NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island teen wowed the audience the 2019 National High School Musical Theatre Awards last month, earning top honors and a big scholarship.
Ekele Ukegbu could be one of the next big stars to make it on Broadway after winning Best Performance By An Actress at the Jimmy Awards. She was nominated for her performance as the lead in “Aida” for her high school’s musical theatre program.
This year, 86 students from across the country who won regional high school theatre awards were invited to the Jimmy Awards.
“My fellow peers were very welcoming. It was not really a competition because we all value the importance of staying close together, because it’s teamwork. It’s a team effort. There’s really no I in team, so that’s why we were focusing on helping one another when somebody was not doing their best,” Ukegbu said.
Ukegbu just graduated from Elmont Memorial High School and will be attending the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in the fall.
She says she has been singing since she was 5 years old and it was “very exhilarating” to be able to perform on a Broadway stage at the Jimmys.
“Just to perform in front of such a very big audience, for me, it was a very amazing experience. I wish I could do it again just for that, and I will in the future on Broadway, but that’s just the first step. It’s only the beginning,” Ukegbu said.
Two winners from the 2018 Jimmy Awards, Renee Rapp and Andrew Barth Feldman, are currently performing in leading roles on Broadway. Rapp recently joined the cast of “Mean Girls” as Regina George, and Barth Feldman is playing Evan Hansen in “Dear Evan Hansen.”
“[The Jimmy Awards] really builds the path for students who want to be on Broadway, students who want to aspire to be actresses and actors on stage. It gives them a really big hope to do so,” Ukegbu said.
Ukegbu says she has gotten calls from producers, but she’s “taking her time with everything.”
For more information about the Jimmy Awards, visit jimmyawards.com.