Rising Star Project Creates Community and Connection

An interview with Rising Star Project participants Sebastian Borges and Spencer Barber

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jwan Magsoosi

PR7 A2985 X5 1

We have all heard the theater kid stereotypes. Loud, dramatic, proud. Students in the Rising Star Project at The 5th Avenue Theatre are no exception to this, but in the best ways possible! I had the pleasure of chatting with Rising Star Project participants Spencer Barber and Sebastian Borges, who joined this community of talented youth and professionals to nurture their love for the arts. The RSP program mentors students in all aspects of theater production, and puts on a show at the end.

Barber and Borges both play the role of Dr.Grayburn in the farcical comedy, Something’s Afoot. In our interview, they both showed me how empowering the arts could be. We talked about the magic of theater, what they’ve learned from the Rising Star Project, and how more arts programs are becoming accessible to youth—a trend that will hopefully continue in the future.

Jwan Magsoosi: What are your names, pronouns, and what school do you go to?

Sebastian Borges: My name is Sebastian Borges, I am 19 years old. I use he/him pronouns and I go to UW Seattle.

Spencer Barber: My name is Spencer Barber. I use he/him pronouns and go to East Lake High School. I’m a senior.

Magsoosi: Wow, so one of you is in college and the other in high school. I’ve heard you’ve got a wide range of ages in your cast. What's it like working with the other youth in the program?

Barber: Everyone in our cast has gotten along super well and we're all super good friends even though some people are years apart.

Borges: I don't think there's many other places where you could form a community like this.

Sebastian Borges in 9 to 5. Photo by @Chloepeterson.photography

Magsoosi: That's a very unique opportunity and really amazing to hear. My next question is what's special about theater to you? What's your inspiration?

Borges: There's something magical about theater. My first show was in high school junior year. Performing on stage is fun, but what really keeps me going is the process. It's the community you build when you're working with all these people. We're all striving to give as much as we possibly can so there's this sense of community that you build very quickly that's unlike anything else I've ever experienced before.

Barber: I never thought in a million years that I would be doing theater and now I'm going to go to college to pursue it! I did sports and I was this angry little child running around. Theater has made me such a more kind and understanding person.

Magsoosi: Tell us more about the Rising Star Project!? Why did you join? What are the logistics?

Barber: Absolutely. Rising Star is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You get to do theater with professionals at a production value that we're striving to get in our careers. It gives us an opportunity to experience what we want our future to be.

Borges: One thing that attracted me to this program was not only the experience of performing on such a big stage, but also gaining stepping stones. Our program provides youth coming into the working world the opportunity to start to make connections and get to know people who work in all aspects of this industry.

Magsoosi: That's really nice to hear, especially with theater being a competitive industry! Can you tell me more about the kind of roles available? I know there's actors but who else is involved in the production?

Barber: There is pretty much everything in the program. We're just in the cast but there's people getting mentored for music direction, there's people for stage management, for costumes. Backstage tech, there’s people for the orchestra pit, there's makeup. Every aspect of theater, there's a student being mentored in it.

Borges: There are also marketing mentees who are working with the team to help market the show. There are accessibility mentees who are working to make sure the space is accessible.

Spencer Barber in Something Rotten at Eastlake High School. Photo courtesy of Spencer Barber.

Magsoosi: People usually think of just the actors who are on stage but not the ones working behind the scenes, so it's really nice to hear that Rising Star provides opportunities for so many different parts of the production. Moving on, how do you see art as a way for teens to express themselves?

Barber: For teens, there's a very set example of what you're supposed to be, but theater allows you to break out of that and be whatever. I think it’s just such a cool thing to have as a teenager.

Borges: I definitely agree. I think a lot of the teenage experience is defined by desperately trying to be as grown up as you can. A lot of forms of artistic expression, theater especially, allow you to let go of trying to be an adult.

Magsoosi: So this is our last question! What is something you've learned from the Rising Star program that you'd like to share with teens wanting to find an opportunity in the arts?

Borges: [Jokingly] Oh, I've got one, easy! The best way to make something happen for yourself is to try and try over and over and over again and throw yourself against the wall as hard as you can until finally something breaks.

Barber: But not too hard!

Borges: Don't throw yourself too hard! Keep time for yourself. Make sure you're ok.

Barber: Yeah!

Borges: But [in all honesty] you're never going to get anything if you stand around waiting, too scared to try. Walking into auditions was one of the scariest things that I've ever done. For this it was terrifying. Walking into The 5thAvenue Theatre, this huge regional theater, is one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life, but I never would have been here if I didn't. The biggest thing I could tell anyone wanting a career in the Arts is to go for it. The worst thing they could tell you is no.

Barber: That's honestly what I was going to say, too. I auditioned for this program last year and I didn't get in. So I was like, ‘Into The Woods! I love Into The Woods, I'm gonna audition!’ I got a call back and then I just didn't get in. That doesn't mean I'm bad at theater! That just means there were people who were better for the roles than I was, and I completely understood that. That's the biggest thing that I've learned. If you just keep trying, eventually you'll get it.

Check out the Rising Star performances this week! You can see Barber and Borges on stage April 11-13. More info available here. Hope to see you there!

Lead photo credit: Participants in the Rising Star Project. Photo by Youth in Focus.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This article was written by a TeenTix Newsroom writer on special assignment through the TeenTix Press Corps.

TeenTix Logo
Sign Up


Create an account | Reset your password