South Delta Secondary grad off to the Big Apple

Tsawwassen’s Sabrina Valana is headed to the Big Apple to pursue her acting career.

The 2018 South Delta Secondary graduate is set to begin her studies at American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ New York campus in September.

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The 17-year-old says she’s let others know since the start of Grade 8 that New York is where she’d like to end up.

“I told everyone that. All my teachers knew that’s where I wanted to be,” she says.

She’ll be taking a two-year conservatory program.

The admissions process included an “intense” audition. Valana, who received a $5,000 merit-based scholarship to go towards her studies, says she performed a contemporary monologue and a Shakespearean monologue. It took about two months to prepare for the audition, she recalls.

“There’s a full process that goes into playing a scene, playing a character,” says Valana, who selected her Shakespearean monologue from Romeo and Juliet.

Valana says when she found out her late acting coach Elizabeth Kemp was an alumni of the academy, it “confirmed that’s where I wanted to go.”

She says she was able to spend a week in New York training under Kemp a few years ago during a time she was going through bullying and worries over sick family members.

“It wasn’t just what I learned about acting. It was what I learned about myself. It healed a lot of old wounds. It just meant so much to me.”

She hopes to explore the New York acting industry after the two-year program.

“I’d love to end up finding an apartment there, actually living there and pursuing my career.”

Valana says she enjoys taking lines on a page and building a character out of them.

“My main goal is to be able to influence other people, make them feel something. And, I just love the way it makes me feel. The whole process that goes into creating a character … that’s my favourite part about it, being able to turn these simple lines into someone’s life. It just seems incredible to me.”

Valana was a student of the Delta Film Acting Academy in Grade 8 and 9. She says the experience made her stronger and particularly helped with the skills she needed for auditions.

Delta Film Academy coordinator and SDSS drama teacher Jennifer Harbott says she wishes Valana the best of luck.

“I am very proud of Sabrina’s ambition and hard work and it has been my pleasure to watch her growth as an actress,” Harbott says.

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts is over 130 years old and became widely known as the Cradle to the Stars during the 20th century, according to its website. Its New York campus is located in Midtown Manhattan while the school opened a Los Angeles campus in the mid-1970s.

Academy alumni include Robert Redford, Danny DeVito, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Paul Rudd.

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