does?

Oh I am always making films at home – it’s actually one of my favorite interests – I love filming outside and trying different angles to catch the light in different ways – I usually make the story up as I go , my focus is more on the actual filming – I have my own camera which is a Canon ( not an iPhone) and I love using that to film – I could definitely see myself being a director or cinematographer when I grow up.

Do you have anything fun planned for the summer?

I have one project planned – But other than that I’m planning on seeing my friends, swimming, taking Spanish lessons and I definitely want to see Dear Evan Hanson this summer ( if we can get tickets ) – My family usually goes on a trip but we haven’t planned it yet, but whatever it is I’m sure it will be a lot of fun !

Do you have any advice for kids who want to become professional actors?

I would tell them they need to be committed, and that they need to NOT get discouraged if they don’t book things right away – They need to focus on the Call back, that’s what I always focus on – because only one kid gets the role, but if you get called back that means you did everything right and to me that’s a WIN!!! and now at the CB they need to fit the right actor to the role – My mom told me that its like a puzzle, make-believe the whole puzzle is completed except for one piece – and that piece is a specific size, shape, and color and only one piece will fit into that specific puzzle, so if you don’t get something, don’t take it personally, it’s not because your not talented, you just didn’t fit into that particular puzzle and Dont Give Up there will be lots more puzzles to come 🙂


1) Favorite thing to do in NYC – Go to Broadway shows , play at the park on 43rd street with my friends and EAT !!!!

2) Favorite food to eat in NYC/Favorite restaurant in NYC – I’m a foodie so this is a hard question but I LOVE soup dumplings and shrimp scampi those are my favorite foods to eat anywhere! One of my favorite Italian restaurants would be Becco on 46th street – and my favorite soup dumpling place would be Real Kung Fu Little on 8th Ave, and my favorite place to get something quick and delicious would be City Kitchen!

3) Broadway dream role – I would love to be the lead in an Original Broadway show, BUT my dream kid role would be Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden and my Grown Up dream role would be Eliza in Hamilton –

4) If someone wrote a musical about your life, what would it be called and what is the name of your show-stopping, 11 o’clock number?
“Unexpected” would be the name of my musical, (and it would be in a really cool font so it looks mysterious!) and Defying Gravity would be the show-stopping, 11 o’clock number.

“Summer Camp, Friends for Life” is now streaming on Amazon! Thank you Zoe and mom Laura for answering our questions. Trailer below!

When I Grow Up: MATILDA Kid Akira Golz is Saving the Kingdom in NELLA THE PRINCESS KNIGHT

We continue with When I Grow Up, our interview series where we catch up entertainment pros with Broadway kid roots and talk about their upcoming film/TV/music projects! This month we talked to Akira Golz who recently finished playing Alice in Matilda, her Broadway debut. She lept from Broadway to Nick Jr. a month later to star as the titular character in “Nella the Princess Knight”! Akira plays 8 year old Nella, a princess who fights for justice with her fellow knight Sir Garrett and trusty unicorn Trinket. We talked with Akira about booking Matilda, playing Minecraft, and leading a groundbreaking Nick Jr. show!

How did your performing arts career begin?
My parents actually have videos of me singing from a very young age, so think I was born that way. LOL. But my career started when my gymnastics coach suggested acting to my mom because I’d always sing and dance when waiting in line to use the different equipment. After a lot of pushing from my coach, my mom sent my picture to two modeling agents and it began from there. So I started out as a print model at age 5 and from there did commercials, voiceovers, and musical theater. I began auditioning for musical theater at age 7 before ever being in a theater production. After auditioning for a year of Broadway shows I started doing regional and community theater, which helped me soooo much on my journey to Broadway.


Photo Credit: Akira Golz

What was it like finding out you booked Matilda?
Well I’ve been auditioning for Matilda for about 3 years. The music director at Matilda told me that I was one of the first group of girls to audition for the role of Matilda, I was 7. There was a period where I auditioned for both Matilda & Lavender roles. After that I auditioned for Lavender/ensemble kids, then I got Alice. Matilda has been a big part of my life so when I got into Matilda I was beyond happy!

