Teenage Talent at the 2024 Teeny Awards

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Angelina Yu


TeenTix is an organization known for its celebration of teen leadership and local art, and on January 28, 2024, they hosted the Teeny Awards, an event meant to commemorate twenty outstanding teens from the area—a group now known as the “20 Under 20.” Yet while the function centered around the awards, it also featured several live performances by other talented teenagers from the Greater Seattle Area, including live poetry, singing, dancing, and more.

I was lucky enough to attend the Teeny Awards at On the Boards, a theater in Downtown Seattle, with my friend and TeenTix Arts Podcast member Ashwari Shende. The event itself was full of glittering outfits and bright lights, aligning with the theme, Mirrorball, and the audience seats were packed full of Washingtonians from various backgrounds. And though I barely recognized any other attendees, I felt an unfamiliar—yet not unwelcome—feeling of… belonging. It was easy to tell that all of us, regardless of age, gender, race, and ability, were connected by a shared enthusiasm for the arts and appreciation of the amazingly accomplished youth around us.

TeenTix’s 20 Under 20 were announced in groups of five, with one performance between each set. Following the first group and an introduction from emcee and TeenTix Deputy Director Austin Sargent, the first performer, Keegan York, came on stage.

Poet Keegan York at the 2024 Teeny Awards. Photo by Brenda Palma

An identical twin from Lake Stevens and a finalist in the Washington State Poetry Out Loud competition, York conveyed his perspective on consciousness through a mind-bogglingly brilliant poem he called “A Natural Celebration.”

As an enjoyer of poetry myself, this had been something I’d eagerly anticipated, and I’m glad to say that York didn’t disappoint. The moment he opened his mouth, I was in awe: he was so expressive, artfully twisting words together in an idiosyncratic yet beautiful manner. I’ll admit that I struggled to understand some of his language, but if anything, this merely added to the charisma of his work. Allusions to Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne, ancient philosophers, and physics terminology… As Sargent said after York’s performance, “I feel like I am ten points smarter” now than I was before witnessing York’s reading.

Next up was Amelia Taylor and Annika Wanagel-Rojas, a pair of singers from the Village Theatre Institute. Previously, both have been featured in various shows, and witnessing them perform myself was absolutely incredible. Simply hearing the opening notes made me emotional, and as the song went on, I couldn’t help but sway to the rhythm, captivated by their siren-like song. Wanagel-Rojas’s lively tones perfectly complemented Taylor’s breathier voice, and in singing together, they seemed to bring out the best in each other. And just when I thought I couldn’t be more impressed, I was proven wrong: to end their number, the pair ended with a magnificent crescendo, a fitting conclusion to a truly spectacular performance.

Amelia Taylor and Annika Wanagel-Rojas at the 2024 Teeny Awards. Photo by Brenda Palma.

Diverging from the theme of live performances, the third performance involved the screening of Light” A short film about hope, Light was produced by Billie Atkins, Alixx, and Richard Barrett-Wood, three teen filmmakers from Three Dollar Bill’s Reel Queer Youth Camp.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected much from a film created in just one week, but Light was nothing short of inspirational. As soon as the film began, I could tell that it was going to be amazing. The initial shots blew me away, and in tandem with the soft instrumentals, they created a mysterious, delicate sort of atmosphere, with a coming-of-age sort of vibe. As it went on, I almost felt tears welling in my eyes—somehow, Atkins, Alixx, and Barrett-Wood had perfectly conveyed the hopelessness one feels as a teenager, something I related immensely to. I was lucky enough to speak to the filmmakers after the awards, and as they explained to me, Light was a message to all the dejected people out there, a nudge to stand up and keep going. As they put it, “you can always find something that makes you happy.”

Emma Ly and Christian West in "Shameika" at the 2024 Teeny Awards. Photo by Brenda Palma

The final performance was a collaboration between Emma Ly, a 15 year old dancer and choreographer at Spotlight Dance Center, and Christian West, a 19 year old performer currently studying Dance at Western Washington University. Last year, through Velocity Dance Center’s Young Choreographers Club, they co-choreographed “Shameika,” which they performed again at the Teeny Awards. Set to the song of the same name by Fiona Apple, their dance was brisk and snappy, feeling almost like a conversation between the two. There was some sort of dichotomy between them, with one fluid figure sliding around and one moving almost jerkily, yet their contrasting styles blended into something smooth and coordinated.

The 2024 Teeny Awards were meant to uplift talented teens from Seattle, and they certainly succeeded—not just through the 20 Under 20 Awards, but also through their showcasing of brilliant young artists and producers.

Lead photo credit: Emma Ly and Christian West in "Shameika" at the 2024 Teeny Awards. Photo by Brenda Palma

This article is the first in a series sponsored by the education research organization foundry10 as an extension of their support for The 2024 Teeny Awards.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 5 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

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.

TeenTix Logo
Sign Up


Create an account | Reset your password