Rising young Bundaberg performer Jamelia Barnes has been awarded a prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) scholarship.
Jamelia, 13, was arriving home from school camp when she heard the news she’d been given the Open Equity Scholarship to attend NIDA during the September school holidays.
“I started squealing and the bus driver was worried I’d hurt myself!” Jamelia said with excitement.
“He thought I’d had my foot cut off or something. I was so excited!”
NIDA is considered one of the top acting schools in the world, and was the training ground for its most famous graduates Cate Blanchett, Mel Gibson and Baz Luhrmann.
Jamelia said the four-day course at NIDA was something she’d dreamed of. Now it's coming true she's grateful for the support given to her by teachers and mentors in the Bundaberg Region.
“I have been singing for a long time, but I only started performing about one-and-a-half years ago here in Bundaberg,” Jamelia said.
“I follow in my mum’s footsteps, and enjoy singing pop, ballads and musical theatre.”
As part of NIDA’s 60th anniversary, NIDA Open committed up to $25,000 worth of complimentary tuition to help young people who are experiencing barriers to participate in the arts including, financial or other disadvantage to achieve their full creative potential.
Jamelia said the scholarship she received was for people in regional areas who may not have the same opportunities as those from the big cities.
The NIDA scholarship will open doors for the young Bundaberg performer.
Love for the stage
Jamelia started performing at a young age and although singing came second, she hoped her time at NIDA would refine her vocal skills in musical theatre.
“I was in the recent youth performance of Legally Blonde and it was a lot of fun,” she said.
The extroverted St Luke’s Anglican School Year 8 student said she was in several choir and drama programs at school and thanked her teachers for their support.
“I am just really excited about going to NIDA and really want to refine my technique for musical theatre,” Jamelia said.
“I have had so much support from my teachers and music teachers, Bex at the Playhouse and Jo Carr.”
Jamelia’s mum Jenny Barnes said the NIDA Open Equity Scholarship was a highly sought-after program and she was proud her daughter had been accepted.
“It’s a big deal. I was told there were a lot of applicants and her teachers are also so excited,” Jenny said.
“I took the phone call when I was shopping and couldn’t contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait to share the news with Jamelia.
“The program is an amazing opportunity for people who live in regional areas. People who live in big cities have exposure all the time and this will help give Jamelia experience and possibly open some doors for her.”
What’s next for Jamelia Barnes?
Earlier this year Jamelia was awarded the Most Promising Vocalist award at the Bundaberg Eisteddfod, which Jamelia said came as a shock.
“I went with some friends and all of a sudden they called out my name (for the award),” Jamelia said.
“I was surprised, I had no idea and was very excited!”
Along with eisteddfods the teenager has taken to the stage at a number of local events, including the Moore Park Beach Festival, Lighthouse Festival, Relay for Life, and the main act at the Zonta centenary dinner recently at Rowers Club.
Jamelia said the next step for her after NIDA would be to audition for the Playhouse Theatre's Mary Poppins performance.
“I don’t mind what part I play – maybe in the chorus, I will be happy with anything,” she said modestly.
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