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Tehya Baxter

Tehya Baxter

If it weren’t for my three closest friends from graduate school, three girls completely unrelated to the dance world, I never would have sent in a tape. Their support and encouragement finally convinced me that they were right: this is an opportunity that could completely change my life. One of the girls lent me a video recorder and I recruited my ten-year-old brother as cameraman. When the video appeared on the website on April 13th, I was nervous – I felt so vulnerable putting myself out for the public vote – but the instant outpouring of support was incredible. I publicized the video on my Facebook and immediately, people began voting and sharing the link. I am especially indebted to the three friends who talked me into uploading the video. They spread the link to a myriad of people who hadn’t heard of Heartbeat of Home, including their friends, relatives, colleagues, and students who then spread the link as well, creating a chain that has spiraled to proportions I never thought imaginable (including an elementary school in Chile, a store in Santa Barbara, and an office in New York City). When I went to bed that first night, my video had nearly 1000 votes, a number that seemed simply surreal.
But undoubtedly, the most amazing moment in this experience has been waking up to nearly 5000 votes, skyrocketing up to 11th place on only the second day. Words cannot begin to describe how overwhelmed I felt. Somehow, overnight, not only had the links that I had posted on my Facebook spread like wildfire to Twitter and Tumblr (and the entire UCLA Crew team), but people who I had never met were voting for me as well. That simple acknowledgement – people I had never met felt that I was worthy to be a part of such an incredible production – is a moment that will stay with me forever. To date, people in 54 different countries have viewed my video.

Sometimes when you want something so badly, you talk yourself out of it so that you don’t get hurt. I had done exactly that with this audition. Waking up on the second day in 11th place made me realize that the live audition wasn’t just something to dream of: it was a tangible possibility. I am eternally grateful to everyone who has voted for me and to the producers for creating this opportunity; this experience has taught me the importance of taking every chance to follow your dreams. If you don’t, you’ll never know what could have been.

Tehya Baxter

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