SINGING sensation Lewis Laking’s showbiz journey has taken him from the judging rostrum of the Mail’s Hartlepool’s Got Talent contest to a top academy in the shadow of Hollywood.
As a shy and unassuming 15-year-old schoolboy he sang at the funeral of his best friend Kyle McManus who died after collapsing with a brain haemorrhage.
That led to him singing a televised duet with world-famous tenor Russell Watson who himself suffered a brain haemorrhage just months before Kyle’s death in 2007.
National and international media latched on to the success of Lewis who regularly featured in the Mail through his involvement with our annual talent shows.
Lewis, who is currently living and working as a singer in Spain, has now beat off competition from 300 other hopefuls to win a scholarship for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
For the next four years the talented 20-year-old will study a musical theatre degree at the prestigious college’s Los Angeles campus in the shadow of Hollywood.
Lewis said: “When I was first accepted via email I couldn’t believe it, I was so shocked that I had to phone the academy to confirm it, I was in that much doubt.
“I was then told I had been granted one of seven worldwide scholarships. I am still in shock now and it certainly hasn’t dawned on me yet.”
AMDA is ranked among the world’s best theatre schools and 78 per cent of graduates go straight into work on Broadway or in London’s West End.
“I believe a degree from AMDA will give me an edge on the market that only 12 people a year can boast,” added Lewis.
“My dream of performing on the West End seems a lot more achievable now.”
Lewis auditioned for AMDA in London earlier this month where there were 300 performers chasing one scholarship on offer.
The audition lasted over seven hours and Lewis had to perform a song and monologue in front of the director of AMDA and was then grilled in an interview.
Lewis, who went to Manor College of Technology in Hartlepool, moved to Spain to work earlier this year.
The former judge of the Mail’s Hartlepool’s Got Talent competition, currently lives in Villamartín, on the Costa Blanca, where he works for the Elite Entertainment agency.
He will spend this Christmas working, entertaining holidaymakers, but Lewis does not mind being away from home at this time of year.
“I suppose this is a reflection of what working in the arts requires,” he said.
On January 4, he jets to LA to meet the director and officially sign up.
But he will be back in the UK later in the month and in February as he looks to secure vital sponsorship to help pay for his tuition.
Lewis thanked his grandparents Billy and Margaret Duff, who live in Greatham, for footing the bill for his audition and flight to LA.
“Maybe AMDA will give me a chance to pay them back, so I would really like to thank them,” he said.
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