“Opening Act has helped to him understand that anything is possible…He has become more determined to create a rhythm to play the beat of his own drum in life..”

Renee LaBrew | Dante’s Mother

See what Christine’s mom and teaching artist have to say about her time at Opening Act.

Dante Garner was shy before he joined Opening Act. Slowly, Opening Act helped Dante become more outgoing and comfortable in social situations. “Since I first started Opening Act I can say without a doubt that it helped me in breaking out of my shell of acting shy. I’ve been able to interact with people in a totally new way, as well as hold some short conversations with almost anybody.”

During his time with Opening Act, Dante developed more confidence in himself and his abilities. “Having confidence in myself is one of the skills that I have during my time in Opening Act, when we are performing in front of an audience we always try to stay in character even if we don’t know our lines we have to stay confident in ourselves in order to put on a good performance.”

Dante wants to meet new people and experience new things while in college, developing a support system for himself in order to be successful and achieve his goals. Upon graduating he shared, “I still intend on going to a college to help develop my acting career, but I also want to try to expose myself to different environments as well and try to meet new people along the way that’s willing to support me and or share the goal that I have and push each other so that we may be successful in the future.”

Renee LaBrew

Dante’s mother

In addition to confidence in his onstage abilities, Renee LaBrew, Dante’s mother, noticed that Opening Act also helped Dante develop confidence off stage, in the classroom. “I find that Opening Act has helped Dante have more confidence in his school work. He is finding easier to collect his thoughts when he has essays.”

She also says that Opening Act has empowered Dante to believe in himself, his individuality, and the importance of his own voice. “He has certainly become a lot more assertive when talking to his peers. He definitely expresses himself without worrying that his voice doesn’t make a difference. I do know that Opening Act has helped to him understand that anything is possible…He has become more determined to create a rhythm to play the beat of his own drum in life.”

Maria Schirmer

Teaching Artist, Canarsie Campus

Maria Schirmer, a teaching artist who taught Dante for several years, notes that Opening Act helped Dante showcase his talents as a true leader. “Dante joined Opening Act with a natural maturity but it was during his years in our program that this maturity was truly honed. He quickly became a leader in the room, encouraging and supporting his fellow ensemble members, many of whom were younger and more timid and needed his warm, uplifting energy.”

After participating in Opening Act for several years, Dante joined the Student Leadership Company, where his leadership and ability to support his peers and work in an ensemble truly shined, according to Maria. “Dante understood the value of supporting his ensemble and proved it with increasing commitment each semester…I have no doubt that Dante’s leadership skills will serve him well on college and beyond.”

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