SINGING sensation Lewis Laking could be forgiven for feeling jet-lagged.
He has just returned to his home town of Hartlepool after five exciting days in Los Angeles where he has been awarded a prized place at one of the world’s best performing arts academies.
But Lewis shows no sign of tiredness – just an unwavering drive to find backers to help him achieve his American dream.
In December, Lewis beat off competition from 300 other hopefuls to win the only international scholarship place to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
But the talented 20-year-old is now tasked with finding the $32,000 – around £20,000 – a year, to pay for his place.
He has returned to Hartlepool as he reaches out to the business community and supporters to help him along his journey to fame and fortune.
Lewis, whose goal is to star on the West End stage, spent five days in America where he toured the prestigious college’s Los Angeles campus in the shadow of the Hollywood hills.
He said: “Los Angeles is an amazing place. I toured the academy and met all the staff and directors.
“I went with my granddad Bill who is my biggest sponsor. He is not an easy guy to please, but he was really impressed.
“Now I’ve been and seen it, it has renewed my drive to get there.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m not going to stop now until I get there.”
Lewis, who went to Manor College of Technology, hopes to study a bachelor of fine arts in musical theatre in a four-year course.
AMDA will pay $5,500 towards the course through Lewis’ scholarship and his family have stumped up £8,000, leaving him with around £10,000 to find by the summer.
The academy is ranked as one of the best in the world and 78 per cent of graduates get work within six months of graduating.
As well as potential local sponsors, Lewis will also contact opera star Russell Watson, who he sung on TV and went on tour with, for support.
He said: “I’m literally going to go through the Yellow Pages and write to every single one. They can only say no.
“I’ve done quite a lot for the town and local charities and businesses, now I’m asking if they can help me.
“Any help would be really appreciated and in the future I hope to repay them.”
Lewis, who has spent the last year living and working as a singer in Spain, also plans to stage a number of concerts around Hartlepool to help towards his living expenses in America.
Anyone who can help is asked to contact Lewis through his granddad Bill Duff on 07988793618 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org