By B.C. Manion
When 13-year-old Gabrielle Giguere headed out to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, she didn’t know exactly what to expect.
She was attending a convention for aspiring performers and her goal was to do a good enough job to get at least a few callbacks.
She had no idea she would do so well that she would win second runner-up in an international singing competition — and would get callbacks from 19 agents.
Now, the Rushe Middle School eighth-grader hopes some of the connections she made at the convention will her land professional gigs — and who knows where that could lead, she and her mom, Sara Giguere, said during a recent interview.
The Land O’ Lakes teenager is not exactly a stranger to singing.
After all, she had her first solo in second grade at Lake Myrtle Elementary School.
She has gone on to expand her repertoire to include acting, dancing and some modeling, and has appeared in some productions at the Wesley Chapter Center for the Arts.
Most recently, she’s been honing her skills at The Actors Studio in Tampa, under the direction of David Martin. She’s also taking private guitar lessons and is learning to write songs.
She was at The Actors Studio when she was selected to attend iPOP in Los Angeles. The acronym stands for International Presentation of Performers. The convention for aspiring actors, singers, models and dancers that draws participants from around the globe is held twice a year in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas.
It’s a place where aspiring performers vie for the attention of industry professionals, hoping the networking they do there will lead to some gigs.
Gabrielle auditioned for acting, which involved performing a scene, a television commercial and a monologue.
She also competed in the iPOP, a singing competition.
She won second runner-up in that contest, which drew an international field of about 400 singers.
Gabrielle said she couldn’t believe “there were so, so, many singers.”
She was thrilled to even make it to the top 20, let alone to bring home a hefty trophy, which is in the shape of a microphone.
Her mom said they didn’t have a clue if she had made it after the initial round.
Gabrielle’s dad, John, who is a personal trainer, went out for a workout and on the way back, he checked the results screen and brought back the happy news.
It was a pretty big deal, her mom said, because Gabrielle was competing in an international field of about 400 singers, between the ages of 5 and 25.
To compete, singers prepare two songs of contrasting styles. They get to choose one of the songs and iPOP chooses the other.
The convention for models, singers, actors and dancers is open only to participating schools. It has a reputation for showcasing aspiring performers who are considered to have what it takes to become a success, according to iPOP’s website.
Gabrielle chose to sing “The Way I Am,” by Ingrid Michaelson.
“It really showcases my voice,” she said matter-of-factly, without a scintilla of boasting.
The 5-foot-4 girl said the convention was a bit of an eye-opener for her.
When she and her parents arrived, she said, “it kind of seemed like (the television series) “Toddlers & Tiaras.”
“Girls were standing in 10-inch heels,” added her mom, referring to some of the models.
Gabrielle said she always has two goals when she sings: To connect with the song and to connect with the audience.
“I really, really love to sing,” Gabrielle said, noting some of her favorite singers include Celine Dion, Charice and JoJo.
“I also love to act,” she said, citing Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston as two of her favorite actors.
She hopes she’ll be able to find a way to pursue both acting and singing.
She’s encouraged by the convention.
“The agents decide who they want to call back and who they want to see again.”
She got 19 callbacks.
“We were there six hours. We got through 16,” Gabrielle’s mom, Sara, said.
It was exciting, but it wasn’t always glamorous, the mother and daughter agreed.
“We were starving. We were thirsty. Our backs hurt,” Sara added.
So now that she’s got the agents’ attention, what’s next?
It’s too soon to say, both Gabrielle and Sara said.
“You’ve got to take it day by day,” Sara said.
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