Describe your Broadway debut.
I was very excited on my Broadway debut. I wasn’t nervous at all. I’m not sure why but it felt like a rehearsal with an audience. I was worried more when I had my put-in.

Did you have a favorite song or scene to perform in Matilda?
My favorite song to perform was Revolting. Because the feeling of the dancing in that number made me feel empowered. I always looked forward to performing it.

What was your favorite thing to do backstage at Matilda?
My favorite thing to do backstage was to play Minecraft with the other kids and I loved making Video Stars. They are videos you make where you lip-sync to a song, like it’s a music video.

What was the audition process for “Nella the Princess Knight” like?
My audition for Nella I could not make the audition in person due to Matilda rehearsals. So we ended up doing a self-tape recording the sides on my phone. Sometimes you do so many auditions you forget about them, but probably a month to maybe 2 months later I got callback. My callback was in person. One month later my manager called me with the news that I booked Nella. I couldn’t believe it!

Akira presenting at UNICEF's 70th Anniversary Event with Chen Lin and Millie Bobby Brown. Photo Credit: Zimbio.com

Akira presenting at UNICEF’s 70th Anniversary Event with Chen Lin and Millie Bobby Brown.
Photo Credit: Zimbio.com

Did you have a favorite Nick Jr. show when you were younger?
Yes! My favorite Nick Jr. show was definitely Dora. I watched that every day before I went to school.

What’s your schooling situation like for “Nella” as compared to Matilda?
Since I record Nella once to twice a week I’m able to go to back to my public school. When I was in Matilda I had to be home schooled, because we had to go in 2 hours early for safeties. So that schedule didn’t work to well for regular school, especially my middle school.

Take us through a typical day in the recording studio.
A typical day is I first warm up on the car ride into the city. When I get to the studio I’ll have some tea, it helps warm up my throat. I go into the booth with the voice director and engineer. Sometimes the director of the show Skypes in from Europe and the musical director from California. The voice director talks with me about what we’ll be recording that day. It could be episodes, songs, promos for the show, pickups (which are changes in the lines), or a video game. Then I start recording. I do each line 3 times with different reactions so they have something to choose from.

What’s your advice for kids who want to pursue a career in acting?
My advice is just to never give up. I kept going to auditions even when my mom didn’t want to go. Another tip is to have a good attitude when you go in. Most of the time people want a kid with a good attitude so they’re easy to work with. Also, don’t be scared to ask questions.


Favorite thing to do in NYC: Either go to Central Park or to any museum.
Favorite food to eat in NYC:
Chipotle. Because there are none where I live.
Broadway dream role: Elphaba in Wicked or Angelica in Hamilton. I can’t decide.
If you could swap roles with anyone on Broadway (male or female) right now for one night only, who would it be?: Either one of the roles I listed above.
If someone wrote a musical about your life, what would it be called and what would be the name of its show-stopping number?: It would be called, Holo There!: The story of a 12 year old wannabe hipster. The best number would be called: Hunty (like honey but hunty. or hun-ty if that makes sense.)

Thank you so much Akira and mom Wyonna for this really fun interview! You can catch “Nella the Princess Knight” weekday mornings at 10am on Nick Jr.! Check out a promo below:

“The Little Mermaid”, Archery, and “Pop from the Heart”: Get to know Sophia Gennusa!

Sophia GennusaWhen you were a kid, what did your school projects involve? Now what would those school projects involve if you’re a 12 year old with a Tony Honor and two Broadway shows on your resume? Tony Honor recipient Sophia Gennusa, who previously starred in Matilda and appeared in Doctor Zhivago, is using her talents for good through Pop for the Heart, a cabaret which aims to raise money to fight children’s leukemia. I (Lindsay) talked to Sophia about the cause as well as her hobbies, what her typical day is like, and all things pop culture she currently enjoys. Pop from the Heart will be held on May 22nd at 4pm at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Let’s jump in!

What made you want to pursue acting professionally?
I have a godfather, John Treacy Egan, and he is a broadway veteran. When I was very young, he exposed me to broadway and performing at young age(4). My first broadway musical was The Little Mermaid, which he was in, and I was so mesmerized by all the magic of the lights, set, and costumes that made it seem so real. After a while, I got caught up in the virtual reality world, and I knew I wanted to perform. The funny thing was, I was REALLY shy.

