Area Youth on Center Stage at Star Center Theatre

It’s not all about becoming famous…

Arts, Culture and Entertainment – add some passion and you have The Star Center Children’s Theatre.  The Star Center Theatre provides arts, education and performance opportunities to Gainesville area youth and their families.  Recently, I met with the owner of The Star Center, Ms. Rhonda Wilson. Ms. Wilson has a true passion for the arts but an even greater love for children and for giving back to the community, she shares how she has combined her love, passions and talents to impact young lives for over 15 years.

Q; How does teaching the performing arts benefit the youth?

A:  Over the years, I have seen so many kids come through the program and go on to do great things.  It’s not just about being famous or becoming an actor, most kids go on to become successful in other fields.  It helps develop social skills, you learn to get along with other types of people. In theatre you have kids from everywhere, from all economic backgrounds, from all ethnicities, it’s a microcosm of the real world so you learn to get along with and interact with different groups of people.  Theatre is an even playing field, they are all kids that enjoy performing, so they are all the same on the stage.

Q: Tell me more about the Star Center Theatre.

A: The Star Center was founded in the Summer of 2000.  We have grown each year and currently we serve over 250 children annually.  Each year the children participate in live performances which allow them to master skills on the stage and to participate in all aspects of production.  They are specifically trained in the roles of director, musicians, costumers, visual artists and choreographers. Some of our students come back as instructors in our summer programs.

Our mission is to provide experiences that educate, challenge and inspire young people through the arts.  We help youth to develop lifelong skills that can be used in any profession they choose.

Q:  How is entertainment valuable to our community?

A:  People move to communities where there are Arts & Culture.  People like to escape, rather its to the movies, a dance or just going to a concert.  Theatre is an escape for the performer and for the audience members. People need that right now, they need an escape or something just to remind them or reconnect them with the community.  Theatre can remind people that they need to get involved. While it’s allowing them to escape, it also reminds them and makes them think about the needs of others. It serves as a call of action, a motivation to do something.

By Virginia Grant, Executive Director, Gainesville Black Professionals

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