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Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2

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The Jimmy Awards return as a virtual ceremony on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

It's just under one week until the biggest night in high school musical theatre! The Jimmy Awards officially return as a virtual ceremony on Thursday, July 15, 2021. View the full list of nominees!

Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2

As presented by the Broadway League Foundation, the program has, in past years, invited two nominees from each of these regional ceremonies to New York City to participate in a theatre intensive including coaching and rehearsals with Broadway professionals in preparation for a one-night-only talent showcase on a Broadway stage.

In no particular order, BroadwayWorld is getting to know this year's nominees! Below, get to know just a few, including: Jada Bunch, Miguel Gil, Nathan Hiykel, Laëtitia Hollard, Grant Pace, Nicaya-Isabella Rios, Katie Smith, Zachary Sullivan, and Kelly Whitlow.

Be sure to check back later to hear from even more Jimmy Awards nominees and view Part 1!


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Jada Bunch

School: Northpoint Christian School

City, State: Southaven, MS

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: Cynthia Erivo because her passion for her craft is so evident in her work. She pours her heart into every performance, and it is so inspiring and encouraging to see a performer who looks like you doing what you love.

Looking Forward To: What I look forward to most about this year's Jimmy Awards is getting to work with such talented individuals. It is such an honor to be nominated, and I can't wait to soak up as much knowledge as I can.

Arts Education: I am blessed to have such supportive and encouraging educators. They taught me to never let fear get in the way of my gift and to proudly take up space. They have always had my best interests at the forefront of their minds for which I am forever grateful.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Miguel Gil

School: Windermere High School

City, State: Orlando FL

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: The performer I most look up to is Hugh Jackman. He is an incredibly versatile actor who I believe can play pretty much any role! From the Wolverine to The Boy from Oz, he has such an array of talents both on screen and onstage. I strive to have that versatility and i especially look up to the fact that Hugh Jackman has done just about everything from stage to screen, that is something as a performer I want to achieve.

Looking Forward To: What I'm most looking forward for this years Jimmys is the friendships I'm gonna get the opportunity to make! There are so many incredibly talented individuals participating that I'm excited to get to know and connect with.

Arts Education: My musical theatre teacher, Mrs. Bambi, has had an incredible impact on my life! She; in many ways, helped guide my path into musical theatre. She always pushed me to be a better performer as well as a human. On many occasions she took of her teacher hat and put on a friend/therapist/ anything I needed hat. She was also the first person who believed in me! I'll never forget the day she told that I have potential, and if I wanted to, I could do this for the rest of my life. Since that conversation the course of my life has changed. I am now going to college to study Musical Theatre and I'm excited to meet more teachers like her who are just as passionate if not more passionate about musical theatre as I am. I am so incredibly grateful for all of the arts teachers I got to learn from throughout high school because they all encouraged me and helped me immeasurably.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Nathan Hiykel

School: Blair High School

City, State: Omaha, Nebraska

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: I really look up to Andrew Rannells because of his immense talents and he is from my hometown.

Looking Forward To: I am looking forward to meeting the other nominees and making lifelong friends.

Arts Education: I have had two wonderful drama directors who have taught me to always push myself and never give up.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Laëtitia Hollard

School: McFarland High School

City, State: McFarland, WI

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: Oh goodness! I look up to so many performers, but I think the performer I look up to the most in the musical theatre world must be Audra McDonald. Her ability to carry a story through music constantly inspires me. Audra McDonald was the first person I looked up to because she was one of the only performers of color I could on televised musical productions as a child. I would replay her reprise of Annie because I could see my mother in Audra's eyes and soothing voice. I watched her performance of Lady Day recently and which reaffirmed my love for her. I was completely astounded by how much she could morph vocally and physically. It truly proved her mastery after so many years in the industry.

Looking Forward To: I'm really looking forward to seeing how all the videos will turn out. We have done so many technical things these past 12 days (fixing our backdrops, working on lighting, figuring out how to get the perfect camera angle, driving to special locations, and more) that I really want to see how our hard work came together. It'll be a bit of a surprise for us too!

Arts Education: I've really seen how art education has helped me become a more involved citizen and gave me a strong interest in social studies. I think the reasoning for both can be traced back to the empathy that is essential to portraying a character. I've become a very strong empath as I literally put myself in the shoes of someone else's life. I am 100% a Hufflepuff and I have Harry Potter personality tests to prove it. When it comes to social issues I can never turn a blind eye, so I've helped many different movements and groups (Sunrise Movement, Black Lives Matter, and Black Umbrella). I think if more people spent time in the theatre there would be an increase of much-needed empathy in this world. I also became more interested in Social Studies. I was always bad at English classes and social studies -- perhaps because I was struggling a bit with learning multiple languages. However, after a couple of years in theatre, I started seeing history on a more personal level. I saw the actual people who lived behind the words in my textbook. Once that was unlocked I grew hungry to learn more. Now, social study classes are my absolute favorite.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Grant Pace

School: ZACH Performing Arts Academy

City, State: Austin

Graduation Year: 2022

Look Up To: I really look up to Colton Ryan. He is such a strong performer and I absolutely just love his voice. I've been following his career for a few years now and I can't wait to see him in the upcoming Dear Evan Hansen movie!