Who are your mentors/inspirations?
Mostly, I need to give my parents credit for this one because they have been so influential towards my path in life. Even though they were a little surprised at first,(because they knew I was shy), they have supported me every step of the way. Some other inspirational mentors are pop singers such as; Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Ariana Grande. I say this because when they write their own music they let their creativity flow, reminding me to do the same and step out of my shell or comfort zone once in a while.

Other than musical theatre, what kind of music do you enjoy?
I enjoy pop because it has a wide variety of music and artists who create it. Also, I usually listen to it everywhere I go, haha. That’s why I chose it for my cabaret, because I thought it would be really entertaining.

Take us through a day in your life.
Well, like most people I wake up at around 7:30 am and school starts at 8:30 am. My goal is to get to school by 8:00 though. However, I tend to stall a lot, by just being awake in my bed, to lazy to get up, and staring at the ceiling. After I get myself up and get ready I head to school. After school is over, it really depends what I do. If I have an audition though, I try not to get out of school early,(although sometimes I have to), because I don’t like to miss stuff and I take academics seriously. After I head into the city, I make my way to the audition. Most people don’t realize it, but auditions can be really short, like 2-5 minutes short. Even though the actual time in the room auditioning can fly by, the actual travel time getting in and out of the city can take longer. I take this time to do homework. After dinner, I get ready for bed and go to sleep until the next day.

What other hobbies do you have, other than performing?

Some other hobbies of mine include doodling,(sometimes on school papers), dancing, writing, sometimes shopping, and I like to read. Also, I don’t do it as much, but I love archery. My hobbies take up my weekends, since I’m usually occupied on the week days.Pop from the Heart

What is a book or TV show or film you currently recommend?
For books, I recommend “WildWood” by Meloy Ellis. This is because I’ve been really into adventure books recently. For TV, I just started watching “The Flash” and wow, it is so good, I totally recommend it. And for film, I watch a wide variety of things but I just saw “The Jungle Book” and it was unbelievable, you need to go see it.

Explain to us what Pop from the Heart is.
Pop From The Heart is my own cabaret I’m doing to raise money and awareness for Children’s Leukemia. I actually started this with a friend of mine Maddie in school for a project. We wanted to think of an effective way to raise money and we figured, we could do a cabaret. John Treacy Egan is my director and Chris York is my musical director. It is on May 22, Sunday at 4:00 pm. Here is the link for tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/958455 Hope you all can come!

What is the rehearsal process like for a cabaret?
Since I’m performing with some of my best friends for Matilda, Ava DeMary, Oona Laurence, Madilyn Morrow, and Sawyer Nunes it’s a lot of fun to hang out with them all and it is great to work with talented people like them. However, the only thing that is hard about rehearsals is actually having them. With all our busy schedules, it’s hard to plan a time where all of us could meet up. Luckily, we didn’t have much trouble and we worked out times. Sometimes, depending on the show, rehearsals can be really long and tedious, but we tend to shake things up and have fun while singing. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Other than rehearsing material for Pop from the Heart, what else did you need to do in order to prepare for the show (i.e. research, marketing, etc.)?
As stated earlier, Maddie and I chose this as a school project. Once we had decided that we wanted to do a cabaret the next problem popped up, where to have it? In order to do this, we had to call a couple places in Manhattan to ask some availability dates. This is where help came in. Tiffany Schleigh, I want to send a huge thank you. Tiffany has her own organization for charity work as well called Cabaret For A Cause that I have been apart of for 2 years now. that raises money for various reasons such as cancer and homelessness. She helped me out a lot with renting the Laurie Beechman theater and getting the date and time. Most of the other planning consisted of research for the actual topic; Leukemia.

What do you hope to do next in your career?
I really hope I can spread more awareness by opening up the idea of more cabarets across the country. I also want to take a look into film. I have wanted to start doing more movies and TV because I watch so much of it and I really want to experience it.

Be sure to get tickets for Pop from the Heart over at OvationTix.com. Be there on May 22nd at 4pm at the Laurie Beechman! Get more info at WestBankCafe.com.

