Mid-Week Intermission Friend Edition: Advice for Your First Heller Awards

The 11th Annual Heller Awards for Young Artists are tonight! And if it’s your first time performing at Austin’s Tony Awards, you might be feeling a little nervous. So to get everyone in the mood and feeling confident, we sat down with the incredible performers nominated for Best Lead Female to get the scoop on their signature HAYAdvice™️. 

Quiet on stage, please!

Arianna Pierce 

School: NYOS Charter School 

Favorite Musical: Into the Woods 

Advice: My biggest piece of advice would be to take every moment and to really make the most out of the experience, whether you’re in the rehearsal room and you’re learning, or you’re meeting new people, but to really take every single moment that you’re given before being put on stage and use it wisely. 

Chloe VanDeGraaf  

School: ZACH Performing Arts Academy 

Favorite Musical: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 

Advice: My piece of advice for someone’s first time doing the Heller Awards is to just have so much fun and meet as many new people as you can, because this is such a great opportunity to connect with other people in the Austin area who love theatre as much as you do, and just share your passion with everyone and have a great time together. 

Ava Moak 

School: Round Rock High School 

Favorite Musical: Sweeney Todd 

Advice: My piece of advice is if you want to have the most fun, you must work hard and try your best, and that’s how you will have fun. 

Photo by Henry Huey
Sophie Gwaldo 

School: Rouse High School 

Favorite Musical: Cabaret 

Advice: My piece of advice for the Heller Awards would just be to always think ahead. It’s going to be a very busy week and day, and you just wanna know where you are at all times, and what’s going on so you can make the most of your experience.  

Taylor Marshall 

School: Leander High School 

Favorite Musical: Chicago 

Advice: Always, always come prepared ’cause you never know what’s gonna happen and stay positive and support everyone.  

Dia Rushing 

School: Westlake High School 

Favorite Musical: Spamalot 

Advice: This is my first year doing the HAYA awards in person and not online. So I would say my advice is to really enjoy every moment because, you know, being in person with people, doing the things that you love is a really special opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Photo by Henry Huey
Sophia Magnani  

School: Dripping Springs High School 

Favorite Musical: Funny Girl 

Advice: My advice for newcomers is never say you can’t do something. 

Ruby Venkatesh 

School: LASA High School 

Favorite Musical: Wicked 

Advice: One piece of advice that I would give to future nominees is just to take it all in while you’re here. The people here are so talented, kind, and supportive, so just spread the love and bask in it. It’s wonderful. 

Kaya Shellhammer  

School: Jack C. Hays High School  

Favorite Musical: Moulin Rouge 

Advice: My advice for future Heller Awards attendees is to remember that the work is done and it’s time to really revel in the magic that is live theater, as well as a circumstance that brings everyone who loves it together in one place for one incredible night.  

Photo by Henry Huey

Congratulations to all the performers, crews, teachers, schools, and families who participated! We’ll see ya in Dell Hall real soon; tonight at 7:30 to be exact. Be sure to follow @hellerawardsatx on the social media platform of your choice for school shout outs, behind-the-scenes goodies, and winner announcements!

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