Bay pupils dream big

AMERICAN DREAM: Dancer Cassandra Stead from Durban, with Gino Lee and Collegiate High School pupil Jessica Macaulay
AMERICAN DREAM: Dancer Cassandra Stead from Durban, with Gino Lee and Collegiate High School pupil Jessica Macaulay

TWO Nelson Mandela Bay pupils have been given a chance to make it big in the entertainment industry with one landing a role in a New York production and the other collaborating and dancing alongside popular Bay performer, Gino Lee.

Pearson High School pupil Tumi Tsita, 16, and Collegiate High School pupil Jessica Macaulay, 17, represented South Africa at the Arts Convention in Florida last month, where they got callbacks from major talent agencies in the United States.

New York-based Albany Talent Agency offered Tumi a role in Middle School Madness – a production on show in the Big Apple which focuses on teenagers and bullying, where she will play the part of a mean girl, while Jessica received a callback from The Diamond Agency in Orlando Florida.

“I’m looking forward to 2015 and the opportunities it brings. Therefore I’m grateful to all the people who helped me get this far,” Tumi said. “I believe that this is just the beginning; the best is yet to come.”

Both pupils managed to be awarded scholarships, one that will see Tumi attend a four-week Summer programme at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, and a partial scholarship for Jessica to study at New York Film Academy for three years in order to obtain her honours in fine arts.

“This is such an amazing experience for me; there are so many opportunities available to us. I just feel extremely honoured to be networking with the most successful artists and agencies,” Jessica said.

Tumi, who started acting formally in 2007 while enrolled with the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy, landed a lead role in a production of The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe, which was performed at Savoy Theatre.

She then joined the Eastern Cape Children’s Choir and was part of the 10th international concert tour to Europe in 2010 and was one of the lead vocalists on Springbok Radio Top 20 cabaret this year. She also performed So you Wanna Do Drama at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown earlier this month.

“My goal is to make myself more visible by performing in major events in Port Elizabeth and I’ll also be looking for R n B and soul songwriters,” Tumi said.

Meanwhile, Jessica is performing at the Yamaha state theatre in Sandton today with Soweto rapper Owen Kay on a song called Boom Wabble, for the release of his new album.

She also spent time in New York rehearsing with Gino Lee and Cassandra Stead, a dancer from Durban, in preparation for their performance in Orlando, Florida.

Both pupils, who have been singing and dancing from a young age, earned a spot at the Arts Expo after they were spotted by US director and international talent scout Kim Myers at the International Talent Showcase in Johannesburg last year.

Both are grateful to their parents for their ongoing support.

Tumi said her mother is her “absolute everything”.

“She supports me in every single thing I do. She believes in me and my talents and she is always encouraging me … She is always by my side … and I can count on her for anything.” – Chanice Koopman

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