It started as an experience in the ensemble of a middle school musical when she was in seventh grade—and now it has turned into a career goal.
Brittany Powelson, a sophomore at , has parlayed this first performance into the beginning stages of an acting career and a hope for her future.
“All my friends were doing it, and they said we should give it a try,” she said. “But I had a blast, and I decided to keep going at it. I love it so much.”
Powelson was once a shy girl, finding it hard to talk to people. But all that changed when she stepped on the stage.
“As soon as I stepped on stage, I felt like it was right,” she said. “I’ve been in front of people, and was in choir concerts, but I had never been in a performance like a musical.”
“When I got up on stage, even though I was usually afraid of what people thought of me, I felt like all that disappeared,” she added. “I felt confident and it was an amazing experience for me. I like being someone I’m not, but I also like just being in front of people.”
Powelson has steadily been getting more professional parts, working her way up from roles in local plays to being extras with bit parts in movies and on television.
After her first play in seventh grade, Powelson began doing Teens in the Park, a two-week summer camp in Edison, which puts on a play at the end of the program.
That summer, Powelson said, they performed “The Lion King,” and she landed the role of Simba.
“I was OK with getting the ensemble, it was only my second performance, and it was fine if I didn’t get a big part,” she said. “At the end of the day, they were choosing leads and they said my name for the older version of Simba.”
“That just made my day,” she added. “It was the first lead I had ever gotten.”
In eighth grade, Powelson said, she landed the role of one of the evil stepsisters in the middle school’s rendition of “Cinderella.”
“It was a really fun part, and I liked it a lot because I don’t consider myself to be a stuck-up snobby person,” she said. “I really had to completely change from who I was to become this stuck-up snobby stepsister.”
And that spring, Powelson said, she landed the part of the narrator in the school’s performance of “Into the Woods, Jr.”
“It is one of the leads, and a really big part,” she said. “The director told me I had the most lines of everyone, and this is huge part. I said I’m ready for it.”
After one more part during the next summer’s Teens in the Park as Harry Potter, Powelson began to get more serious about her acting, landing an agent with Adele’s Kids and Adult Teens Management.
First, Powelson said, she got a job as an extra in “Disconnect,” a movie scheduled to be released in October. During that job, she said, she was chosen among four of the 200 kids serving as extras to get a speaking part.
“That was a lot of fun,” she said.
From there, Powelson said, she got a walk-on role as an extra on “The Good Wife” on CBS.
“I was supposed to be a student in a private school, and the two main parents were trying to enroll kids in the prep school,” she said. “Christopher Noth had to go to the principal, and I was walking around behind him, so I got to meet him, and that was a lot of fun.”
Powelson said she also auditioned for a Sony commercial with her brother, Daniel, and they had to do some improvisation, pretending to play a Wii game, and cheering each other on.
Her most recent audition, Powelson said, was for a Broadway play, where she sang a capella.
But this week, Powelson will be playing a featured dancer and singer in a performance of “Seussical” through , a musical theater camp that coaches campers in audition skills, singing, acting and dancing.
The play will be performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. Tickets can be purchased on the VoiceWorks website.
The camp works with people wanting to be professional performers, or who like musical theater as a hobby.
Powelson said she got involved in VoiceWorks in January, and soon started taking private voice classes.
“Before the class, I have private lessons, and it helped me mature my voice a lot,” she said. “I’m really enjoying it, getting to know all these people.”
“We are our own little family, and it is amazing because the director is a casting director on Broadway and he has a lot of connections with other people from Broadway,” she added. “It is a really good experience to work with directors.”
Now that she has a some acting experience under her belt, Powelson said her goal is to improve her talents, and go to college with a great acting and musical theater program.
“I know it will take a lot of auditions to get my big break, but I really hope it happens,” she said. “Everyone is so supportive of me, and I can’t thank everyone enough, especially for auditions my mom drives me to the city and picks me up from school early so I am thankful for that.”
“And my friends are sort of into it, and I have lots of friends who are into singing and acting,” she added. “They’re in musicals and they’re lots of fun, so I like being able to share that with my friends.”
Powelson said she never imagined she would be acting, but that now it has become her life and she loves it.
“It’s a lot of fun to be able to tell my friends I have to leave school early for an audition,” she said with a laugh. “For movie shoots, we miss an entire day of school, so we have to make up an entire day of school. But I love it so much.”
In terms of preparations for her auditions, Powelson said, she usually gets nervous before and after the audition itself—but not during.
“I am nervous before and then during, but I am completely comfortable up on stage again,” she said. “Then after the audition, I get a little nervous again, wondering if they liked it.”