The Digicel Rising Stars team pulled in Thursday, 1st of April at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston for the second set of auditions for the 7th season of the number one show on Jamaican TV. The auditions, though not opened to prospective contestants but instead for any Jamaican who thinks they have the skills and pizazz to be the next host of Digicel Rising Stars had a huger turnout that its Montego Bay location at the Wexford Court Hotel on Tuesday, March 30.
With the exit of 2007 Miss Jamaica World Yendi Phillipps as host of the hit series, the producers of Digicel Rising Stars made the decision to open auditions for the host of the 2010 Digicel Rising Stars to the public. Series producer Sharon Schroeter believes opening the auditions for the Digicel Rising Stars series host is the best way forward: “Anyone in Jamaica, male or female, over the age of 18 who believes they have the talent the vibe and the excitement to be the next host for Digicel Rising Stars can audition. Jamaica has, over the last several years, embraced to competition and we thought it would be a great idea for Jamaica to choose who they feel is the best person to be the next host.”
With this historic moment in the Digicel Rising Stars, and the Series Producer Sharon Schoreter making an appeal in the STAR that the competition was open to both male and female, after only one male auditioned in Montego Bay, your homeboy Dexter decided to showcase his dexterity on television.
At approximately 4:40pm homeboy armed with a gang of three friends, Samara South, Kennise Watson and Nordia Francis stepped unto the Knutsford premise, determined that we were gonna audition! We had just made our way back from the Jamaica Stock Exchange and touring communities in the downtown areas that Grace Kennedy Co. has been involved in the form of social transformation projects since 1969. Instantly we headed on over to the pitched tent, signed up and were in receipt of four scripts to read from.
Damn did we know we were in for a long wait! After not seeing any activity, i.e. anyone crying or behaving erratic for 30 minutes, enquires left us with answers that the Digicel Rising Stars audition team was on a break. Understandable, as Kennise got auditionee number 200, Nordia got 201, while 202 went to Samara and I closing the gang with 204. Chatter and laughter erupted amongst the four of us, to do our best by nailing it!
As time passed we paced back and forth, reading, adding emotions, gestures, and our own flair of personality to the script; as we heard we were expected to ‘bring the script alive’ when we would go before the judges. As was expected the time finally came and the judges resumed their roles. In and out prospective hosts went, and right there it became more and more evident that 203 wasn’t far from 103, where they had resumed from; I started feeling my heart in my mouth. I turn to my friends and said, “Honestly I feel for a Pepsi to refresh my world and KFC to do this thing better”.
As nervousness blended with laughter went up in the sky, we couldn’t fail to notice some of the flamboyant characters associated with auditions for Digicel Rising Stars to keep some of the nerves away; I must say we weren’t jittery yet, but enjoying ourselves. We assisted each other, ensuring that we were on cue with pronunciations and chatted up with our fellow contenders. Interacting with them was good; we got the chance to hear what they thought of the show and the audition.
Not absence from our conversations though was the all-embracing media personalities and theatre performers that were in the race. We notice Adrian Atkinson, formerly of HOT 102 FM and Host of Drive Time Live now at Power 106 FM; Heather “Brown Sugar” Grant of RJR 94 FM; from Hype TV Andre Hype; Christopher “Johnny” Daley; Terri-Karelle Griffith, Miss Jamaica World 2005; Markland Davis from Nationwide Radio (though we never saw him going in for audition) amongst several others including Miss Jamaica 2009 contestant and Fiwi Choice host, Amita, Singer Italee, Milk and Quiz.
The buzz among many were this was going to be a battle out to cop the top Digicel Rising Stars job from them, particular because of their popularity and professional experience; not absence was the mention that the non-recycling of these persons would be good for the show. But would such prevail given the little time to “groom a new host for Rising Stars”, as some persons have suggested? Would an ordinary Jamaica, or never before seen within the spotlight as these persons be given the role of Host for Season 7 of Digicel Rising Stars?
At some minutes after 8pm “203” was called and in I walked, throat needing water, heart pounding as if I had just erased Usain Bolt’s 100m world record; I literally felt the blood rushing to my eyes. My eyes shrunk at the glare of the lights. I wasn’t sure when I was given the microphone, but one thing I knew I had it in hand and was being told to toe a line marked with pale cellophane tape.
“Look into the camera and read from ‘Also here tonight…’ ready when you’re,” stung one of the judges for the audition. As the words slip from her lips the script that I had went over for so much time seem a tatty-bit unfamiliar. Instantly, my eyes slapped across the panel of adjudicators, never had I seen that much people for one thing. There must have been like 7 or more people at the table looking at me.
I can’t remember being asked my name but I repeated, ‘I’m Leethan Grandison’; not even sure if I could heard myself and took a deep breathe (remembering the words of my friend Keresa who had sent me a text message earlier. I held the microphone in my right-hand, script in my left-hand, looked at the panel, then the camera. Right then and there I realised the unnerving experience one can have being in front of the camera and, as such, confused the line at first.
“Ugh,” I echoed as I realise I was erring. “So wrong, let’s take that again. Take 2,” laughing to myself I smack the lines I was given. The judge who had just told me “just be yourself”. Just a bit less nervous I tried again, thoughts gushed through my head ‘was it this bad being in front of a camera or was it that I was so conscious of what it was I was doing’? I stood for a bit, attempting to familiar myself with the script once again, when I heard the camera man yell ‘action’ and like it was my cue I spewed the lines from my lips. While I think I did descent, I believe I felt my 1 minute to nabbed the job was best at the last 5 seconds. As I peaked with my last words it was obvious I was me, enjoying myself.
So…I wait now like Kennise, Nordia, Samara and the others who audition what will happen next. Will I get a chance to redeem myself?
Hey world it was fun to have been there and that is the most crucial thing!