A Leave No Girl Behind Initiative: Youth inspiring youth
MAKE YOUR BIGGEST DREAMS COME TRUE
A contribution to Leave No Girl Behind by Julienne Irwin
Growing up as an only child, singing was my best friend. As soon as I came home from school I would go outside onto my front porch and sing at the top of my lungs to an audience of grass blades. Without even realizing it, day after day I honed my craft until inevitably I wanted singing to be not only my best friend, but my career. I watched award shows with my favorite female singers wishing I could be like them, but I never knew how to make my dream become a reality.
When I was thirteen years old, season one of America’s Got Talent aired on television. It was an instant success and I watched it weekly cheering for my favorite performers. While researching America’s Got Talent on the internet, I found out that, unlike American Idol, there was no age limit to audition for the show. For weeks afterward I begged my parents to let me audition for America’s Got Talent but they brushed my efforts aside. My parents are incredibly supportive of all of my endeavors, but I had never performed publicly before and they were not sure if going from singing to grass blades to singing for millions of people was wise. That is, if, by some kind of fluke, I made it on the show.
Finally, my parents cracked. My dad and I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to audition with thousands of other hopefuls. After a grueling eight hour day, I finally auditioned and was told that if I was still being considered for the television show, producers would call in two months. Although it seems like two months is a long wait to hear an answer you have dreamed of for so long, I pushed it out of my mind. To me, I was just a normal kid that loved to sing. If they liked me, great. If not, it would not stop me from singing. Sure enough, after two months, the producers called and said that I was still being considered, but that they would call again in two months if I was definitely going to appear on the show. Again, I tried not to let it phase me. No matter what happened, my dream would always be within me and if America’s Got Talent was not the way to make my dreams come true, I would find another path. Finally, the producers of the show called one more time. I had been chosen and I was to be flown out to Los Angeles to audition in front of the celebrity judges!
Throughout the production of America’s Got Talent the time flew by. It all hardly felt real, from having my hair and makeup done to signing my first autographs for fans. Fans! How could I really have fans?! I performed some of my favorite country songs and advanced weekly to the final episode and a fourth place finish. Although, I did not win, I was very proud of myself for making it as far as I did, especially having never performed in front of people before.
The months immediately following America’s Got Talent brought many performance opportunities, such as singing the National Anthem for numerous sporting events and touring with American country music legend, Kenny Rogers. Each experience is held dear to my heart, but the ones that stay with you the longest are the charitable causes I have been involved in. One of my favorites was spending a day at a high school in upstate New York talking, performing, and getting to know the students. Many of them are still my friends to this day. I have lent my voice to events for many worthy causes locally, ranging from supporting our local public library to a shelter for abused women.
When I reflect back on the events of the past four years, I realize one common thread. Courage. Everyone has courage and an inner strength, I think it just takes someone to coax it out of you when you are young and maybe a little unsure of yourself. In my case, my parents’ unblinking support gave me the confidence to dare to be great. I used this inner strength for everything I try to do, whether it’s getting on stage in front of millions of people weekly or even trying out for the cheerleading squad at my high school, which, having never cheered before, was just as scary in it’s own way. With belief in yourself, I feel anyone can achieve their dreams. One decision, auditioning for America’s Got Talent, changed my life forever. Be bold, be brave. Sometimes it only takes one opportunity to make big things happen in your life, but unless you actually try you will never give yourself a chance.
Julienne Irwin is a singer and songwriter from Bel Air, Maryland. She is a shining example to girls, proving that if one has the courage to pursue one’s dream and work hard to achieve it, the future is limitless.