5 year old Aria earned a spot in the exclusive Model & Talent Expo presented by Mike Beaty! Thousands audition, but only 500 are invited to Dallas for the week long expo. Together, we are making Aria's dreams come true!
We had an awesome yard sale this past weekend toward Aria's Dallas Fund! Thank you so much to everyone who came out and helped support her cause!
Aria has surpassed our expectations pretty much since she was born. She said her first word before she was two months old. When her Nonna told her, "Hi!" and Aria repeated it back, we were shocked. And, okay, maybe that doesn't technically count as a first word, but it did to us!
When she was two years old, she asked to start taking dance classes, and she has flourished there for almost three years now. Toward the end of 2016, when she was only three and a half, she told us - in her most serious voice - that she had decided to be an actress when she grows up. Then she immediately asked if we could put her in acting classes.
As you might have guessed, acting classes for three-year-olds aren't exactly easy to come by in Middle Tennessee. Remarkably self-aware for her age, Aria understood, but said she wasn't giving up. Nearly every day, she would make up a song (or 12) to perform for us, or create an elaborate play for us to act out together. Her creativity and dedication were awesome.
In October, 2017, Aria somehow learned that if she was going to be an actress, she would need an agent. So, as any self-respecting four year old would do, she began asking us if we had found an agent yet. Every fifteen minutes. For days. After researching what to look for when searching for an agent, and how to avoid getting scammed, we called the owner of Tribe Talent Management, Sherry Rhine-Padilla. We told her that our daughter had been begging to get involved in acting for over a year, and that we were searching for some guidance.
Then Sherry addressed the elephant in the phone line. She asked for Aria's age.
The reluctance in Sherry's voice was crystal clear when she went on to ask if Aria had ever performed in front of people, and if so, how she had handled it. Thanks to those two and a half years of dance class, Sherry agreed to meet Aria at her next audition night, on October 26th.
To prepare for her audition, we researched, took head shots, built a website, and made a resume to take with us on our first trip to Tribe Talent Management.
The three of us entered Tribe in a crazy, mixed-up tangle of nerves and excitement. I say it was a tangle because we parents were insanely nervous, and Aria was a crazy ball of excited energy that chose to climb us both like her own personal human jungle gyms. Obviously, you never want to see your child hurt, so we tried to prepare Aria for the possibility that this was just a one-time visit and brace ourselves for the fallout.
The audition consisted of two parts. First, everyone was shown an example of a "model walk" down a taped-off runway on the floor, and asked to do their version.
If the runway had been real, Aria would have walked right off the stage... (facepalm)
Second, each person had to do a cold read. We were told we could leave before this part, since it was late and Aria couldn't read, and Aria was heartbroken. "But I thought I was gonna act!" she declared sadly. Always quick on her feet, Sherry found a script for a child's commercial and read it to Aria, line by line, and had Aria repeat it back with the proper inflection. She started off quiet and timid, but her inflections were spot on, and by halfway through, she even became audible.
We left with no expectations to hear from Sherry again, but Aria had no doubts whatsoever. The whole ride home, we kept practicing that commercial script until Aria had it memorized. She was on Cloud 9. The weekend came and went, and we hadn't heard anything about her audition. At that point, we were certain Aria hadn't been chosen. But Monday night, after Aria was in bed, I got a call from Sherry. Aria had gotten herself an agent.
On November 11th, we returned to Tribe to sign an agency agreement. Tribe is a "mother agency" - an agency that not only represents talent, but also trains and supports them, with the ultimate goal of finding them additional representation with larger agencies in the major markets. As such, Sherry has a group of instructors who teach acting and modeling classes multiple times a week at Tribe. Aria wasn't being enrolled in these classes, because she was too young. So, yet again, as we were getting ready to leave, Aria got upset that she wasn't getting to act. She proudly told Sherry that she had memorized the commercial from her audition, then performed it in front of the room full of strangers.
As other members of Tribe headed upstairs to the first of the latest round of acting classes, Sherry pulled us aside. She offered us an opportunity we never expected - she wanted us to sit in on the class, with Aria, and see if we thought she could handle the curriculum. Upstairs, we met Michael Maples. Aria performed her commercial again for him, a bit quieter than before, and he was very kind to her. We went through the class, watching Aria thrive each time she got the chance to perform. At the end, Aria was enrolled into the full curriculum.
Aria attended classes almost every weekend through Christmas, had three photo shoots for head shots, then attended more classes in January and February. Throughout the entire process, almost every industry professional we encountered told us that she was special. She had star power. She was going to be great.
This whole series of events forced us to consider the possibility that our lives were about to take a very different path than we had ever imagined.
In February, Aria was invited to audition for a spot in Dallas's Model and Talent Expo presented by Mike Beaty. As the most prestigious entertainment expo in the country, it is open only to talent with a mother agent who meets Mike's strict criteria. Thousands of people from those mother agencies audition all across the country. Only 500 are invited to the expo. Aria was one of the lucky few. Mike Beaty even called her his little star.
So, why is this an important opportunity for Aria? This expo brings together top agents from over 50 of the best agencies from ALL. OVER. THE. WORLD. And we're talking high-up agents - people who can make decisions about new talent, not the random "representatives" they send to public expos. Aria will get to perform in front of all of them, over and over again. She will get to learn from them in seminars designed to give talent a leg-up in the industry. She will even get to meet with some of them one-on-one! At the end of the expo, she may find herself with agents in multiple major markets.
Even if she doesn't get signed by a single agent, the visibility and learning opportunities will be a remarkable, once in a lifetime experience.
Not every parent gets the opportunity to make their child's dreams come true, and we are incredibly grateful that we have. Together, we can all make this incredible opportunity the best it can possibly be! If you can, please donate here and share Aria's story with others if you feel so inclined!
Thank you so much!
Our first batch of hand stamped bracelets and necklaces are ready to be mailed out this weekend!
We're so grateful for everyone's support of our fundraising efforts! Please, continue to spread the word and keep an eye out for some fun new ways to contribute within the next week!
We've officially kicked off our fundraising efforts to send Aria to the Model & Talent Expo in Dallas this June. Thank you to everyone who has helped support her so far! This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime, and we are so grateful to you for helping make it possible!
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