INTERVIEW: Emma Howard and Jaidyn Young Are Now TOGETHER AT LAST!

[soliloquy id=”5932″]

Teens Emma Howard (Violet) and Jaidyn Young (Annie) grew up in Southern California but didn’t meet until the final callbacks for Annie on Broadway as pre-teens. Last month they performed together for the first time in both California and New York. We talked to them about their beginnings in the arts, their lives as California girls, and how their cabaret Together At Last came to be!

1) How did you two start performing?

Emma: When I was around 4 years old, a family moved in across the street. The mother of the family ran a small children’s theater group and she invited my mother to have my siblings and I participate in their next show, The Wizard of Oz. I was cast in the role of a munchkin, and that was the start of my acting career. It was in that group that I first met Derek Klena who has also gone on to perform on Broadway in Wicked and Bridges of Madison County and Off-Broadway in Carrie and Dogfight.

Jaidyn: I pretty much was ALWAYS around music and performing. When I was in my mom’s belly she was managing a all girl singing group, so she says I heard music 24 hours a day before I was even born. And my older sister was involved in a local performing group so I was always hanging around and watching the rehearsals and shows. When I was 2 I started dancing and singing classes and when I was 6 I was in my first show, HONK! I was one of the little ducklings. Then when I was 7 I got my first professional gig, a soloist in the Glory of Christmas and we performed every night in front of 2700 people during the holidays. What I remember most is that every night I’d get to pet and play with the camels and the baby donkey. After that I was hooked!

2) What came first – acting, singing, or dancing?

E: I started taking dancing lessons around the age of 3. My father claims that I could sing the entire ‘Elmo’ song before I was able to speak in complete sentences. So I guess you’d have to say I started singing first.

J: The singing classes started really early because my mom was a singing teacher, I was always singing! Then the dancing, I begged the owner of the dance studio to let me start before I was 3 (that was the starting age for the studio), he finally caved and let me start dance classes when I was 2 and a half. And the acting started around 6 when I started doing local theater.

3) When did you know you wanted to pursue a professional career in performing?

E: When I was about 9, I was cast as ‘Oliver’ in a production of Oliver for a small theater group in North Hollywood. It was my first lead role. I had so much fun I thought I’d love to do it again and I asked my Mom where the best place to do musical theater was. That was the first time I heard about ‘Broadway’ in New York City. So my goal then was to get to Broadway. Luckily, my mom is very good at networking and finding out what was out there. A year or two later I was accepted into a summer program with Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City. That led to my signing with the Carson-Adler Talent Agency in New York City, which later led to auditions for Annie and later Matilda.

J: At first it was just on a whim that I started auditioning for professional shows, really just to have the experience. Then I got my first job, Glory of Christmas and right after that I got another at a Dinner Theater in Annie. I was Kate and I was only 9 years old. I feel in love with performing and wanted to audition for everything after that. After I had played the part of Annie 3 times I found out about the Annie auditions for the Broadway Revival. Once I started progressing thru the callback process, I needed to get an agent. So that’s what I did and its just been one thing after the other since then.

4) How did the idea for this cabaret come about?

E: Jaidyn and I had wanted to perform together for a while, so when our mothers came up with the idea of a two-girl show we were totally onboard.

J: Ya, Emma and I had met during the Annie auditions in NYC. We stayed friendly throughout that year that we both lived in New York. But when we both moved back home to Los Angeles, we were both in a Cabaret and started talking about how we’d like to be able to sing more than just one song. Then our moms said lets put on our own show and it kinda just got created from our wanting to sing together and sing a lot of songs.

5) How are you deciding what to perform? Is there a certain theme you’re going for or something else?

E: The name of the show is Together At Last, which, of course, comes from one of the songs in ‘Annie’ and we felt it best described how the two of us are finally able to perform together, because while we both ended up on Broadway at the same time, we were in separate shows. We often talked about how cool it would be to be cast-mates, so this is our opportunity to finally do it. Our show explores how we met, what it was like at the final Annie auditions, our Broadway openings and life as a ‘Broadway Kid’, what it’s like now being a ‘Broadway Kid’ in Hollywood and our dreams for the future.

