IF he can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere and now – with a scholarship to study at one of the world’s top film academies – Port Elizabeth musician Gino Swanepoel is one step closer to realising his dream of becoming an internationally recognised performer.
The 17-year-old Theodor Herzl High School matriculant – who goes by the name Gino Lee – has been awarded a scholarship to study at the New York Film Academy after receiving 18 callbacks while attending the Arts Expo in Orlando, Florida.
The film academy describes itself as being “the film and acting school of choice of these other luminaries including Kevin Kline, Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins”.
It has campuses in New York, Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Mumbai and Moscow and students represent more than 77 nationalities.
Gino, of Walmer, will join the academy next year after being scouted at the Arts Expo by academy director of acting admission Rodger del Pozo.
“I feel overwhelmed about this whole experience and so very happy. This scholarship is like a dream come true and I really appreciate it,” he said.
“I am so glad as I know that I have something concrete to pursue after I finish my matric. The scholarship will give me an opportunity to study in the USA at one of the best academies in the world.”
Apart from landing the scholarship, Lee also finished first in the photographic runway, third in singing and in the top five in the TV commercial and cold read categories at the Arts Expo.
Gino’s father, Clive Swanepoel – also his manager – said he was the “proudest dad in the world”.
“My wife and I are ecstatic and very happy. He worked hard and deserves this reward. We will continue to support him with his career,” he said.
Gino started singing in a band, River Road, in 2008. Two years later he won the M-Net star award and later in 2010, he performed as an opening act on Idols. Family, friends and fans took to Facebook to congratulate Lee.
Thandokazi Magopheni wrote: “Congrats Gino, hard work really pays.”
Gino’s songs, including Stories Of Love, are playlisted on Bay radio stations and available for download. He also performs at festivals and functions.