Broadway, Ballet, and Beyond: Laurel Springs Junior Leilani Lavallee Shares High Hopes for the Future
When she’s performing, Leilani Lavallee’s voice and personality shine, without a doubt. But when the curtains close, it’s her heart that takes the stage.
Leilani is a Rhode Island girl with big Broadway dreams—but for now, she is shining bright in her community for more than her amazing talents. Selflessness takes center stage, as Leilani dedicates much of her free time to ongoing community service, above and beyond the required commitment for her National Honor Society membership.
Leilani Lavallee is always lending a helping hand
Leilani says she’s always had a love for helping others. She serves with Project Hand Up, a local nonprofit organization and food bank because of its purpose.
"I love their goal and what they’re striving to do,” Leilani says.
According to the nonprofit’s Facebook page, they rescue food that will be thrown out at grocery stores–thousands of dollars worth of perfectly good food, the organization says–and distributes it to families in need without any questions asked. They are a lifeline for so many and an organization that gives a hand up to anyone and everyone.
Leilani works with Project Hand Up once a week, helping to sort through produce and perishables. Often being the youngest person at Project Hand Up, Leilani does a lot of the heavier lifting and pushing carts for the older volunteers she works with, but she says she doesn’t mind breaking a sweat because she’s helping others and establishing a sense of community for herself. In addition, she also finds time for the National Honor Society, acting club, schoolwork, and auditions. She even works with MLR Artists Management to provide Wellness Weekends in Puerto Rico.
“It gives you other experiences that you can use later in life,” Leilani says. “It’s always nice how good you feel after you do something like that, and it’s a good way to meet great people!”
Leilani says finding time for even a few hours of volunteering a month is a good idea for all teenagers. Service can be tailored around what you love, whether it's picking up trash at local state parks or bullying awareness and suicide prevention. The latter is a cause Leilani also volunteers for—helping to facilitate concerts, in-school events, and guest speakers to educate young people on recognizing and preventing risks of suicide.
Be there soon, Broadway
When she’s not offering her time or labor for those in need, Leilani is busy at work prepping herself for the stage, regularly attending local and regional auditions. She participates in an annual summer program called Next Stop Broadway, a rigorous 10-hour, five-day mock Broadway production.
Spending weeks or months learning a production’s every minute detail—each turn of song, each costume change, every line and scene—and finally sharing it with the audience is what Leilani loves about theater. But, she says, her heart wasn't always set on performing.
“I just fell in love with it. Now it’s my passion, my dream,” Leilani says.
A self-proclaimed lover of the classics—think “Spring Awakening”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Wicked”—Leilani is taking her first steps on the long, winding road to Broadway. She aspires to attend theater school in New York or London, with a minor in business or business management.
Inspiration around every corner
When asked who inspires her, Leilani’s reply was simple: “Everyone,” even people she doesn’t know.
A hurried businessman or slow-walking old woman or child on the street are all sources of influence for the dancer and performer—which is usually a good thing, but sometimes not. Awareness is key to understanding and embracing what is going on around you.
“The energy around you doesn’t always make you feel great,” Leilani explains. “But you have to realize that this person could be having a bad day or something horrible could have just gone on in their life. So I always try to think on the positive side and give back good energy even if they’re giving me negative.”
Leilani credits her parents for who she is and who she is becoming, for always being there for whatever she needs. And she extends a special thank you to the retired director of Special Projects and Assistant to the President of the Providence Performing Arts Center, Cynthia Goldsmith, who’s “been there for me ever since I was born.”
A sensitive empath, a kind volunteer, and a passionate ballerina, Leilani spends much of her time serving others. But that, she says, is her calling.
“It could be the worst day of someone’s life. I try to put a smile on their face every time, always.”
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