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Young actors bring big personalities, ambition to the BeeKay stage

Grassroots Tehachapi

I love writing columns that showcase people within the community that give back in some way. It could be an artist who makes sentimental pieces for their clients, a volunteer who devotes love to the people they serve or a business that keeps its clients' growth and happiness as their mission.

This column is about Dawnnie Mercado-Genochio, her newly formed Tehachapi Academy of Dramatic Arts and the light she brings to Tehachapi students.

Now, I have to admit – I am a bit biased here. My daughter began taking acting classes with Dawnnie in February and has flourished with the experience. But hey, it's Mother's Day weekend – I'm allowed to boast and brag a little, right?

TADA acting studio has its official grand opening on May 30, but classes have been in session for months, many of which have been preparing for their May 25 performance of "Prince Thomas & The Enchanted Candy Forest" at the BeeKay Theatre.

Having students perform on the BeeKay stage feels "fabulous," said Dawnnie. "This is the second time we'll be at BeeKay. Our December 2018 session of Theatre Creators Kids created and produced, 'Halloween at Christmas,' which performed at BeeKay. We kept that one under our hats as a test run and only invited their parents and a few invited guests. I'm so pleased to open this up to the public this time around."

Dawnnie, along with her husband and young daughter, moved to Tehachapi in 2017.

"We absolutely love Tehachapi and especially the joy with which the city celebrates family life and seems to have a mission to nurture our youth. We fully embrace and are actively seeking to be part of that mission," she said.

Dawnnie has been a professional actor since graduating with a Masters of Fine Arts degree from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1993. She also has a Bachelor of the Arts degree in drama from UC Santa Barbara, is a member of the Actor's Equity Association, SAG/AFTRA and has added the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, EDC and Tehachapi Community Theatre to her list of accomplishments.

"Tehachapi is our forever home, and it's my goal to invest in our community through the arts. Tehachapi Academy of Dramatic Arts is just the start," she said. " I'm happy to be a small piece of this amazing puzzle."

Dawnnie continued, "This is such a creative community. My students are in love with the arts. Not just acting. I have many students who also dance, sing, pursue graphic arts and more. I'm so happy to work with students who actually want to learn. They are supportive of one another in classes and just plain good youth. I look forward to reaching more and more families who support the arts and collaborating with them to meet their students' creative goals."

Dawnnie hopes to turn TADA into an official 501(c)(3) soon, "in order to make classes and performance opportunities even more affordable for those interested."

"I feel very strongly that my path has lead me to Tehachapi at exactly the right time. I'm not much of a believer in coincidences, but rather opportunities that are presented to us should we choose to follow them. I want this. I chose it. And thankfully it's one of the only things I've trained for my entire life," she said.

From a personal (mom braggy side again), I can't believe the changes I've seen in my daughter since joining the TADA class. She has the most creative and big personality, but it typically tended to stay within the walls of our family homes. Since this class, which was a dream come true for her little acting soul, she has been louder and more confident when speaking to people outside her family. She loves her role as a classic fairytale character's little sis, and can't wait for her BeeKay debut. Another thing I love about my daughter's class, the Theatre Creators program, is that the students get to help write the script, as well as perform it.

"For me and my little school it's all about the learning process and for the students to leave with that sense of pride saying, 'I got to do that!' Even more with our Theatre Creators programs, as they also get to say, 'I created that!' On show day we'll be as ready as we'll ever be and we'll enjoy every minute of it, and so will the audience," Dawnnie said.

As of press time, there were still 25 tickets available for "Prince Thomas & The Enchanted Candy Forest," which runs on May 25 at 1 p.m. on the BeeKay Theatre stage, 110 S. Green St. Tickets are $15 and available at http://www.TADAactingstudio.com.

If you're interested in signing up for a summer class at TADA, visit them online at http://www.TADAactingstudio.com.

"It's like I tell my students, 'dare to do something creative every day.' And the way to face your fears and follow your dreams is one tiny step at a time. Just keep moving forward and if you are focused on your goal, your objective, there is no time to be nervous or afraid. That's also a coaching technique I share with my actors. It's about focusing on the goals of the characters and the relationships to the others and serving the story. My students are really beginning to grasp all of that," Dawnnie said.

See you next time, be kind to one another and also, Happy Mother's Day, especially to my amazing mom. I love you!

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected].