Winter Garden resident Victoria Salisbury, 12, has been sewing and selling lanyards to pay her way toward training with Broadway professionals in New York.
Two years ago, Victoria Salisbury and her siblings were busy sewing and distributing felt hearts to people in the community in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
The young Winter Garden resident, now 12 and a rising seventh-grader, has tapped back into her sewing skills two years later for a different purpose: To help fund a trip to Broadway the week of July 8.
“I was accepted into a program called the Broadway Artist Alliance to go to New York for a week and take classes taught by Broadway stars,” Victoria said. “You get to learn more about the arts — acting, singing and dancing.”
The program has attendees “major” in one arts concentration such as dance or voice. Getting to train with Broadway professionals is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for Victoria, but it doesn’t come without costs — airfare, hotel and program tuition.
She was well aware of the costs but set out on a mission to pay for her tuition on her own. That’s when she came up with the idea of putting her sewing skills to use by creating and selling lanyards.
Victoria auditioned with her friend for the program in March, which required her to learn and perform a dance combination as well as sing and do a monologue. About six weeks later, she learned she — along with her friend — was accepted.
“It was really fun overall, and I felt good about it when I was done with it,” she said. “They sent me an offer for dance and voice, so I had to choose which one would be my major. … I was really happy.”
With some help from friends who have more experience in the theater community, Victoria decided to major in voice.
Victoria’s passion for the arts has been evident since she was small, her mother, Amanda Salisbury, said. She began dancing at 2 years old — mainly ballet, tap and jazz — and performed for the first time in “Oliver” at the Garden Theatre as a kindergartner.
“When we first went (to audition), we just went for the experience and didn’t have an expectation of getting an offer to go,” Amanda said. “We’re really excited for her to go to New York and train with professionals on Broadway.”
“My parents drive me everywhere and pay for all my classes I want to take, and I didn’t want this to be hard for them, because I know they spend a lot of money on it. I just wanted to do it myself.” - Victoria Salisbury
Victoria had wide eyes and a bright smile on her face as she talked about her upcoming trip. One of the highlights will be taking a voice class with Gavin Lee, the voice of Squidward in “The SpongeBob Musical,” as well as getting to take in a Broadway show and participating in a talk-back session with the cast. She’ll be immersed in the arts for five days.
“I’m just excited to learn something new, because you can always do regular camps, but I get to have fun and challenge my brain and learn at the same time (in New York),” Victoria said.
PAYING HER WAY
“My mom is a teacher, and she always wears lanyards, and I thought it’d be helpful to a bunch of people,” Victoria said. “My grandma helps me with the lanyards and taught me to sew. ... We do it together.
“My parents drive me everywhere and pay for all my classes I want to take, and I didn’t want this to be hard for them, because I know they spend a lot of money on it,” she said. “I just wanted to do it myself.”
Amanda Salisbury said her children are always conscious about sacrifice — whether it’s time or money — but she was pleasantly surprised by her daughter’s determination to help pay her way to New York.
“I was really proud that she came up with the idea to pay for this herself,” Amanda said. “She could’ve easily expected us to take care of it for her, so I was impressed with it. It’s an expensive trip — we have flights and hotels still — but she said she wanted to work for it. She came up with this idea, and she and her grandma started sewing.”
The two went to Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts and looked in the clearance section for fabric. Victoria got to work cutting and ironing the fabric to prepare for sewing.
So far, the two estimate Victoria has made close to 150 lanyards, which she sells for $10 apiece. She has been selling them for a couple of months now and plans to continue until they are all gone.
“My original goal was $500, or about half of the tuition, and I just switched it to $1,100, which is the full tuition,” she said. “I just want to try to pay for it all by myself.”
Although she’s ecstatic about the support she has gotten thus far, the best part for her is seeing the reactions of happy customers.
“I just like seeing people’s reactions and seeing people I know with the lanyards, especially just giving them to them,” she said. “It feels good, because they’ll send me pictures and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I love it!’”