“I felt that I was something…I felt that all the pieces were clicking together, and that is the feeling that I have every time that I get up on stage–I feel like myself.”

Hilary Nuñez | Opening Act Alum

See what Hilary’s mother and one of her teaching artists have to say about her time at Opening Act.

Hilary came to the United States at the age of 15, not knowing any English. Opening Act gave her a home and helped her navigate high school: “Opening Act has been like a family to me, is a home that I know wherever the world takes me I would go back to where I belong and where everything started. Opening Act helped me in a lot of ways in my experiences in high school…it’s really hard, but I was lucky that I noticed those flyers in the hallway talking about an acting after-school program called Opening Act.” Opening Act allowed Hilary to look forward to going to school, even when it was hard: “Everyday after I joined Opening Act, I was more excited to be at school. I was more determined to learn more English and become a good actress in the program.”

Opening Act helped Hilary become her true self on stage. She describes this feeling: “I felt like it was my day, I felt that I couldn’t do anything wrong, I felt that I was something… I felt that all the pieces were clicking together, and that is the feeling that I have every time that I get up on stage. I feel like myself and that’s something that I would always be grateful with Opening Act–they made me discover the real Hilary, the real me, and where I belong to be.”

At Opening Act, Hilary also learned lessons that extend far beyond the stage: “I now have the strength to step out and talk in a front of a lot of people…I learned that no matter how hard it gets, you have to keep going…because if you try and you feel good you are winner inside and out. I finally found myself, I know my next steps are to keep dreaming and do something about it. I’ll be pursuing the arts, acting especially because that’s what makes me most passionate. I will go far and when I’m on the top, I promise I will come back home, where everything started.”

Bianna Pena

Hilary’s mother

Bianna Pena, Hilary’s mother, noticed immense growth in Hilary after she joined Opening Act: “I saw her grow since she joined the program. Itdefined who she really is and what she really wants in life. She got to set and accomplish some of her goals and met people that were extremely supportive and motivated. The abilities that she gained through these years; such as responsibility, and her commitment to give everything no matter if she is not getting anything back, is everything to me. I really am grateful to Opening Act for making my daughter a leader that nobody will ever forget. ”

Kate Perkins

Former Opening Act Teaching Artist

Kate Perkins, one Hilary’s teaching artists, says that Opening Act allowed Hilary to showcase the determination that she always had: “When I first met her, she was new to the country and wasn’t comfortable speaking in English, but she always put herself out there and tried everything, whether she was uncertain or not. Through Opening Act, I could see Hilary building her confidence and soon I was hearing stories from her about how this confidence rippled out into her academic and social life: she was getting good grades, she was auditioning for this, she was speaking at that–no matter what she tried, she was excelling. I know her time and participation with Opening Act was a huge influencer in her development, but Hilary herself had the drive from the get-go. She tried, and made things happen for herself!”

According to Kate, the biggest skill Hilary gained at Opening Act was confidence. “Through Opening Act, Hilary developed confidence that translated to every facet of her life…She exercised leadership, commitment, and determination at every turn. She’s the person she is today because she put in the work to create opportunities for herself and pursued them with everything she had–she’s a self-made amazing individual who I had the distinct pleasure of knowing and teaching.”

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