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Interview: Catching Up with 2021 Jimmy Awards Winner Elena Holder

The 2022 Jimmy Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, June 27, 2022.

Just last summer, Elena Holder's world was turned upside down when she was named a winner of the 12th annual Jimmy Awards. As a participant from Durham, North Carolina's Triangle Rising Stars, Holder took part in the first ever virtual presentation on July 15, 2021, and was awarded Best Performance by an Actress, along with a check for $25,000 to further her education.

As the 92 Jimmy Awards nominees begin to prepare for the 2022 ceremony (in person for the first time in three years), BroadwayWorld is checking in with Elena to catch up on what she's been up to since her big win, as well as advice for this year's participants. Click here to catch up with her fellow winner, Bryson Battle.

What have you been up top since winning last year?

I just finished my freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill, and recently played Hope in the Kenan Theatre Company's production of Urinetown. It feels so good to finally be performing again. Earlier this year, I got to perform in NYC alongside Bryson and other past Jimmy Awards nominees for the reopening of Broadway in Times Square. This year, through theatre, I have met so many incredibly talented students and performers. It has been such a joy to be back on stage.

You participated in a Jimmy Awards unlike any other. What was your takeaway from the experience of participating virtually?

I learned a lot about the importance of a good self-tape. Presenting yourself well is such an important part of auditions, and because of the Jimmy Awards last year I got to film my first performance self-tapes. Having this experience prepared me for a lot of future auditions. Also, regardless of whether we were virtual or not, it was so cool to meet so many talented and kind students from all over the place.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow participants?

Yes! We still have a very active Snapchat group chat, and I get to hear everyone's audition updates. It's really great to see how supportive everyone is of their fellow nominees' careers. It's such a good thing to have a group of people that you know understand the audition process and who are rooting for you.

If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?

If I could do the Jimmy Awards again, I would try and ask even more questions. While you are participating, you are surrounded by such knowledgeable people, and they are such an awesome resource for young artists. If I could do it again, I would ask even more questions and try to learn even more than I did. It is truly an educational experience like no other.

Is there a piece of advice that you got from one of your coaches that has stuck with you?

The most memorable advice I got at the Jimmys was from the director during a Zoom call with the finalists. I was recording my finalist solo, which I probably took over 20 takes of. I kept sending takes of the song to Van Kaplan to see what he thought. Eventually, after I had continuously asked for his opinion, he said "It doesn't really matter what I think. Which one will be good for you?" That really stuck with me, and I ended up going with my gut on which tape I sent in as the final one. It really taught me that in the end, the most important thing is to be confident in what you want.

Do you have any advice to share for this year's nominees?

Have so much fun! This is such an insane experience and you're going to have a blast. Remember that the point of these awards is not really to compete, but to learn and to meet people who love musical theatre as much as you do. Take it all in and ask so many questions. I can't wait to watch you guys shine!

The Jimmy Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA) program impacts more than 140,000 students who participate in 46 regional high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of touring Broadway productions throughout the United States. Named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, the program has been the catalyst for more than $5,000,000 in educational scholarships.

Click here for a ful list of 2022 nominees!

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