My CYT Story: The Power of Mercy

The following story was submitted by Iman K. from CYT Sacramento for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


My name is Iman K., and I joined CYT Sacramento during classes for Thoroughly Modern Millie, winter of 2015. I actually didn’t enjoy that experience at all because I had a hard time fitting in, especially at the stage of life I was going through. I quit midway through the session and told my mom that I was never going back because I obviously didn’t belong anywhere. A few months passed, and when I found out that the spring show was Tarzan (my favorite Disney movie), I couldn’t bring myself to pass it up. So, I trained for a few months before going back and auditioning, during which I felt more than a little awkward. To my amazement, I was called back, and ended up being cast as the Leopard, something that I was incredibly excited about. Between the casting and the read through, though, there was a really rough day.

A little bit of background, up until that point I’d struggled with a lot of things in my life that had just seemed to be completely crumbling, the death of a family member, the loss of a friend, a shaky relationship with my father, and some serious self hate. I had been cutting and carving and bruising myself for over a year and was majorly struggling with an eating disorder, my diet consisting of about 3 almonds a day. I was seeing more doctors than I would’ve liked to be, and had been on medication for an embarrassing length of time. I hated myself and my body, and everything I thought was just self deprecating. I had grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents but was at a place where I was more angry and doubtful about God than anything. So many things in my life just seemed to be unravelling, and I was seriously considering ending my life to permanently remove the pain I’d been suffering for years..

So back to this rough day, I was at school on a Thursday, and my mind just started wandering. I remember sitting in the bathroom with a stolen blade and performing the usual “ritual”. When I walked out of the bathroom, something hit me: CYT’s code of conduct about self respect and treating your body as a temple. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I would be kicked out of the show and the one place where I could do what I loved would be closed off to me, so I texted my mom and asked her to call Wendy Hoover, the director for that show. She texted back to say that Mrs. Hoover wasn’t picking up, and I had this period of dread as I waited and waited for an answer. I got another text from my mom telling me to pray through it, and my immediate reaction was an eye roll. But for some reason, this time, I listened to her. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and whisper yelled at God in the middle of my English classroom, asking him to take away this feeling.

I can’t really explain what happened next, and I guess there’s no way to unless you’ve experienced it yourself, but I felt literal weight being lifted off me. My entire body felt lighter, and that anxiety came to an abrupt stop. I was able to get through the rest of the day, and when the final bell rang and I left for my car, I silently accepted the fact that I had blown my chance and would do better next time.

I climbed into the car and immediately asked if Mrs. Hoover had replied, which she had. My mom smiled as she told me that Mrs. Hoover was not only going to let me continue the show, but hoped that CYT would be a place where I could fit in and find a second family. I cried the whole way home with relief, but mostly because no one in all my years had showed me mercy in that way. I seriously rethought my generalizations about people and that everyone would give me grief because I was “such a bad Christian”.

Fast forward a couple weeks, I was actively participating in rehearsals and had made more great friends in that time than I probably had in a full couple years. I was able to slowly peel myself from my corner of seclusion and enter into a world that I didn’t know existed. I met people who loved me for the right reasons, and through that was able to better understand the Lord’s everlasting love for me. I’m 16 now, and since then I haven’t hurt myself once or gone a day without eating. I’ve also been slowly weaning off of my medication and have overall been a more joyful person. My spiritual gift actually completely shifted to mercy, and I sought out to pull other people from the dark hole that I had been buried in for over half my life by doing the little things that I would’ve needed in that time. My life has been so worth living, and even though I still have my mountains and valleys, I have a companion by my side the whole way. The honor and the glory go to Jesus Christ, the one who saved me from the clutches of death.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9


 

 

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Another Family

The following story was submitted by Ally H. from CYT Baton Rouge for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


Summer of 2015, my best friend and I went to a musical theatre intensive in Missoula, Montana. We created a close family that I loved and hated to leave. And I thought I could never have another family like it. CYT proved me wrong. Auditions for CYT’s Mary Poppins started a week and a half after I got back home. And I went without hesitation, along with my best friend. I ended up falling in love with the show, my role, and everyone around me. I found I would rather be here than anywhere else. Even though it is sad knowing that I will cease to perform with my CYT family after I graduate this spring, the relationships I have built that have made me the actress and the person I am today will always be a part of me.


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Who I’m Meant to Be

The following story was submitted by Amanda T. from CYT Dallas for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


“Wow!”… That may be the proper word to start off my story for you.

Hello, I’m Amanda! I’m a homeschooled Sophomore, and a student at the new CYT Dallas-Fort Worth. First, let me just say, things are going very well over here!

I figured my CYTeammates (Is that a thing? …No?) from other parts of the country deserved an update and a testimony coming from a student at one of CYT’s newest locations. So, here it is:

Not even a year ago, I was still rather shy, awkward, and unconfident. I was into acting, but after being rejected several times and going through the whole favoritism thing, I felt a lack of self worth. I decided, though theatre was what I truly wanted to do deep down, that it ‘just wasn’t for me’.

