When Michael Brooks, 15, of Southwestern High School, participated in an audition for the ARTS in Erie he never could have imagined where it would take him.
As a result of the audition, Michael was one of about 400 individuals from around the world invited to participate in the five-day talent competition called Applause Rising Talent Showcase held in Orlando, Fla. on June 27 through July 1. While there he got the chance to compete and perform in front of casting directors, agents, managers and an audience of hundreds.
Before the audition Michael had never done any acting, not even in a school play. But, he had a calling, he said.
Michael Brooks, 15, of Southwestern High School, won four trophies at the Applause Rising Talent Showcase held in Orlando, Fla. on June 27 through July 1.
"One day I came home from school and my mom asked me if there was one thing I could do that I knew I'd be successful at, and I said acting," said Michael. "She told me then that I'm supposed to pursue that dream."
Two nights later his mother, Jillian Brooks, heard about the ARTS in Erie audition and decided to get Michael involved. He found out he'd be competing the night before the event and went into it without any prior coaching or experience. After the audition he was invited to the ARTS competition in Florida. Since he was the only participant from the Chautauqua County region, he was paired with a group from Cleveland.
During the first day of competition Michael performed a one-minute monologue and shot a TIGI commercial on camera.
"I really wasn't that nervous even though everybody was saying I should be," said Michael. "I don't really remember what happened because I zoned out in the moment of performance."
After his TV commercial he was sought out by guest star Chad Broskey whose resume includes hit shows such as Disney's "Suite Life of Zack & Cody," "Wizards of Waverly Place," many national commercials, and he has worked along side of actor Judy Greer and writer-executive producer Ashton Kutcher on the ABC show "Miss Guided."
"Chad told Michael that he did really well on his commercial," said Jillian Brooks. "And that he was hearing a lot of 'chatter' about him from the judges, so to expect a lot of interest and callbacks. He also gave Michael a couple pointers."
"Throughout the week Michael's passion for performing grew as he saw extraordinary performances and performed on stage in front of hundreds of supportive audience members," she continued.
During an award ceremony on the final day the top performers in each category were recognized and awarded a trophy. Michael never expected that he would win any of the awards because of all the talented performers that he had the privilege to meet during the week, he said. But, he was elated to hear his name called as the second place winner of the TV Commercial category. Yet, it didn't end there. To his amazement he was repeatedly called on stage and by the end he had won second place trophies in TV Commercial and Photography Modeling and first place trophies for Fashion Runway and Creative Runway.
"The closest thing to a big audience I've ever had was playing in a football game," said Michael. "I wasn't expecting to win anything, but I won four trophies and got eight callbacks."
Since the ceremony Michael has received callbacks from many agents and managers from agencies including: Chelsea Talent of NYC; Maverick, Discover Management, and Rage Talent of Los Angeles; Boom Models of Milano, Italy; Cinq Deux Un Co of Tokyo, Japan; and Images of Calgary, Canada.
In addition to competing in both acting and modeling throughout the week, Michael also met a number of talented new friends that he plans to stay in touch with including some from Africa and Australia.
Michael is very excited about everything that has transpired, he said. But he has not yet chosen what path he will take. In the meantime he wants to gain more experience and grow as an actor. So, he is looking at local avenues to do so. He's now enrolled in drama, and hopes that when he graduates high school he will be able to attend the Juilliard School of Performing Arts in NYC or New York Film Academy. He is also working towards getting a football scholarship to attend a big name college.
Growing up in the Jamestown area has had a huge influence on Michael's interest in acting, he said.
"While growing up I wanted to be like Lucille Ball," said Michael. "I wanted to be a big Hollywood actor from a place that's not very well known. I want to be one of those success stories that people talk about. Or maybe even like George Clooney, or an actor who makes the whole world laugh."
Michael is sponsored by Town & Country in Sugar Grove, Pa., Superior Energy Innovations, and friends and family whose donations helped make everything possible.
Videos of Michael's performances at the talent showcase are available on YouTube by visiting http://youtu.be/ZDW5uJMbaaw and http://youtu.be/vQ_oWlHKxoU.
For more information contact Jillian Brooks at 499-5476 or visit theartstalent.com.