J: Before the show was created, we met many times to discuss how we met and how our time on Broadway was so cool. As we talked thru these sessions the show just kind of created itself. We knew what songs we’d like to sing so we just worked the stories around those songs.

6) What is your go-to audition song?

E: It’s changed over the years and depends on the audition. Right now it’s ‘One Perfect Moment’ from Bring It On. I also like to sing ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from Funny Girl if they’re looking for more belting. I also love the music from “Carrie.”

J: My book of songs has changed thru the years. When I was younger I was always being seen as the “Annie Belter” type. So for a very long time I had this one go to song that was really obscure and no one really had hear about it, but it was a really good song to show off my belt. But since I have gotten back home and my voice has matured, I like to change it up for every audition and I don’t really like to use the same songs over again. It keeps it exciting and I don’t get bored. But I don’t really recommend that. I think its best if you have your favorite audition songs and always use the few that make you sound best.

7) Take us through a day in each of your lives.

E: Weekdays start with school. I attend Los Angeles County High School for the Arts where I am a Dance/Musical Theater major. The school is about 35 miles from my home, so I have to leave by 6:30 in the morning to get there by 8AM. We have our academic classes in the morning, then after lunch we have our arts curriculum for 2 ½ hours. School ends at 4 PM. Before I get home, I usually take a few more dance classes (jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary and hip-hop) at my favorite dance studio where I am in the studio’s company. Once I’m home it’s a quick dinner and time for homework.
My weekends are a little less crazy, but still filled with different lessons (acting and vocal) or rehearsals for different projects I might be involved in.

J: Well, I have chosen to go to a public High School. I really enjoy my everyday life. I usually get up around 7:00 and get dropped off for school around 8:00. Then its school all day until 2, from there I go to Cheer Practice most days or a game that I have to cheer at. Some nights I have Tumbling Class to learn new skills. And I try to have a voice lesson on the weekends. Some days I have an audition in LA and we try to swing by the Acting Coach before so that I can really get the lines down. When I have the time I try to take a Dance Class or go to the recording studio and record a song.

8) Many of our fans live on the east coast. So with that in mind, can you tell us what it’s like growing up/living in Southern California?

E: I think it’s kind of like living anywhere else, except the weather is usually nicer. In the winter, it gets kind of chilly and sometime rainy, but never as cold as what you guys get in the east. In the summer, it’s usually just as hot, but there’s no humidity, so that makes things a lot more tolerable. And, of course, in Southern California it’s so spread out that you have to drive everywhere. So you spend a lot of time in cars trying to get somewhere. Which can also be good because it gives you extra time to review music or go over your lines (since I’m too young to drive my parents take me).

J: Well, most definitely the weather is the best! Nothing beats Southern California weather. Most days its like 70 to 80 degrees. I love where I live. You can pretty much go to downtown LA if you want museums or theater, or Snow Skiing, or Water Skiing, or to the beach, or Disneyland, or Palm Springs if you want to be out in the desert. You can go to any of these places in under an hour. No where else has so many things you can do. But I do LOVE New York City. And I hope to one day call that my home too. The best of all worlds would be if I could have a home in both places!

9) What do your high school friends think about your Broadway experience? How often does your past experience on Broadway come up in conversation?

E: I started into high school right after I got done with Violet. It was the first time I had been back in LA after two years in New York. I tried to keep my Broadway credits quiet because I didn’t want people to like me or be jealous just because I’d been on Broadway. I don’t bring up my past experience much because I want my current skills to speak for themselves, not my past accomplishments. Sometimes my Musical Theater friends will ask me questions about how things were done in New York in comparison to how they’re being done in the particular project we’re doing, and sometimes I’ll be asked what it was like working with a particular actor, but other than that, it doesn’t come up much.

J: I just started High School this year. And I like to keep the two worlds separate. Most of my closest friends haven’t ever seen me perform. At school I’m just an average girl. I play volleyball, like to tumble and cheer and just hang out with my friends at Starbucks. So I don’t really talk much with anyone about my time on Broadway. Of course every once in a while it comes up when someone first finds out, and that’s always fun.

