An aspiring Nelson actress is seeing stars after winning a scholarship that will slot her into a New York drama school next year.
Nelson College for Girls year 13 student Claudia Peters won a US$10,000 per annum scholarship to study at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts when she was at "the Olympics of performing arts" in Los Angeles.
Miss Peters, 17, was among singers, dancers, actors, models, instrumentalists, and variety artists from 50 countries who descended on Hollywood to compete in the World Championships of Performing Arts at the end of June.
Awards and US$130,000 in scholarships were up for grabs in the annual event founded by Griff O'Neal, the former executive of the Miss Universe pageant.
Miss Peters took part in an action-packed week, with practice casting calls, auditions, workshops and performances.
The experience cost her about $7500, but it was worth it.
She came back with a silver medal, a bronze medal, an industry award and the US$10,000 per annum scholarship.
Miss Peters plans to move to New York to take advantage of the scholarship this time next year, but first she has to finish school.
Miss Peter's father, Steve Peters, said he was very proud of his daughter whose two biggest goals were to study in the United States and to work in the acting industry.
Mr Peters said she fundraised and worked part-time to help pay for her trip to Los Angeles and it was “wonderful” that it had paid off.
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity and she has been working towards this for ages,” he said.
Miss Peters said the World Championships of Performing Arts, which she attended with 15 other Kiwis, was an “absolutely amazing” experience. They attended seminars with industry professionals and met casting agents and managers.
“It opened my eyes. I learnt so much. It turned out to better than I ever expected,” she said.
They also pitted their performing talents against hundreds of other competitors, which is how Miss Peters picked up the medals and the $US10,000 per annum scholarship.
The bronze medal was for a monologue she did from The Notebook and the silver for a monologue she did from 10 Things I Hate About You - a 1999 American teen romantic comedy film inspired by the classic Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew.
Miss Peters said performing in front of a packed audience and 10 judges was a daunting experience.
“It was a bit like American Idol, but there were 10 of them. They were all agents, managers and actors. It was so nerve-racking,” she said.
The US$10,000 per annum scholarship was for a two-year course that could extend into three years. New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts recruitment and outreach co-ordinator Wesley Broulik said Miss Peters was a focused, driven, intelligent and talented young woman.
Mr Broulik said he gave out 13 scholarships like Miss Peters', valued at more than US$100,000 in total, at the World Championships of Performing Arts.
“Studying in the United States from abroad is never easy. It's a lot of work for any family to achieve this goal and the scholarships are our opportunity to help,” he said.
Mr Broulik said he believed Miss Peters “has what it takes” to make it as a television or film actress. She had drive, determination and potential, spoke with intelligence and possessed a strong sense of self.
“She is also a lovely person to be around, which counts for a lot . . . The camera loves her. It really does. She also has a fragility that I'm not sure she's aware of. She possesses an openness and the ability to take direction,” he said.
Miss Peters said she would work full time after finishing school and move her life to New York in the middle of next year.
“It's pretty incredible. It still hasn't hit me yet and it probably won't until about July next year,” she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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