The clear breakout performer at the annual Fusion Model and Talent search in Las Vegas was Dakodah Hall. Her story is both an inspiring and instructive one for youngsters wanting to become models or professional performers. The search took place on November 5tth and 6th, 2011.
This was not Dakodah’s first appearance at a talent search event. If fact, she had been to three previous searches, with increasingly successful results each time. If anything, hers is a story showing that timing matters, dedication to the craft matters, and hard work matters – a lot. In her first try in a talent search event she got relatively little notice; in this most recent Fusion event she got a callback from every one of the attending producers, talent agents and managers and was offered a contract by five of them. She, her father and her grandmother are still sorting through the offers to decide which one to accept. As a performer it’s the problem you want to have.
So what changed from that first attempt to the most recent one? A LOT of hard work, helped along by a father willing to make great sacrifices to support the training, travel, competitions and performances that she needed to gain the skills and experience to compete successfully in the professional market. It also helps – a great deal – that she has a grandmother who has been willing to give up her own profession to take care of and support Dakodah while dad is working to support the family.
There is a lesson in there: getting to where you can work as a professional singer, actor or dancer isn’t something you can just step into and expect to be successful. It takes an enormous amount of time, training and dedication. Dakodah spends ten hours a week, every week, practicing dance, and has for years. She and her partner Franco Alvarez have won over 100 ballroom dance contests through USA Dance. She has had two voice coaches, and finally has matured to where she has her own distinctive style. That she was born with perfect pitch didn’t hurt either.
And she is now all of nine years old.
So what happened at Fusion? Most of the competitors compete as “models” as their first appearance in front of the judges, and Dakodah was among them. So she walks on stage, full of confidence and personality, cute with a great smile . . . but, well . . . she’s 9 years old, she lives in Las Vegas, and agents from Los Angeles have lots of cute kids with great smiles to choose from. She’d be competitive in modeling go-sees, but no more than that, and not enough “Wow” to justify trying to make the commute to LA to compete for jobs.
The next time Dakodah appeared on stage is was as a singer. There had already been several singers preceding her, some quite good, some much less so, and again, it’s hard to make a mark as a singer at age 9. And yet . . . she did. This nine-year-old has a powerful voice that could easily be coming from an adult, and she understands phrasing and how to tell a story in her song. At this point all the judges were taking notes.
Finally Dakodah appeared in the dance competition, first with her partner in a ballroom routine, and then solo. The training, experience and previous competitions showed, and she produced a polished performance in each segment. Done deal – everybody wanted to work with her.
As a model, it’s pictures that matter, but as an actor, singer or dancer, the resume is very important. That Dakodah has years of professional training, has been a principle performer in several TV commercial, has been on the cover and featured in an article in Vegas 7 magazine all matter. It’s what tells a casting director that “this is a person I can count on to show up and deliver”.
All of which is why Dakodah and her family now have to choose among so many offers.