Local star follows dreams afar

De Leon pursuing musical theatre in New York City

Coppell+High+School+senior+Sydney+de+Le%C3%B3n+was+accepted+into+Pace+University+for+a+Bachelor+of+Fine+Arts+in+Musical+Theater.+This+is+a+highly+selective+program+that+accepts+about+26-28+students+each+year+from+all+over+the+world.+

Sreehitha Moravaneni

Coppell High School senior Sydney de León was accepted into Pace University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater. This is a highly selective program that accepts about 26-28 students each year from all over the world.

Iniya Nathan, Staff Writer

Coppell High School senior Sydney de León was sitting at the cafeteria during lunch when she got a call from an unknown number. About to ignore it, she sees the New York City area code and answers her phone, heart thudding. 

Expecting to be rejected, de León listens in shock as the person on the phone lets her know she has been accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts Musical Theater program at Pace University.

Pace is one of the top universities for performing arts, and its BFA Musical Theater program only accepts 26-28 students per year. De León was accepted with a scholarship of around $30,000 a year.

De León first started doing theater in third grade when her mother, Dawn Parry, had her join Austin Elementary School’s Drama Club to give her an outlet for her creative energy and get her out of the house.

No matter what role she’s playing, whether it be the lead role or an ensemble member, she’s always putting her full heart and attention into it. She really believes there are no small parts, only small actors. She’s always putting her best foot forward, and she’s always really passionate about theater. That’s what shines about her.”

— CHS senior Xander Davila

“I go [to the drama club], get home and I’m clutching the scripts in my hands and vibrating in excitement,” de León said. “I remember [saying something] along the lines of, ‘Mommy I’m going to do this forever.’”

During high school, de León has been part of three musicals at CHS, and outside of school, she has been part of 20 to 25 productions. She has performed at the Ohlook Performing Arts Center, competed at the Junior Theater Festival, and for her performances at CHS, she has been nominated for Best Female Ensemble by the Schmidt and Jones Awards twice, as ensemble in “All Shook Up” in 2018-19 and as Jojo in “Newsies” in 2019-20.

CHS theater director Karen Ruth consistently casts de León in the ensemble for musicals, which is the supporting cast of the show.

“She’s a strong singer, actor and dancer,” Ruth said. “We call her a triple threat. She’s 1,000% good enough to be in the lead roles – she just has so much energy, and you can’t stop watching her on stage, and in the ensemble, she’s on stage all the time.”

While many people may think being cast in the ensemble is less exciting than being in the lead roles, de León disagrees.

“You have your leading woman and your leading man and all these characters that have specific songs and scenes,” de León said. “The ensemble are the people who make up the rest of the dance members who play the miscellaneous people. The leads play the leads and the ensemble plays the rest of the world. It’s so much more fun because you get to be in everything. When I’m in the ensemble, I get to do everything.”

Her nominations for being part of the ensemble show her dedication to the role, and she plans on focusing on being in the ensemble and being an understudy in college.

“No matter what role she’s playing, whether it be the lead role or an ensemble member, she’s always putting her full heart and attention into it,” CHS senior Xander Davila said. “She really believes there are no small parts, only small actors. She’s always putting her best foot forward, and she’s always really passionate about theater. That’s what shines about her.”

Coppell High School senior Sydney de León was accepted into Pace University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater. This is a highly selective program that accepts about 26-28 students each year from all over the world. (Sreehitha Moravaneni)

De León has always known she wanted to do something in the performing arts, but had only narrowed down her options to musical theater in middle school when she was more exposed to the art and realized she could make a career out of it. 

“The musical theater audition process is very hard because [with most other degrees] it’s all your test scores, and with theater programs it’s like Tinder,” de León said. “You show up and you’re like, ‘Hi, this is me, this is what I can do.’ And they say, ‘Yes this is what our program wants,’ or ‘No, this isn’t.’”

De León’s mother supported her in her decision to pursue musical theater.

“I was worried because it’s so highly specific and it’s so hard to get into and stigma about how it’s an art degree it’s not a real degree,” de León said. “My mom sat me down and said, ‘If this is what you want to do, do it. Make the degree work for you, not you work for the degree. You’ve worked for it, and we’ll catch you if you fall.’”

After finishing her degree, de León’s goal is to have a steady job performing and hopes to join Broadway or a touring company and travel around, performing all the time.

“One of my favorite things is when you’re getting ready backstage because you’re in front of the mirror, putting on makeup, doing your hair and getting dressed, and somebody always plays music, and you’re drinking tea, and you’re talking about everything and nothing,” de León said. “That sense of community of everybody in one room getting ready for this scene is just wonderful. I look forward to it every time, because this is why I love what I do.”

Follow Iniya (@iniya_v) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.