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Interview: 2022 Triangle Rising Star Winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson

Young NC performers are headed to the Jimmy Awards

Interview: 2022 Triangle Rising Star Winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson

On Wednesday night, I got to attend the Triangle Rising Star Awards at DPAC. They are part of the National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards, which celebrate achievement in high school musical theatre. After the ceremony, I got to chat with the Best Actor and Best Actress winners Joshua Thompson and Symoné Spencer.

Joshua is a junior at Weaver Academy and performed "Time" from TUCK EVERLASTING earlier in the night. Symoné Spencer, a senior at Enloe High School, was a part of Triangle Rising Stars last year as well. She performed "Don't Rain on My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL.

Nicole Ackman: First of all, congratulations! First, can you tell me how you ended up submitting? Did you submit through your school or individually?

Interview: 2022 Triangle Rising Star Winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson Symoné Spencer: I submitted individually. My theater teacher did send it out to our school and she let us know about it.

Joshua Thompson: I also submitted it individually. Even though the judges came to my school to review the show, I still submitted for a different role.

Nicole: What made you choose the song in the role that you submitted?

Symoné: So this song ["Don't Rain on My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL] was actually suggested by one of my voice teachers. And it showed my range, but also I was able to connect with the song, like something that I wasn't able to connect with before. It showed a different side of me that I had never seen before, so I just wanted to show that to everyone else.

Joshua: I wanted to be on the stage so badly. I knew about this competition for a while and I was actually like putting in my notes like, oh my gosh, what song should I submit? It would change every week. But I had an acting lesson with my coach and she was like, "Joshua, I can see you singing this ["Time" from Tuck Everlasting]; it fits perfectly in your voice. Try this." And so it was the same week as I was just finishing up being in Anastasia at my school. I was listening to this song over and over again, trying to get it in my head. It was a Sunday, it was the last show of Anastasia. So right after that, I came home and put up my blue screen and the ring light and I just jumped into action.

Interview: 2022 Triangle Rising Star Winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson Nicole: Awesome. What was your favorite part of tonight or of this whole experience?

Symoné: The people. The people are outstanding. I don't think I've ever met so many people that have been interested in the same thing as I am. And we were so connected, so loving. It never felt like a competition. It just felt like love. It just felt like a family.

Joshua: The same thing, it felt like family and home. Especially us moving into this theater we've never been to, but it just felt like home. We were all just like our artistic directors' children. It just felt so that's awesome.

Nicole: So what does this award mean to you?

Symoné: I actually did TRS last year and Elena won. She's amazing, so outstanding. But, this is my senior year and I sort of went into it, like, "I want to win and I'm going to put in everything that I have to win this award. But no matter what, it's about the experience." And I think that I got lucky because I got both: I got the experience and I got the award. So it was just great.

Joshua: It means home, love, and family to me. I came in thinking the same thing like, "Oh, my goodness, this opportunity is perfect for me." But then throughout the rehearsals, it just felt like it was just a learning and growing experience. To get to know everyone and myself and my artistry more.

Nicole: Have either of you been to New York before?

Symoné: Not for a show or anything. I've gone to see family.

Joshua: I've never been to New York.

Interview: 2022 Triangle Rising Star Winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson Nicole: So what are you most excited about with getting to go to New York City and go to the Jimmy Awards?

Symoné: Just being in New York and being around those people that want to do the same thing as me and being able to sort of step into what I want to do as my career. I think that's what I'm most excited about.

Joshua: Yes, definitely. Just being there and standing there. Oh, my goodness, I've only seen it in movies and pictures. So I don't even know what to think. But I'm just so excited and so humble.

Nicole: So what is next for you? Do you know you know what your plans are for the future?

Symoné: So I do plan on majoring in musical theater next year in college.

Joshua: I'm a junior and I'm planning out my college list still and figuring out you know where I want to go and everything.

Nicole: Thank you so much and congratulations again!

Make sure to check out my review of the 2022 Triangle Rising Star Awards.

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