Getting ahead is no laughing matter
adanja Bailey’s experience at college might sound like a fairytale to some young people.
He did not need a scholarship and he paid for his tuition himself, by working through school breaks.
“Today the world is a much different place,” said the 40-year-old, who graduated from New York’s Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in 2001. “The cost of living has at least tripled since I was in school.”
It is with that in mind that he and his sister set up Nadanja and Nishanthi’s N’tertainment Scholarship three years ago. It’s for anyone studying performing or visual arts; dancers have benefited so far, with bursaries of $9,000 and $6,000 respectively.
“It’s for someone who wants to make the arts their career,” Mr Bailey said. “I think Bermuda has some of the best entertainers in the world, but they are not given opportunities to broaden their horizons.
“They aren’t given the opportunity to see what they can do as entertainers. The Bermuda Arts Council does a fantastic job, but that’s just about it. We want to help.”
The siblings’ annual fundraiser, Nadanja’s Birthday Comedy Show, takes place on September 16. Overseas comedians John Moses, Nikki Carr and Eddie Bryant will take to the stage as well as local acts Jah, and Jonathan Young.
“I really look forward to the show every year,” said Mr Bailey, who celebrates his birthday on September 27. “I look forward to it, and I would say that people look forward to it as well.
“When I used to perform on the circuit in the United States I met a lot of people.
“I have performed with all three of these overseas guys before and we’ve kept in touch.”
The show has raised $15,000 since 2015. Rosa’s Cantina is chipping in this year. Proceeds from the Laugh Your Pants Off cocktail will go straight to the scholarship fund.
Mr Bailey is hoping it will help raise its profile. “I don’t think a lot of people know about it,” he said.
He is eager to do his part to help young people follow their passions.
“When I first went to university, I actually wanted to be a maths teacher,” he said. “I got into a good school and studied maths for two years.”
As time passed at Georgia College & State University, he realised he was more interested in the theatre productions he took part in on the side.
“I realised my passion was actually in performing,” he said.
He left and enrolled at the Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.
“It was a real school that just focused on entertaining, and teaching you how to act,” he said. “A lot of well-known actors went there such as Leslie Nielsen from Naked Gun and singer Brandy.”
He considers himself lucky he was able to make the switch as many young people in Bermuda get pushed towards the finance industry.
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “At the end of the day there are a lot of jobs here in that industry. You’ll be able to support your family.
“But if it’s not what you want to do, then don’t do it. Why do a job, you’re not happy in?”
Nadanja’s Birthday Comedy Show takes place on September 16 at 9pm at The Earl Cameron Theatre.
General admission is $55 and VIP tickets are $100. Buy them from 27th Century Boutique, Stefanel and bdatix.bm.
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