Daniel Mills: The Important Lesson Of Never Giving Up

Siena Forrester, a West Orange High School senior, and Cruz Donovan, a University of Central Florida sophomore, both Daniel Mills Apprentices.

Auditioning for the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship

Siena Forrester, a West Orange High School senior, and Cruz Donovan, a University of Central Florida sophomore, share more than just theater arts. They both auditioned for the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship in the past and were not selected for the program. But this year, they gave it another go and got the nod, learning one of the most valuable lessons: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 

Beginning with singing in her school choir in third grade, Forrester grew up in Georgia and moved to Winter Garden in sixth grade. Forrester says she’s not particularly happy she didn’t get the apprenticeship the first time she auditioned in 2020. 

“During my first audition [for the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship], I think I had such high expectations of myself,” Forrester says. “This time, I was actually thinking about calling to cancel because I had a cold. But then I got there and just did my thing. I think not expecting to be perfect made me feel more confident, and my audition went better.”

The Importance of Self-Confidence

Forrester admits she used to feel jealous of performers–especially those even younger than her–who had a lot of self-confidence. Time and practice have helped her grow more courageous. Now, she looks forward to growing even bolder with an audition workshop offered to the apprentices. Forrester has always loved singing and counts her dad as one of her biggest cheerleaders. 

“Singing comes easiest to me because it’s something I’ve done for so long. Acting and dancing are a little more complicated for me, but I’m excited to have the opportunity to expand those skills through the Daniels Mills Apprenticeship,” Forrester says.

Next up, after the apprenticeship, Forrester has her sights set on applying to Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.

Never Give up

Donovan, who also auditioned more than once before being accepted into the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship, advises other performers to keep honing their craft and never stop auditioning if they love performing. 

“There’s going to be nos and people who don’t see you,” he says. “But there will also be people who do see your talent and will give you an opportunity.” 

Donovan is grateful for the opportunity to earn while learning as an apprentice this year. Acting is all Donovan has ever wanted to do. In high school, he performed at the district and state Thespian Festivals with his school’s troupe and was thrilled when they received “superior status” for their performances at both festivals. 

His first taste of theater came when he was in fourth grade and attended a Wizarding World camp put on by the Orlando Rep. The premise of the camp was performing plays based on student-created Harry Potter adjacent characters. 

Having a Support System

Now as then, Donovan enjoys being able to give birth to new characters. As part of UCF’s Project Spotlight, Donovan routinely works on never-before-seen theater projects with student playwrights and directors to develop new plays.

“I like the idea of bringing yourself and your own lived experience into a character no one has ever seen. But I love being able to walk around in a well-established character, too. That’s what’s so cool about acting; it has so many different elements to love about it,” Donovan says.

As a member of Alpha Psi Omega (APO), a co-ed collegiate National Theatre Honor Society, Donovan knows that having a support network can be extremely helpful. 

“When you’re a performer, there can be some nos. It comes with the territory,” he says. “Hopefully, there will be even more yeses as I continue to build my skills and my network through the apprenticeship.” 


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Written by Tarre Beach

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