Every Friday, we spotlight a past Joci Awards finalist and find out what they’ve been up to since performing in the annual competition, learn what the future holds for them, and ask them to dish sage advice to future competitors. Look for a new finalist spotlight every Friday, and if you know of a past winner interested in being featured, contact us here.

First, tell us what year, category, song/piece, etc., you performed at the Joci Awards. 2013, 1st place vocalist, “Ireland” – Legally Blonde the Musical

What are you up to now? Are you in school? Working? I am currently a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK. I am a Musical Theatre major there and I am loving every single moment of it. To be surrounded in a community where everyone supports you and wants you to succeed is extremely gratifying. I want to become the best working actor I can be and this program couldn’t be more perfect in that aspect. Currently, I am in “audition-mode” for the upcoming summer seasons in the Oklahoma region. I am also working full-time at a local restaurant and a federal work study position within my major to help pay for school.

What are your plans for the future? I am hoping to graduate soon from UCO within the next few semesters. After I graduate, I’d like to move to Chicago and pursue my craft up north. Another option I have been venturing into is auditioning for cruise lines to be an on-board performer. It’s a tough industry, but I’m more than ready to get out there and work.

Tell us about your Joci Awards experience. What was it like performing on stage of the Empire Theatre? Any other fun memories that stand out? My Las Casas experience was definitely one I will always remember. In fact, it gave me the affirmation that I’m in the right profession. It was interesting to me at the time to be a part of something professional and to work with professionals in the area. Not everyone gets the opportunity to just get up and show their talents to people who are 100% interested in your success. Performing at the Empire Theatre was like being a part of history; there’s so much in the walls. Literally walking backstage and seeing all the shows that have been performed at the Empire’s sister theatre is just plain cool. You can only hope that one day you’ll put your name on the hallway walls.

What advice do you have for future scholarship applicants and Joci Awards performers? My advice for future applicants would be don’t be afraid of rejection, hold your head up high, rise above it and be ready for the next audition. If this is truly what you’re meant to thrive in, your time will come. But don’t just wait for your time to come; you have to put forth the effort and time.

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Your support funds our educational programming, which includes the Joci Awards, Las Casas’ annual scholarship competition where $100,000 is awarded each year, Behind the Scenes, Camp Broadway, and more.