Photo by Alexander Ink
For as long as she can remember, Junior Kailee Chatters has had a fond love for the performing arts. At the age of eight she began to take lessons with Pas De Deux Hawai‘i and also began performing in local competitions and community theater. On July 6 to 15, her passion took her to Los Angeles, Calif. where she was one of three people from Hawai‘i to compete in the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) as a female vocalist representative of the United States.
“I don’t remember a time that I didn’t want to go into performing arts. I would watch movies, TV shows, music videos, concerts and I would just think about how I want to do that. At three years old I talked about singing on stage and would do little performances,” said Chatters.
WCOPA was something completely new to Chatters, but after a lot of research on the competition and encouragement from friends, she decided to audition. “My friend actually found out about this competition and she’s like, ‘Oh, I found this and do you want to audition?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, let me check this out. Is this legit? I don’t want to be paying money just to be scammed.’ So my friend just kinda got me to audition,” said Chatters.
An application and audition video must be submitted online and then the contestant must wait for a response. “You go through multiple rounds and they tell you if you moved up or not, and then eventually they’ll let you know, ‘Oh yeah, you can come to L.A. — you can come to California to compete live,’” said Chatters.
When Chatters arrived at WCOPA, the atmosphere of the competition gave her a new outlook on the entertainment industry. “I feel like it opened my eyes to figure out that there is a lot more to the whole industry instead of just being, ‘Oh, I’m the famous one,’ or ‘I’m the lead singer.’ There’s a lot more to it. And how many talented people are out there, oh my gosh, I’ve never seen so much talent in one place. (It) really helped me see different walks of life, cultures, how badly some people wanted it and how willing they’re able to work at everything — it was definitely eye opening,” said Chatters.
WCOPA prides itself on being the only “Olympic-style” competition where people from all around the world can come together to compete in multiple categories based around the entertainment industry. “It was pretty cool, the hard part was you couldn’t really talk to anyone about what’s going to happen and everything until you got there. Meeting your team, it feels really last minute just because you meet your team a day before you start competing. Some teams, like Team Philippines, they live by each other for the whole year and they all train together and everything — Team U.S. you meet them a day before,” said Chatters.
WCOPA not only puts on a competition for the contestants, they also host different events for the teams. “When you get there it’s really hard to stay healthy and keep your singing voice really good because there’s a lot of activities and parades — cultural parades — and you’re trying to meet all these people from different countries and everything. So, you’re starting to lose your voice, so you gotta save that ‘cause you’re there for a competition too, not just for pure fun,” said Chatters.
The competition not only gave her the opportunity to compete against people around the world, but also gave her the chance to meet and work with industry professionals. “All of the judges are either agents, managers, some are producers or it might be an assistant to the manager. But your judges, they’ll give you a list (and) if anybody wants to see you again, you go in and you talk to them. So I had to do a lot of interviews and you have to go out of your way to get your appointments and everything; so that makes your week really busy, but it’s worth it,” said Chatters. “And another highlight was the bootcamp day. So we got to listen to all these teachers that tell you how to make money in the music industry, or it depends on what you want to do. So there was a dance class, a modeling class and there was a couple of schools like New York Film Academy and the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. You could go audition for scholarships for them while you’re there or you can just learn about the school.”
The experience Chatters gained from WCOPA has given her the opportunity to broaden her skills not only in performing arts, but in life. “So whether I do go into music or not, I feel like (I) definitely (learned) time management skills, a lot of time management skills. I also learned just how to interact with people that I wouldn’t normally interact with. I feel like I became more confident. Just because you have to make all these friends that you’ve never actually even think about talking to if you saw them at school. (I learned) how to be aggressive, but not too aggressive when you meet industry professionals to show, ‘Hey I really want you to hire me,’ or ‘I really want you to sign me,’ so just figuring out how to show them how passionate you are,” said Chatters.
Chatters placed as a semifinalist in the female vocalist category. Team U.S. took home 29 gold medals, 30 silver, 16 bronze, 19 overall category winners, 17 semifinalists, seven finalists and three Grand Champions.