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by Greta Yeoman

Mackenzie singer Peggie Barnes has recently returned from her “intrepid journey” to Los Angeles to take part in the World Championships of Performing Arts – bringing home several awards.

Ms Barnes was competing as part of the New Zealand “Black Stars” team at the nine-day event, in which representatives from 65 countries competed in a variety of performing arts, including acting, modelling and singing.

“The information and knowledge I gained from that day was immeasurable.” – Peggie Barnes

She came home with an industry medal, which acknowledged her rising talents in the industry, and two scholarships, one for 25% off a four-week workshop with the New York Film Academy and one for $20,000 towards a two-year course at The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

“I competed in three singing and two acting strands as a soloist. My songs included one from The Little Mermaid and one from Les Miserables.”

There was a boot camp on the day before the competition started, which “sounds very different to how it was”, she said.

Boot camp was a series of seminars and workshops held by professionals, which Ms Barnes said was “highly valuable”, as she met music producers, coaches and the leading casting director for Disney Entertainment.

“The information and knowledge I gained from that day was immeasurable.”

The competition began and while the preliminary performances were supposed to run over three days, Ms Barnes had all five of her performances on one day.

“[It was] seriously nerve-racking due to the immense talent I was surrounded by,” she said.

Ms Barnes then made it into the semifinals for her acting, where the age bracket was widened from 16-17 to 16-30+, meaning she was “up against even stronger competition”.

The semifinals contained fewer than 100 competitors across the whole competition, from 400-plus originally, so her participation “was a huge feat” of its own.

While she did not progress to the Showcase stage, her “rest day” the following day gave her the chance to audition for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

Five of her Kiwi co-competitors made it through to the Showcase stage. The Black Stars team did “incredibly well”, winning more than 50 medals, four industry awards, more than five overall awards and eight scholarships.

Ms Barnes would take up her conservatory scholarship in New York – which would open up many casting opportunities and train her in musical theatre and screen acting – late next year.

“My career as an actress begins there.”