By Janeal Downs
Mikayla Lew first became aware of her passion for performance when she performed on stage with a competition dance program. It started with dancing, but with her participation in elementary school plays, she realized that acting was her true passion. From using the body language, to the costumes, makeup and voice, all of these components together inspired her to pursue acting. “My dream role would be to actually star in, direct and write a movie,” Mikayla said. She currently writes short stories such as one short story she wrote on bullying and cyberbullying in high school. She would love to one day convert her stories into scripts and star in the production.
Along with competition dance and school plays, Mikayla also takes acting classes at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) and at HATT Theatre. With a group of friends also interested in the performing arts, she helped establish a drama club at their high school for themselves and other students interested in it. “As Vice President, I have helped create traditions, such as the annual haunted house, designed, built, and performed by students,” Mikayla wrote in an essay. In the club she has helped put on an annual Christmas play which is written by the officers, and they also perform with other schools every year in the Bardathon Shakespeare production. With all of these programs, she has been able to learn leadership and communication skills, all while improving on her acting. Thus far, her favorite performance has been when she played Juliet in her school’s rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Mikayla plans to pursue her dreams by attending a four-year university. Some of her top choices are the University of California, Los Angeles and other schools in L.A. If she gets in to one of those schools, she will definitely pursue acting and gain experience there. However, Mikayla also has a second interest in education. She said her practical top choices in colleges include the University of Richmond and the College of William and Mary where she would major in education and minor in theatre. “I just really love working with children and I feel like they’re the minds of the future. They’re really, really sweet and they’re very optimistic about the world,” Mikayla said about why she was interested in education. She has already gotten a chance to work with kids as a volunteer with the local Mentoring and Reading Student to Student program.
Along with the MARS program, she has volunteered with the Richmond SPCA and with her school’s writing center. She is in a variety of extracurricular programs, including the Honor Council where she is the Chair. “We have our motto ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and so it’s my favorite thing because it allows me to promote ethics to the school and it also cracks down on cheating,” Mikayla said. With all of her extracurricular and volunteer work, Mikayla still works hard academically, so much that she currently maintains a weighted GPA of 4.65. Currently a senior, one lesson she will take with her to college is to be responsible with time management and make sure to prioritize.
With inspirations to one day join the acting world, one of her favorite actresses is Meryl Streep, someone she considers to be one of the best current actors. “She’s just great in everything, like singing and acting,” Mikayla said. “I just love that she helps out with charities and gives money to causes.” One of Mikayla’s favorite Meryl Streep performances is her role in Mamma Mia!, the musical movie.
Outside of the acting world, Mikayla’s biggest inspiration is her mother. ”She keeps me going. She’s a single parent and so looking at her and how she’s raised me without another person that helped, kind of showed me that I want to be independent like her,” she said. With the support of her mother and her own ambition, Mikayla wants the community to know that she means what she says and will work hard to turn her dream of being an actress into a reality.