Looking Forward To: I am most excited to see how the final production of The Jimmy Awards turns out this year. Because this year was the first time that The Jimmy Awards has ever been produced virtually, even the nominees must wait until July 15th to see the finished product. All the nominees have worked remotely on different portions of the show and the production team has the task of putting everything together. Everyone is so amazingly talented and I can't wait to see how everything finally comes together!

Arts Education: My arts education has been absolutely essential to my personal growth and development. I've had the unique opportunity to attend high school on the campus of an equity theatre (ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas). Learning directly from working professionals and being around creative and talented friends has given me so much confidence as I approach college auditions this fall.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Nicaya-Isabella Rios

City, State: Albany, NY

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: The performer I look most up to is Lea Salonga. Through her career she has had several opportunities to star in Broadway productions but she also was able to represent diversity on the stage even before the 2000's which is very important to me personally. Being of Mexican-American descent, having such a powerful role model growing up who always was able to represent her cultural background has made my growth as a performer only grow stronger.

Looking Forward To: I am most looking forward to seeing the show come together live! With all the amazingly talented nominees in this years Jimmy Awards I am so excited to see everyones talents showcased. I also am looking forward to reaching out and making connections with my fellow nominees even after the Jimmy's are over as we all now have this experience together which no one could ever replace!

Arts Education: Education in the arts has helped me from a very young age and is extremely important to me. When I was very little my father was in the United States Marine Corps and he wasn't able to be home for most of my childhood years. With my amazing teachers I was able to find a passion for music and began singing publicly around 5 years old. From the first moment I stepped foot on stage I knew that I couldn't stop performing and I haven't since. I began musical theatre when I was 7 years old with guidance from my second grade teacher who brought our whole class to see her perform on stage. Although the show was technically a play there was singing at the end which to me classified it as a musical. When I learned you could combine performing on stage with acting I never turned back and my love for the arts has only grown.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Katie Smith

School: Plymouth Whitemarsh High School

City, State: Plymouth Meeting

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: The performer who I look up to the most is Billy Porter because he is always unafraid to be himself. His passion for his craft always inspires me to work harder and to focus on what I love. His comfortability with himself and who he is has also inspired me to feel comfortable with myself, and have faith in my talent.

Looking Forward To: I am most looking forward to seeing my fellow nominees perform. They all are so incredibly talented and inspiring, and I can't wait to cheer them on. The friendships that we formed through The Jimmys are sure to last a lifetime.

Arts Education: Arts education impacted my life immensely. As a kid, I was never sure of who I was. I had so many questions, most of them complex and convoluted. I wasn't sure about how to get the answers for them. I felt lost, unsure of who I was, and empty. It was through education in the arts that I began to find myself. Some of the hard questions were answered, and I could finally see myself for who I was. Because of arts education, I became who I am today: A proud and confident individual who will achieve their goals.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Zachary Sullivan

School: Minnetonka High School

City, State: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: I most look up to Derek Klena. Not only because he's an extremely talented performer, but because he's also such a kind and genuine person. He stands up for what he believes in and shows so much care for others, and I admire that.

Looking Forward To: I'm mostly looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. We spent so much time rehearsing, recording, and filming, and I know that the final product is going to look amazing. I'm so grateful that I got to share this experience with such an incredible group of people.

Arts Education: During my sophomore year of high school I met Jennifer Crist, who quickly became not only my dance teacher, but also one of my closest friends. She has been nothing but kind to me since the day we met, and will always be one of my biggest heroes.


Meet the 2021 Jimmy Awards Nominees- Part 2 Kelly Whitlow

School: Ravenwood High School

City, State: Nashville, TN

Graduation Year: 2021

Look Up To: I most look up to Lauren Patten because her performance in Jagged Little Pill left me speechless. I've never been so moved by a performance in my life and I have never forgotten about that ever since.

Looking Forward To: Seeing how talented everyone is!

Arts Education: Brian Kaufman was one of my theatre directors in high school. He is the most incredible teacher I've ever had. Not only does he care so much about teaching and his craft, but he cares so much about his students and their successes. He brings hope and light into student daily lives, and he sees potential in people that most others can't see. He has made a huge impact on my life, and I know he's done the same for many others.


For more information about the Jimmy Awards, visit: JimmyAwards.com.


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