“… From there I’d like to get recognized from SNL and have someone ask, ‘Can you sing?’ Actually, I can sing. I’ll whip it out of the back of my pocket,” she says with both longing and respect.
“So then, they will put me in some movie musical because I have the look.
“And then I can have a great dramatic part and then end my career with a great Broadway show, like the great Carol Burnett. She is my idol,” says Darrow, who lives in Cutler Bay.
Passion like Darrow’s is one of the hallmarks YoungArts looks at when judges make their annual selections from the applicants.
“These are the most talented young artists from around the country, and there’s a reason they’ve gone on to be the Kerry Washingtons and Viola Davises and Vanessa Williamses and Josh Grobans,” says Paul Lehr, the foundation's executive director. “These are the next generation of great American artists.”
Supporting such talent emotionally and financially was the goal set by Ted Arison, the late founder of Carnival Cruise Line, and wife Lin, when they established the foundation in 1981. Since then, it has granted 16,000 students with more than $6 million in monetary awards and facilitated $100 million in college scholarships. Harris, 17, a member of that next generation who lives in Miami Shores, still can’t believe he has reached this position.
“I wasn’t expecting to hear back so soon,” the New World senior says. “It’s nice to be rewarded for hard work. ... I’m excited to meet other young people who share the same interest as mine and the same community of artists I’ll live with and grow with through my life, and I will take in everything I can.”
Rodriguez, 17, hopes the YoungArts victory opens college admissions’ doors, especially those at Kenyon College in Ohio, her dream school.
“I can consider schools I would never have looked at if it weren’t for YoungArts giving me that push,” Rodriguez says.
Grenier, 36, offers a message to the up-and-comers: “I would say you have a friend in YoungArts. They are there to support you. That’s not to say you’re necessarily going to be able to make a healthy living at being expressive in the arts. But it’s a cultivation of creative expression that is a tool, a tool everyone should develop and use in order to express what is inside you and utilize for your everyday work.
“I think supporting the arts and cultivating it in young people is invaluable in society,” Grenier adds. “You’re creating holistic, expressive young people who, I think, will grow up to be better members of society ultimately. It’s so easy for people who are anti-arts funding to make arguments over the math of it, but the importance of the arts is more profound than meets the eye.”
For some YoungArts alums, reconnecting with their fan base reminds them to keep a focus on the skill set that led to their award. Last month, dancer/musician and Nickelodeon How to Rock star Max Schneider, a 2010 YoungArts alum, drew hundreds of excited kids to the new YoungArts headquarters and multi-disciplinary campus at the converted Bacardi building on Biscayne Boulevard so they could see how a YoungArts finalist rolls.
Though the new $10 million, 3.3-acre converted Bacardi property won’t be featured among this week’s public arts events, the site got an early workout when Schneider performed a flash concert on the grounds for his fans.
“I love singing and acting, love performing and making people happy. YoungArts was a huge part of making me realize that’s what this is all about. I’m coming back to perform at the gala and am so excited,” Schneider says. “Everyone at YoungArts, we reminisce with each other, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have an incredibly special week in Miami for YoungArts.”
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