Congratulations to Lilia in Year 8, who has been invited to be an Ambassador for Stagebox Leeds’ Elite team. Lilia has been with Stagebox for the past four years in their Development team, training in dance, singing and acting and Lilia and her family are thrilled with this latest achievement.
We caught up with Lilia, online of course, to ask her about performing arts.
You’ve not only been elevated to Stagebox’s Elite Team, but you’ve also been asked to become their ambassador for the new children auditioning to join Stagebox. How did it feel to be asked to be an ambassador? And what kind of tasks or duties will that role involve?
When I was asked to become a Stagebox Ambassador, I was over the moon and couldn’t believe it because it is a huge privilege to be selected. One of the main responsibilities for an ambassador is to help out at the auditions for new members, showing them the songs and routines they have to learn and generally being a good role model. But this year Stagebox are doing online virtual auditions because of COVID, so instead I had to send in a video with some advice for people auditioning and talked about my experiences over the last 4 years. Only a few lucky children are selected each year from thousands of auditionees and each year we have to earn our space on the training programme. So June is always quite nerve wracking to hear if you’ve been offered a space for another year’s training.
Do you have any favourite aspects of the performing arts? What are they?
My favourite aspects of the performing arts would have to be singing and dancing because when I do them I feel free and it’s like the stage is my second home. The goal of Stagebox is to train us in all aspects of professional theatre, film and TV so that young people are ready for the industry and top drama colleges.
To date, what has been your favourite role that you’ve played, or production you’ve been in, and what made that your particular favourite?
I’ve been lucky enough to be cast in three professional shows nationally, as well as several local amateur productions. I’ve done one every year for the last three years. Most recently I spent five months in The Wizard of Oz at the Leeds Playhouse as one of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins. I loved being part of such a huge show that was near my home town rather than London and just working in the theatre five days a week playing to 800 people every night. It was also amazing to read five-star reviews in the national press as I had never been part of a production created from scratch before. I learned so much in the studio working with the directors and cast. But my favourite role I have played would be an Oakmoor Kid in the UK tour of Nativity! The Musical, it was literally so much fun. The set, props and costumes were amazing and the cast so talented. I made so many friends who I still keep in contact with. Both productions were amazing to work on because the cast felt like a family.
In your opinion, what qualities make a good mentor in the performing arts?
A good mentor is someone who would always support you, find things you need to improve on, because nothing is perfect, and someone who gives you good critique so you can keep developing. I’m lucky because all my mentors tell me just how hard it is to get professional acting or dance work as an adult and so they encourage us to keep networking and keep working hard academically so we’ve got a Plan B. Stagebox brings in the best directors and coaches from all over the world to mentor us. During lockdown, I’ve taken loads of Zoom classes with industry professionals like Dexter Fletcher, Natalie Weiss and resident directors and choreographers from Broadway and the West End.
You joined the Senior School from Junior School. What advice do you have for Junior School Year 6 girls who are now about to come up to the Senior School? What advice would you have liked in Year 6 to make your transition easier?
Some advice for Years 6s coming up to Senior School is to not be afraid because it’s not scary and it’s not that much of a change from Year 6. Just be yourself and go for every opportunity you are given. Try your hardest, even in the subjects you find really hard, and try and do lots of different extra-curricular clubs.
I think in Year 6, you think that Senior School is going to be such a big step up and really hard. When I was in Year 6, I would have liked someone to have told me that it’s just the same school really, and it doesn’t feel that big of a change and that you are ready. You just get a bit more independence and responsibility.
The Mount has a proud tradition of supporting gifted and talented performing artists during their school years. Recent alumnae include Amelia Cook and Elizabeth Dalby as well as Naomi Sheldon, Bella Heesom and of course Dame Judi Dench.