There is a new generation of creative young talent in Sacramento. One of its members has memories of dancing in a tutu as a little sprout, while another recalls drawing colorful butterflies in Dad’s notebook. A third has ambitions to star in the next summer blockbuster; a fourth dreams of touring the country, performing songs written from a teenage perspective. These four emerging performers and artists show that whether you’re a ballerina, actress, artist or singer, you can chase the dream in your heart with childlike wonder.
A Star Is Born
When Nickelodeon’s latest action-adventure series, “The Astronauts,” premiered in November, the family of 13-year-old actress and Davis resident Miya Cech gathered around the television to watch her star in yet another shining role. Cech’s character, Samantha Sawyer, is one of five middle–school teens who sneak aboard a spaceship that mistakenly launches into outer space.
Cech has looked to some impressive idols for inspiration.
“Zendaya was with my modeling agency in San Francisco. She was on ‘Shake It Up’ on Disney at the time and she was such an idol for me,” Cech says. “I was really inspired by her and many other people.”
On “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” Cech worked with Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates, who plays a butcher in the horror-anthology TV series. She also worked with comedian Ali Wong, playing her daughter Marigold in the ABC sitcom “American Housewife.”
With a blossoming acting career, Cech says she aims to use her platform to bring awareness to causes she champions such as adoption and animal rights. She’s also an ambassador for Asian American Girl Club, an apparel company started by actress Ally Maki (Officer Giggle McDimples in “Toy Story 4”) that aims to redefine what it means to be a modern Asian–American woman.
“I’m adopted from Tokyo, Japan, and I also have siblings in my family who are adopted as well,” Cech says. “I feel like that’s such a special way to bring families together, because we’re all from different places. But we all share that special little unique part of us. We get to share our cultures. We get to learn more and explore really.”
What’s next? Cech eagerly awaits the premiere of “Marvelous and the Black Hole,” a film she stars in alongside Rhea Perlman (“Cheers,” “Matilda”). The movie was slated to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2020, but due to coronavirus it’s now postponed until spring 2021. For now, Cech says she’s living in the moment and looking to her future.
“That feeling at the end, knowing that you put all that hard work into getting a show, and seeing it on TV, or on a big screen, and knowing that you put your entire self and all of your heart and soul into it—it’s very rewarding,” Cech says. “My advice is never give up, because you’re going to be told no a lot. So just keep pushing. Those no’s should be encouragement. It should make you want to try harder and prove those people who tell you no wrong.”
“All You Need Is Love”
Karla Lopez Meza
Karla Lopez Meza was inspired by comedian Jim Carrey’s commencement speech to graduates of Maharishi International University in Iowa. A high school junior at The Met Sacramento, she watched Carrey’s encouraging words over YouTube and felt nudged to sign up for an opportunity that would further her singing ambitions.
“He was basically talking about how you should reach for your dreams and that there’s a bunch of opportunities out there; you just gotta search for them,” she says. “I was scrolling one day on this app that my school has, called Schoology, and I saw that there was an announcement for this program. I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this. I have no other reason not to do it.’”
It was kismet—Lopez Meza is one of 10 high school students in Sacramento chosen to be a part of CATALYST, a nine-month professional apprenticeship program organized by CLARA Studios for the Performing Arts. She’s paired with mentor Casey Lipka, a regular collaborator with Capital Dance Project and the lead singer of local folk trio Dear Darling.
“I wish I had someone to go to about questions when I was younger,” Lipka says. “I think having a resource, someone to trust and ask questions, is invaluable. I want to create a safe, welcoming, creative and knowledge-rich space to support Karla in her blooming artistry.”
As an aspiring singer with dreams of touring the country and performing her original music, Lopez Meza says she takes inspiration from soulful artists such as the late Amy Winehouse and pop punk bands like Fall Out Boy, and she also has a soft spot for The Beatles.
“Expressing myself through songs gets me over the fear of like, ‘Wow, people are looking at me, people are judging me.’ It’s OK with me as long as I’m doing something I love. Like The Beatles once said, ‘All you need is love,’ and that love, to me, is music.”
Sacramento Ballet trainee
Macy Jordan recalls being a 3-year-old hopping over silky scarves in a pink leotard, trying to resemble the graceful ballerinas she admired. Now 20 years old and a trainee with the Sacramento Ballet, she hopes to become a professional dancer.
“I’ve never been a shy person, but ballet really helps show some of those emotions that are hard to put into words,” Jordan says. “It’s such a beautiful art form. It’s so unique to be able to express yourself without even having to speak. It breaks language barriers. We’re able to express ourselves through movement, regardless of where you are in the world and who you’re with, because we all understand movement.”
That fluid movement came to a painful halt two years ago when Jordan fell out of a jump, shattering her knee. Eager to dance again, the dedicated ballerina and Pilates instructor spent a year and a half recovering and regaining her strength. Inspired by her fellow dancers and the encouragement of Sac Ballet executive director Anthony Krutzkamp, Jordan had an amazing comeback dancing in a variety of outdoor performances this past October.
The ballet is on break during January, but Jordan sees the time off as an opportunity to train and strengthen her skills for upcoming auditions. For young girls and boys with an interest in ballet, Jordan suggests soaking up new techniques by watching everything from YouTube to peers.
“Try to absorb all the information you can from your teachers or other artists because it’s really passed down from generation to generation,” she says. “Us older dancers are always happy to help and inspire the next generation. It’s so wonderful to see young dancers; they keep us going.”
Dream a Little Dream
Emerging digital artist
Victoria Anguiano, a 17-year-old emerging mixed-media artist, started sketching as a little girl, drawing butterflies in her dad’s notebook.
A senior at Luther Burbank High School, Anguiano is part of CLARA’s professional apprenticeship program and was paired with local illustrator Tabitha Jensen. The two share a passion for imaginative artscapes inspired by science fiction and fantasy.
“I felt an instant connection with her and the passion she had for the arts,” Jensen says. “It felt more like taking on a kid sister instead of a mentee because she is so very open and full of energy.”
Jensen introduced Anguiano to oil paints and set her up with an art kit chock-full of alcohol markers that are vivid in color and dry quickly. The two draw over Zoom and share new ideas for pieces they’d like to create.
Lately, it’s the vintage color aesthetic of film director Victoria Vincent and the anime series “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” by Hirohiko Araki that fill Anguiano with encouragement. She dreams of attending art school in New York one day, learning 2D or 3D animation, and she wants to start selling prints of her work online.
“I’ve been working a lot with these new markers. Each new illustration is just something really exciting for me,” she says. “The fact that I can just draw anything that I want, like funny stuff or really aesthetically pleasing stuff. It feels good to pretty much bring anything to life.”