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How Daniel Mills Apprentices Learn to Overcome Fear

At first glance, Efrain Costa-Hernandez, a junior at Evans High School on the theater tech track, and Caydence Collins, a senior at Wekiva High School on the theater performance track, may not seem to have much in common. But you’ll notice a certain similarity once you learn more about them. They are learning how to face their fears through the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program.

In the Beginning of the Daniel Mills Program

Costa-Hernandez got involved in theater on a whim. 

“I joined the school drama club because it seemed interesting, and my friends were a part of it. I didn’t know it would be so much fun,” Costa-Hernandez says.

Although he tried his hand at acting, Costa-Hernandez says he knew early on that being in the spotlight was not for him. As an introvert, he says he enjoys making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes instead.

While Collins isn’t an attention-seeker, she loves to sing and entertain others. It started with singing in her church choir and became a full passion for the performing arts. 

As the daughter of a voice teacher, it may not be surprising that Collins fell in love with musical theater. But even she was surprised when she landed the lead role of Dorothy in Standing Ovation Theater Company’s production of “The Wiz,” which she performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (DPCPA) this summer.  

“When I found out I got the lead, it felt great,” Collins says. “But it was a little scary, too.” 

Costa-Hernandez knows the feeling. “When my teacher, Ms. Mariellen Batchelor, suggested I learn [how to control] the soundboard, I thought that would be cool and a lot of responsibility,” Costa-Hernandez says. 

The Tie that Binds

Both Collins and Costa-Hernandez say they’re most afraid of making a mistake when it comes to their theater work. From either side of the stage, perfectionism and self-criticism are nearly identical. 

For Collins, doing a solo at the District Thespian Festival has been a sticking point. And for Costa-Hernandez, it’s been running the soundboard by himself. But fear won’t stop either of them. Collins is gearing up to do her first solo at this year’s district event, and Costa-Hernandez says with more practice, he hopes to get to helm the soundboard on his own before he graduates from high school. 

Spreading Their Wings

Through the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program, both Costa-Hernandez and Collins are gaining valuable experience with theater professionals that will help them on their theater journey.

Idolizing performers such as Whitney Houston and Taraji P. Henson, Collins expects to reprise her role as Dorothy in “The Wiz” at DPCPA in November and looks forward to studying theater in college. 

While he admits he still has a lot to learn, Costa-Hernandez says he hopes to turn his love of tech into a college and possibly even professional career in either engineering, music production or theater sound design. 

The paid apprenticeship is a great community resource that expands their skills and makes working in the industry they love so much more accessible.

Written by Tarre Beach

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