Started from the Bottom Now We Here!
This week’s blog is about the hopes, dreams, and experiences that led me to Juilliard. I’m going to talk about some of my earliest influences, how I got involved in opera, and eventually, how I made it to Juilliard! I hope you’re able to relate to my journey and even see some similarities to yours!
As a child, I was always a center-of-attention kind of kid. Now that I’m older, my onstage and offstage personalities are not as similar, but as a kid I always wanted to be watched. I was practically raised by the Disney Channel, so some of my earliest musical influences were stars of early 2000s television like Hilary Duff, Raven-Symone, and the cast of High School Musical. I came to New York City at age 7 for a theatre camp for kids, and that was my first and only time in New York until age 17. My parents new I liked to sing but never thought I’d make a career out of it.
The first experience that got me started in opera was at age 9. My mom took me to an open call for a world-premiere opera in which they are holding auditions for supernumeraries. A supernumerary is a fancy word for ‘person-with-no-speaking-lines-who-walks-onstage-does-one-action-and-leaves’. I made $50 and earned my first operatic credit. The second was an audition for a newly-formed children’s chorus at the same opera house. This was the most important experience in my development as a singer. I learned everything I knew before Juilliard from this program. Unlike most people’s experience I found opera first, and then musical theatre (my second love). I continued to sing in children’s operas and musicals until graduating high school.
I sang with the children’s chorus from ages 10 to 14, before retiring from boy soprano. I found a voice teacher during my sophomore year that I worked with until I graduated high school. I was involved in high school theatre on and off for four years and worked with a few coaches in an internship program. I attend a performing arts high school, so any coaching I had was outside of school. During my senior year, I had a few sample lessons with teachers at various schools before deciding that Juilliard was the place for me!
A lot of artists talk about having dreams of an operatic career as a kid, but that really wasn’t the case for me. I loved to sing but I don’t come from a family of musicians, so a career in music was not something I ever really considered. I liked to be onstage, so I just kept trying to improve as a performer. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I really, seriously considered a career in music. I now realize that I never really could have seen myself doing anything else. I had a lot of interests as a kid, but performing was the only thing I was really good at. If I hadn’t ended up in music school, I would have been a teacher. Teaching is sort of like its own type of performing.