More Wealth Than A Paycheck: The Journey of Two Daniel Mills Apprentices

William Daniel Mills Apprentices Sara Diaz and Luke Villeneuve are not just participating in the world of theater; they are living it, learning every step of the way. Beyond the allure of the stage lights and the applause lies a deeper reward for these two apprentices: a wealth of professional theater experience and practical knowledge that promises to shape their futures.


A Stage for Learning

At the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, an educational beacon partnered with the William Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program, the emphasis is on the holistic development of its apprentices. The program champions the myriad life skills fostered by theater arts education, such as collaboration, problem-solving and self-confidence. It’s a curriculum that Diaz and Villeneuve have embraced wholeheartedly.

Their recent roles in the William Daniel Mills Theatre Company’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at Fringe ArtSpace showcased their acting prowess. They underscored the program’s commitment to real-world learning. Diaz’s portrayal of Mrs. Shears and Voice Track 1, alongside Villeneuve’s compelling performance as Ed Boone, brought to life the intricate layers of the play’s narrative.


For the Love of Drama

For 19-year-old Villeneuve, a freshman at Valencia College, the stage offers a universe of possibilities. “As a kid, I thought I wanted to be a detective or a doctor or a scientist or some other cool job you see on TV,” he shares. “But then, once I started acting, I discovered I can be all those things. It’s sort of an everything-rolled-into-one job.” His passion for dramatic, non-musical plays like “Almost, Maine” reveals a deep appreciation for the art’s power to mirror the complexities of real life. “It’s all about people just trying to do their best,” Villeneuve says.


Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance

Diaz, a 17-year-old freshman at Valencia College, has always given her best effort. Her debut as Liesl in “The Sound of Music” with Theater South Playhouse was acclaimed, highlighting her dynamic presence and vocal talent. She’s refining her dance skills through ballet, a testament to her dedication to the craft. 

“Performing since I was 10 years old and graduating from high school early,” Diaz reflects, “I’ve loved [“The Sound of Music”] since I was little. The music is so lovely, and the message is so relevant. It’s about the power of kindness.”

Her dream? To breathe life into every major female role in “The Sound of Music” during her career. 


The Future’s Bright

Looking ahead, Villeneuve and Diaz are poised to take their experiences from the apprenticeship program to new heights. Villeneuve has aspirations in theater, TV, and film. He reflects that putting your mind to something and seeing it through is key to success. “To succeed in performing arts, all you have to do is put your whole heart into it. Once I understood that, I fell in love with it and got much better at it,” Villeneuve says.

His sentiments are matched by Diaz’s dreams of Broadway and beyond. “The experience I’m getting through the William Daniel Mills Apprenticeship is giving me access to so many excellent educational and professional opportunities,” Diaz enthuses. “Hopefully, one day, I can help other young people gain the personal insight and skills to succeed in the performing arts.”

As Diaz and Villeneuve continue to earn their stripes on the stage, their journey is a testament to the transformative power of theater education. It’s a narrative that not only entertains but inspires, reminding us of the enduring impact of the arts on personal growth and professional development.


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