I decided that I would give it up for a while… If the right time ever came, I ‘might’ give it another chance… So, I took some writing courses, and gave photography a shot. (Get it? A ‘shot’?! ‘Cause-… Never mind.) Through that, God has shown me beauty and peace, and helped me discover some hidden talents of mine… (And, I’m not throwing away my shot to use those talents to write this blog, all puns included.)

So, I said, “Great! I guess I’ve found my hobbies… I guess acting isn’t for me, but that’s okay… I’ll learn to leave it to “the pros” like Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale, and enjoy it from the audience’s point of view.” … but what I didn’t know was that God wasn’t done with me yet.

Last June, my mom signed my sister and me up for CYT DFW’s first-ever summer camp (well, their first-ever ANYTHING, for that matter)… I was scared at first. Scared of being rejected again, feeling out of place and unwanted, or altogether failing. But I just felt God calling me to go. So I went.

I went in there at the beginning of the week, nervous; staring at the floor, wondering how I was gonna pull it off… If you saw me, you’d think that was a completely different person. Because I came out of there at the end of the week, after the showcase, more wid and open than I’ve probably ever been before.

CYT Dallas’ first show EVER! “Into the Woods Jr.”

I actually pity my parents for having to deal with me that night, because I was crazy. I was on a sugar high, I was singing showtunes from Into the Woods (which ended up being our first-ever show, so how cool is that?) and Newsies (my favorite musical and current obsession.) at the top of my lungs. And ever since then, that old unconfident version of myself has been buried deep down… I owe that to the incredible people at CYT.

As cliché as it may sound: Through CYT, I discovered who I was meant to be; my true self. I came out of my shell, and I found new friends who accept me for the dork I am.

So, I’ve still got room to improve my skills, I still get jitters every now and then, and I’m still VERY awkward…. But it doesn’t matter, because at CYT, we’re all one big awkward family, and we’re always there to help each other grow, and cheer each other on.

I may not get every role I want. I may mess up sometimes. I may not have an onstage presence as powerful as Lea Salonga’s or Sutton Foster’s… But who cares? In the end, I am not flawed in the eyes of God (Oh, hey! That rhymed!). As long as I use the gifts he has given to me in order to glorify Him, it’s all that matters. He will take care of the rest… In the end, if I look like a fool up there, at least I’m looking like a fool who loves Jesus, am I right?

I encourage you -nay, I challenge you- to use the skills God has blessed you with -whatever your passions are; singing, acting, dancing, writing, computer science, photography, art, music, ventriloquy, miming, skydive coaching, etc.- to their fullest, and for His glory. And then, just watch what happens! You’ll be surprised what God -the great director in the theatre of life- will do with none other than YOU, His star, if you only let Him.

Thanks for your support, CYT brothers and sisters (whether you’re student, staff, or audience member, and whether or not you like it, you ARE a part of our big, awkward family…) ! CYT Dallas is going strong, and getting ready for our second musical, Legally Blonde Jr.!!!! All my love,

-Amanda, your crazy sister over at CYT Dallas-Fort Worth


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Shoot for the moon

The following story was submitted by Emily M. from CYT Fredericksburg for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


The story starts out like this, I’m sitting in row R, left section, we were seeing Fiddler on the Roof. I was with my mom, aunt, and grandmother. When the show started I was completely mesmerized. At intermission we looked around because I’d never seen a CYT show before but I’d taken a fall class earlier that year. I ran into kids from my class and my old teacher. Then at the end of intermission we returned to our seats and got ready for awesomeness that was act two. The second act was even better than the first and I whispered to my grandmother, “This is what I want to do,” and she told me to go for it. Flash forward a few years later, I auditioned for my first show, White Christmas. I didn’t do so hot on my audition but I made the show. The first show experience was like a baby taking it first steps, clueless yet amazed. Then tech week hit, I had heard the horror stories and was kinda nervous but it wasn’t horrible at all. After my first show I was filled with excitement and I was like “I’ve done a show, and it’s amazing”. I’m now in my second production and I couldn’t be happier. Even if you don’t get a lead role, the minor parts are just as cool. Finally, for all of you reading this and thinking about auditioning, just go for it and shoot for the moon for you’ll always land among the stars!


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: A Different Atmosphere

The following story was submitted by Danielle C. from CYT Sacramento for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


My name is Danielle C. I’m seventeen and proud to say I am a member of CYT Sacramento.

I didn’t join CYT until I was fifteen. I was with a children/teen’s choir for the most of my childhood, that had drama and choreography involved. While I learned many great lessons from it, I never had strong friendships in the group. Because of change in location, I stopped participating in the choir and went to CYT because it was more local.