10) What’s been your favorite memory as a performer?

E: My first opening night is a wonderful memory. There was electricity in the cast and audience, walking the red carpet, attending the opening night party. It was kind of like a dream. I also got to go on once as ‘Lavender’ in Matilda. My main role was ‘Hortensia’, but I understudied for ‘Lavender’, which I got to do once. ‘Lavender’ has a rather lengthy monologue in the show, and I’ll never forget giving that monologue alone on the stage of the Shubert Theater in front of a full house.

J: There are so many. Opening night is so very special, the excitement and all the hard work coming to that one magical night was overwhelming and we were all making our Broadway Debut, so that was a really great night. Also, we were lucky to have Jane Lynch join us during the show and her opening night was really fun because all her “Glee” cast came and saw at the show and we all got to meet them and hang out with them at the afterparty! So that was a pretty special night. But probably the MOST FAVORTIE MEMORY for me was the night I got to go on as Annie for the first time on Broadway. The Palace Theater was standing room only and it was filled to to top balcony! I got a standing ovation and I can t even describe that feeling. It was so so very special, and one I will never forget!

11) What are your plans for the future (Broadway, education, TV, etc.)?

E: I plan to keep pursuing a career as an entertainer/actor. Where exactly that takes me, I have no idea right now. I’m working on developing my skills as an actor and hopefully doing some more film and television work. I just recently performed the role of “Becky” in Transparent! It has been so much fun to work with Jeff Tambor, Kathryn Hahn, Gaby Hoffman and the rest of the cast! But, of course, Broadway is my first love so I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time in New York, too. I’m currently a sophomore in high school, so I’m just starting to look into colleges. If I do decide to go to college, I’ll most likely pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which I imagine will be at a school in the East or Midwest

J: When I graduate I want to attend the University of Michigan in their Musical Theater Dept. A lot of the people in our cast went there and I admire all of their work so much. And then, I want to go back to NYC and be on Broadway again one day. That is my number one goal. I want to have an apartment there in the city and just be in the middle of it all. Now that I’m back in LA I am focusing my time on learning my craft and learning about Television and Film Acting. It’s a whole different thing than Musical Theater. I hope to one day have a career where I can maybe do a movie or television and from time to time get the opportunity to be on a Broadway stage again. And have homes in NYC and LA, now THAT would be the perfect life.

INTERVIEW: LYRICS FOR LIFE Unites Kids and Teens to End the Stigma

Photo Credit: Kids of the Arts

Photo Credit: Kids of the Arts

On Saturday March 19th, dozens of talented kids and teens gathered at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in LA for Lyrics for Life, a benefit concert presented by Kids of the Arts for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://afsp.org). This organization strives to prevent suicide as well as provide resources to those suffering from mental illnesses. It also assists those affected by suicide by bringing hope, love, and support. We talked to many of the night’s performers about the important evening!

QUESTION: What makes you the most excited about tonight?

(Note: You can either listen or read a transcript of all the interviews below!)


I’m really excited to see all the amazing performers come together as one big group and just support this amazing cause.

Lexi Underwood (The Lion King)

I’m really excited to watch all my friends perform and get to see what songs they’re doing and getting to support this cause, too.

Issie Swickle (Annie)

Helping with the cause!

Jillian Shea Spaeder (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn)

Helping with the cause and it’s fun singing in front of everybody!

Jamie McRae (H-E-B commercial, The Fine Bros)

I like making people smile when we’re on stage.

Carolyn Dodd (Game Shakers)

Spreading awareness and spreading positivity and I think that’s really all that matters and it’s a great way to spread love.

Jordan Mazarati (Supergirl)

It’s just such a great cause. That’s what make me excited. And to perform!

Joy Kate Lawson (A Little Princess)

I’m excited to perform!

Peyton Ella (Sound of Music LIVE)

I’m excited to perform and we get to use our talents for a good cause and that’s the most amazing thing you can do.

Raquel Wallace (Dream Street)

I agree with everyone. I mean it’s great that we’re performing to prevent suicide and mental illness. So that’s great that we get to do the things we love and support a cause.

