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Proud, gifted and determined

Raised in the tight-knit neighbourhoods around Parsons Road, award-winning teen performer DeAzha Chambers is proud of her community. She also uses her stage gifts to give voice to its social issues.

As the winner of youth charity Teen Service’s annual Outstanding Teen Award in the Performing Arts category, DeAzha commended the group: “They’ve never lost hope in the youth,” she said.

There were more than 100 nominees for this month’s awards.

“That’s just a portion of the students that work hard every day in Bermuda, and who are dedicated to their studies,” she said. “I know we’re all fighting for the same thing, which is to give back to Bermuda. There’s a vast amount of us out there who are trying to make it a better place.”

DeAzha auditioned for Teen Services with her dramatic monologue ‘I’ll Be Damned’ a piece developed with youth arts group TROIKA.

An earlier monologue ‘Ammunition’, gave a prescient voice to the grief caused by gun violence. DeAzha performed it not long before her godfather Kimwandae Walker was gunned down on Good Friday, 2010, on the school field near her Peet Lane home.

‘I’ll De Damned’ is a similarly high-emotion piece, but speaks to the experience of the ex-slave and US abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who helped lead others to freedom on the Underground Railroad in the 19th century.

“It was an incredible opportunity,” recalled DeAzha, a 17-year-old CedarBridge student who is now turning her talents to helping design the class of 2012’s Fusion fashion show, coming up April 20 at the school’s Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. “It’s a beautiful piece to perform.”

She will also join student dancers on stage at the upcoming Carifta Games.

Art runs in her family, from gifted singers great-grandfather Rudy James and mother Jackqueline Taylor, to her musician brother Andwele Simons.

But the “backbone” of her talent, DeAzha said, lies in the strong values at home and in the extended family of her Pembroke community.

“That’s one of those places in Bermuda where people really look out for each other,” she said.

A veteran of Terrylynn Doyle’s etiquette classes for young women, DeAzha also credits her mother’s self-sacrifice as a single parent for showing her what matters in life, saying simply: “My mother is my rock.”

She added: “I still work under the direction of Nishanthi Bailey. She’s no longer with TROIKA. She’s my real model when it comes to acting she’s inspired me from day one. She doesn’t even know sometimes that she’s teaching me.”

While DeAzha knows she wants to “come back and give back” in terms of studying arts, she plans a postsecondary education grounded in business. A principal’s honours student, a prefect since S3 and former President of the Student Government, she’s devoted to learning but sees her ultimate mission in artistic terms.

“A lot of people in Bermuda feel like you can’t pursue the arts because there’s no way to earn any money from it,” she said. “I want our youth to know they can.”

DeAzha Chambers

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Published March 31, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 31, 2012 at 8:57 am)

Proud, gifted and determined

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