The atmosphere was instantly different. I went to a workshop for the upcoming show, and immediately made friends. Everyone was so accepting of my being new and not as skilled. It was more than the simple politeness I was used to, these people had an interest in spending time with me and getting to know who I was. I have gotten closer friends in the span of a year at CYT than some friends I’ve known throughout middle school and high school.

I was cast in the show and got acquainted with my cast mates. At first I was nervous about the people who got leads being arrogant and stereotypical popular people. But after a while I learned those kinds of people aren’t at CYT. People got parts not on their talent alone, but also their character.

The teachers and classes have also been amazing growing experiences for me. I’ve felt myself improve in all areas immensely because of the patience and wisdom of many different teachers. They care about us students so much and are willing to take extra time to help if you ask for it.

I’m currently in my last show with CYT, and the thought of not regularly seeing the friends I’ve made breaks my heart.

CYT has changed my life forever. Everyone who participates will be blessed by the students, teachers, show directors, volunteers, and everyone in between. The love there encourages you to love everyone beyond the building walls.


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

Theater is hard

Theater is hard. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of nerves, excitement, disappointment, joy, stress, and pride. There are highs and lows at each step of the way – from auditions to callbacks, the cast list coming out to the first rehearsal, and tech week through the final curtain call. Sometimes, you audition for a show and then have the privilege of being a part of the cast! But what happens when you nail your audition AND callback, and then are disappointed with your part, or don’t even see your name on the cast list?

Two moms from CYT Fredericksburg share what they’ve learned from watching their children go through the casting process and face disappointment. Stefanie, mother of five, wrote in the fall about two of her kids’ auditions with CYT Fredericksburg’s fall shows, “White Christmas” and “Junie B. Jones”, and Heather writes about her daughter’s audition for CYT Fredericksburg’s winter show, “Willy Wonka Jr.”. CYT really is building character one stage at a time, not only in our students, but in our parents as well!

Read through Stefanie’s and Heather’s beautifully worded stories in the links below!

The Overholtzer’s Lives: The Right Fit

Southern Mama Speaks: The Callback List

GIVE CYT

My CYT Story and GIVE CYT – Dr. Heather LaForge, Director of Operations for CYT Inc.

Since I began working for CYT Inc. in 2012, I have had the profound privilege of helping SEVEN affiliates get started. That means CYT is in seven more cities than it was 4 years ago, with thousands more students being trained each year in our incredible programs.

Helping get new CYTs off the ground and into new communities is one of my favorite roles. I spend hours working with incredible individuals across the country, training, coaching, and supporting all in the name of giving more kids access to this organization. The cost to CYT Inc. to get a new CYT off the ground is roughly $25,000. It is costly, but I know first hand that it is so worth it. Before I stepped into my role of Director of Operations at CYT Inc., I was part of a CYT start up in Santa Cruz, CA.

Kick Off Celebration for CYT Santa Cruz, right after I was hired! That's me in the middle, some of the dedicated Santa Cruz leadership, and my youngest daughter (my now 6 year old) in the baby bjorn.

Kick Off Celebration for CYT Santa Cruz, right after I was hired! That’s me in the middle, some of the dedicated Santa Cruz leadership, and my youngest daughter (my now 6 year old) in the baby bjorn.

In 2010, a handful of dedicated individuals prayed about bringing CYT to Santa Cruz, CA. These individuals worked together and rallied the Santa Cruz community, and I jumped on board as Artistic Director shortly before we held our first session of classes in January 2011. I relied heavily on CYT Inc. for support as our team sought to make the CYT Santa Cruz experience as strong as it could be. I spent hours either on the phone or skyping with the CYT Inc. team, reaching out with questions and prayer requests as we stumbled through our first year producing 3 full shows and running a camp of more than 100 students. I cannot imagine starting up a theatre company without their support.

When my husband was transferred to San Diego in 2012, I prayed that God would use my work with CYT Santa Cruz to further glorify him and his community. Two months after moving to San Diego, I began working for CYT Inc. and am now on the other side of the calls from affiliates, offering support, wisdom, and encouragement to those leaders on the ground.

NLC last year with all the CYT Leaders!

NLC last year with all the CYT Leaders!

It’s incredible to witness what God is doing through our current affiliate programs. But as we work to support our current affiliates, we continually receive questions about how to bring CYT to new communities. Week after week families seek support to get CYT off the ground in their local cities. We have a goal of being in every state in the next ten years. This is an expensive goal, but we believe that we can do it. In order to respond to these requests, and to impact more communities, we need your help.

This #GivingTuesday we want to GIVE CYT to a brand new community. It costs roughly $25,000 to help establish a CYT in a new city, and we’ve been blessed by a private group of donors who are willing to MATCH EVERY DOLLAR donated through this campaign from now until December 31st, 2016. If we reach our goal of $12,500 (which will be matched to $25,000), you will be a part of helping bring CYT to a brand new community, and more lives will be impacted because of your generosity.

Please contribute and help us GIVE CYT. Your generosity will impact the lives of families and individuals for years to come. Donate HERE today!