FAME, I wanna live forever...
The iconic musical about the search for showbiz fame and fortune by a group of New York performing arts students has probably inspired many a drama pupil over the years.
And now that dream of enrolling at a school where stars are born is coming true for one Gainsborough teenager.
Sophie Benson won’t be heading for America’s east coast, but to the home of Hollywood itself, Los Angeles.
The 18-year-old, of Richardson Rise, has been accepted at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
She will be heading for the California sunshine next year, but in the meantime has £10,000 to raise towards her course fees.
She is plunging right in by attempting a sky dive at Hibaldstow, near Brigg, on 31st July.
Sophie said: “I wanted to do something really good that not many people would do and that would be an experience for me.”
“I’ve never done anything like it before. I’m not that fond of heights but I’m OK flying so I’m hoping it will be fine.”
“I will be flying tandem, strapped to an instructor, so there will be no going back. I think we freefall for about a minute and then it will be another five minutes down to the ground.”
“I’m excited about doing it and hoping to raise enough to cover the cost of my flight to LA.”
Sophie has just finished three years studying for her National Diploma in performing arts at Lincoln University.
She spotted the advert for the AADA auditions online and decided to apply because several of her acting heroes studied there.
She said: “My favourite actress is Reece Witherspoon and I also like Kim Cattrall and the comedy actor Paul Rudd.”
“I got a prospectus from the academy and they invited to go to an audition in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre.”
“I read a dramatic monologue and a comedy monologue and about a month later they wrote welcoming me as a student. I felt really relieved and really excited.”
Sophie’s mum Anna, 57, said: “She rang me to tell me and I don’t know who screamed louder, her or me!”
“I’ll miss her but it’s what she wants to do and I’m very proud of her and pleased for her.”
Sophie’s love of acting began at Castle Hills School, now Trent Valley Academy, when she was chosen to play a Hawaiian girl in new version of Cinderella.
Sophie said: “I hadn’t taken drama as an option in year nine but after being in that show in year 11 something just clicked and I knew I wanted to do it.”
“I joined Mirror Image Youth Theatre at the Old Nick Theatre in Gainsborough and went there a couple of evenings a week. I got thrown into a production straightaway of Our Day Out, where I played one of the school children.”
“I do get nervous for the first few minutes of a show but then I just relax and enjoy it.”
Since those early acting days Sophie has had her share of lead roles, including a vampire in After Death Comes, as well as learning about production.
Her ambition is work in TV, preferably in America, and she would like to do comedy roles.
She is following in the theatrical footsteps of her two older sisters Alana, 37, and Mel, 32, who both went to the Old Nick theatre group as well.
Anna, who works at Tesco’s, joked: “I don’t know where they get it from, it’s certainly not from me.”
Sophie could have gone to AADA this autumn but decided to defer it for a year so that she had chance to save up for her fees. She has been awarded a scholarship but still needs to raise at least £10,000.
She works part-time as a waitress at Uncle Henry’s and would be willing to do similar work in LA.
She will be living in student accommodation initially and said she hopes to complete three years of study over there.
She is realistic about her chances of stardom but has the determination and the Fame spirit to succeed.
“I know it’s where everyone goes to try to make it in TV and films and I know it will be hard to get noticed, but if I don’t try I will never know,” she said.
*To sponsor Sophie on her sky dive email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07563 618073.