Madisyn Shipman (Game Shakers)

I think it’s great because this show is so important with this cause especially for young people because so many people deal with mental illness and are afraid to speak up because it’s not talked about with young people so I think it’s cool to have so many young performers standing for this and it’s been successful in New York so it’s so fun to kind of follow it to LA.

Alex Davies (I Don’t Need To Know)

I’m just excited to be performing for a special cause, especially since [suicide] is an event that’s been happening a lot around the world and it needs to be stopped.

Michael Keith (Macy’s, Verizon commercials)

Well I think that suicide is a cause that can be prevented and all we need to do is fund the research for it.

Casteen Legaspi (FASO Children’s Ensemble)

Well I’m happy and excited to help suicide prevention and supporting this new cause.

Sophie Nack (Truth Be Told)

All the people in the audience and having them here!

Emilie LaFontaine (Les Miserables at Musical Theatre West)

I’m just so excited to be a part of this. I was watching the rehearsals earlier and everyone is so talented. Like, it’s crazy. Like, literally, everyone is just so talented and so I’m just excited to listen to everyone perform.

Jaidyn Young (Annie)

I am most excited to raise money for such an amazing cause. I think [suicide] is a big problem and I think that it’s really an honor to be a part of it and to be able to raise money for [suicide prevention].

Brooke Besikof (Carnegie Hall soloist)

I know it sounds cheesy but I’m really glad that this is for charity. I get an opportunity to perform. Performing isn’t super rare but it’s not super often but nonetheless it’s really special when I get a chance to do it for a cause instead of just pleasure, which it always is.

Major Curda (The Little Mermaid)

Well, I get to sing in front of people I act with, sing with, dance with, and it’s a great cause.

Shane Davis (Matilda)

I love performing with all these great people. They’re amazing performers and I’m really lucky to be working with them.

Lilly Mae Stewart (Annie)

Seeing all the amazing talent. All the kids are absolutely amazing.

Darielle Loprete (Lyrics for Life stage manager)

It’s really fun. I’m definitely on the older end but I remember when I was their age and performing, so that’s really cool to see younger people already getting involved in such an important cause and performing for something that means a lot to a lot of people.

Heather Braverman (Take It Off)

What makes me the most excited about tonight is my performance is – well, I’m singing “Reflection” in Chinese and English, which is really cool because I kind of got to learn a new language. But what makes me the most excited is it’s for a really good cause. All the money is getting donated, so it’ll be really nice to see all of the people that are being helped from this concert.

Chelsea Chiu (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

Same as Chelsea, it’s for a really good cause. And there’s a lot of famous people performing, like Piper Curda and all those people!

Erica Delos Santos (Violinist)

Seeing all the people here to see us!

Scarlet Spencer (WowWee commercial)

Well I’m so excited for all the performers, obviously. Me, and my friend Maddie [Shipman] are also hosting tonight so that’s gonna be really cool. And we’re also performing. It’s gonna be a really fun night and I’m stoked for it!

Casey Simpson (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn)

I think just the fact that this is for such a good cause and there are so many talented people here. Just all of us being able to come together for such a great cause – something that I’m super excited about for tonight.

Riley Curda (Jane by Design)

Just being able to perform with all these other talented people and it’s fun and it’s for a good cause.

Saylor Curda (I Didn’t Do It)

I’m really excited. This is the first time this is being done here in LA and watching the rehearsal and see everybody else do it, it’s really coming together and seeing the whole thing fall into place makes me really excited to be part of it, too.

Glory Curda (Sam and Cat)

I just love singing in general and I love performing in front of people so I’m really psyched to do that.

Kayla DiVenere (Helix)

There’s a lot of great talent here and it’s gonna be so fun to see them perform. I’m telling you, I saw during rehearsals. These people are awesome so I’m really excited, but I think everyone is going to be excited about this. I think it’s gonna be pretty awesome.

Daniel DiVenere (Warm Bodies)

I feel like it’s a really good cause. There’s so many good performers tonight and I think it’s really cool that we got this entire group to come out and we’re all very talented and it’s just really exciting to be here and to be a part of this.


Kelsi Taylor (Singer)