Aspiring actress seeks help getting to NY


By Kevin Spradlin

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It takes a village to raise a child, the saying goes. Bayleigh Varner is hoping her village will help send her to New York.

The life 16-year-old Hamlet resident and sophomore at Richmond Senior High School has changed drastically since mid-March and Varner’s hopeful of riding the momentum as far as it will take her. And if all the promises made to her since late March visit to Greensboro come true, she’ll soon be on the same set as Hollywood star Channing Tatum.

Submitted photo Bayleigh Varner, a cheerleader at Richmond Senior High School, hopes to soon perform on a much larger stage.

Submitted photo
Bayleigh Varner, a cheerleader at Richmond Senior High School, hopes to soon perform on a much larger stage.

Varner’s mother, Kelly McLean, said she and her daughter traveled to Greensboro hotel as Varner’s potential was evaluated. Officials representing 3-2-1 Shine Acting Studios, a California-based agency that provides training for aspiring actors and actresses. Of course, that training isn’t free.

“She’s taking some classes in Greensboro,” McLean said. “She’s going to go (to New York) if we have to fund the complete trip ourselves. It’s very costly, but it will give her more exposure.”

The trip to New York is a costly one, with a price tag of about $6,400. From July 20 to July 24, it will offer Varner the opportunity to b evaluated by an estimated 400 talent agents.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was watching American Idol,” Varner said.

Varner is a Richmond Senior High School cheerleader and “I love to read.”

“It has to b a good story,” she said, “or I just can’t get into it. Hand me a book and, if it’s good, I’ll read it within three days.”

Varner’s favorite book is A Walk to Remember, a teen romance story by Nicholas Sparks. Her favorite television show is “Pretty Little Liars” and favorite move is “Bring It On.”

She enjoys gymnastics, doesn’t like but but “I love biology” and said she sports a 3.5 GPA.

Submitted photo Bayleigh Varner

Submitted photo
Bayleigh Varner

Varner isn’t interested in being a singer, but within the popular singing contest show Varner said she enjoyed learning of the singers’ personal stories and what they did to overcome any obstacles to pursue their dreams.

“This is really the first step,” Varner said. “I never really knew where to start.”

Without a doubt, there has been no small amount of skepticism within the family. McLean, a manicurist, and her husband — Bayleigh’s stepfather — works with a local paper manufacturer. The family is a part of the working class people and doesn’t have a lot of extra cash.

“If we were lawyers and doctors, we wouldn’t worry about a fundraiser,” McLean said.

McLean said she and her husband will do anything to help fulfill their daughter’s dreams — even if it means asking for help from friends and strangers alike.

One 3-2-1 Shine representativ wanted Bayleigh to take a class. The first hour cost $1,960 and was to go each Saturday and Sunday for up to five weeks through the May 2 showcase.

“I don’t know if we can afford to do that or not,” McLean wondered aloud.

The talent agency offered to subsidize Varner’s participation in the form of a scholarship; it reduced the cost by nearly half — $960 to be exact.

“Bayleigh had $1,000 in her bank account,” McLean said. The bill was paid that day.

Varner said she isn’t worried. A coaching session from Daniel Benson, of television’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” removed any doubts she might have had. Benson agreed to coach Varner at no cost, McLean said — a $7,000 bill wiped away.

Initially, though, McLean had reason to be cynical. The cost of the classes were just a part of the package.

“It it’d been up to me, I would have walked out that day and we’d have never went back,” McLean said, “but thank God we did not. I was totally convinced yesterday when I was on Skype with Dave Kelly,” McLean said. “It’s all starting to come together now.”

Varner agreed.

“It’s worked out pretty well so far,” she said.

There are two tracks Varner is currently pursuing. One is IMTA in New York. The other is a training opportunity that she believes will lead to an on-screen appearance on “American High,” a concept of Dave Kelly Entertainment CEO Dave Kelly.

According to its website, “The ‘High’ part of the program’s title refers to both the high school audience that the show has been created for, and the positive and inspirational content that the show will be presenting, resulting in an encouraging and uplifting effect on the viewing audience, and also making it extremely ‘parent friendly,’ as well as worthy of local print and TV news coverage; a fact that will further boost the fame of the local star’s who are chosen to host the show. These hosts will use their own talents to interact in an entertaining manner with the featured local teens. The main focus of “American High” will be to follow the after-school activities of High School kids all over the country, covering multiple interests and activities, such as fashion, beauty, drama, technology, music, films, video games, sports, etc.”

Varner participated in a showcase event on May 2, which served as her audition to be accepted into the International Modeling and Talent Association lessons in New York. To get there, McLean said her daughter is spearheading a fundraising campaign that includes an online collection effort.




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