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Art school raised student Desirae Powell

Desirae Powell, an actress and musical theater student at Northwest School of the Arts (NWSA), is a headliner beyond the stage, with awe-inspiring singing, dancing and acting abilities that set her apart from the crowd. 

“She is one of the best students I have had the privilege to work with in my six years as a classroom teacher,” said Kelly Petrere, Desirae’s musical theater teacher. 

Desirae has been in an art school environment since kindergarten and has studied at NWSA for seven years. As a child, she was fascinated with television, singing and dancing, which inspired her to develop her talents. Her favorite acting roles have been Tiger Lily in Peter Pan and an ensemble member in Shrek the Musical. 

Despite her success on stage, Desirae always considered herself a singer first, saying she even felt “forced to act.” It took time for her to take acting seriously and understand the importance of “being an actor before doing anything else.” 

Desirae found that success is not always overnight and does not follow a straight path. At first, she did not get the roles she desired, but she was resilient. “The best solution sometimes is to go where you’re wanted and accepted rather than trying to fit into a space you don’t belong in or may not need to be in in the first place,” she said. 

Desirae took her struggles and turned them into lessons. “The first time I saw myself on video, I freaked out and was really insecure,” she said. “Then I realized it was an amazing opportunity to watch myself, realize what I needed to work on and what I was doing well, and use that to my advantage, rather than folding and being insecure about it -- using it as an opportunity to learn.” 

“The qualities that distinguish great performers from the merely adequate ones are intelligence, creativity, patience, empathy, the ability to be a problem-solver and a distinctive outlook on the world,” Petrere said. Desirae checks every box. Her prowess and versatility have been rewarded with a four-year scholarship to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she plans to sharpen her skills and showcase her talents to the world.

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