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Jennifer Brooks, a senior at North Rockland High School, is a singer, actress and musician who was recently recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation as a YoungArts Finalist in Musical Theatre.
She was among 170 finalists chosen out of 11,000 applicants in the national YoungArts competition that salutes outstanding student work in 10 disciplines across the literary, performing, visual and design arts fields.
The 17-year-old Thiells resident spent a week in Miami in early January where she met other student winners, attended workshops taught by professional artists and performed a solo piece during the student exhibition.
Finalists receive cash prizes, have access to a network of other YoungArts alumni and colleges that may offer scholarships to student artists. They also get to participate in further regional programs held in Miami, Los Angeles and New York in the coming months.
Here’s a full list of winners.
Past YoungArts winners have gone on to become leading professionals in their fields, including: actresses Vanessa Williams (from New Castle), Viola Davis and Kerry Washington; CEO of American Ballet Theatre Rachel Moore; recording artists Nicki Minaj, Chris Young and Josh Groban; musicians Terence Blanchard and Jennifer Koh, among others.
Brooks plays piano and flute but says her real love is singing jazz and Broadway tunes.
Now that she’s back in Rockland, Brooks is preparing for the high school’s production of “Cats,” (March 14-22) in which she’ll play the role of Grizabella.
Her musical theater resume also includes lead roles in the high school’s productions of “West Side Story” (Maria) and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (Miss Dorothy Brown) as well as Fantine in “Les Miserables,” produced by the independent New Generation theater company in New City. She plans to study musical theater in college and hopes to establish a career as a performer.
In the video above, check out Brooks performing “Gimme Gimme” from”Thoroughly Modern Millie” and talking about her experience at YoungArts week in Miami during a recent interview at the NRHS music department.