My twelve year old daughter Melia is my motivation and inspiration.
Three years ago, when Melia was in Fifth Grade, she decided to run for School Secretary. I attended her rehearsal the day before the election. All the candidates for the various offices delivered their speech to a room of their peers, teachers, and a few parents. I was so proud of Melia. She was very poised and gave one of the best speeches. I had the sense that she would be competitive. When we got home that evening, she practiced for me and got to the point where she didn’t even need her notecards. I was really excited for her.
The next day, when I picked her up, she was crying. She had lost to one of the more popular girls at the school.
Her step father and mother had watched as the kids gave their speeches. Melia’s step father said she delivered the best speech and – unlike the other kids – barely used her notecards.
As we rode BART home, Melia was deeply disappointed and at times almost inconsolable. At first, I didn’t know what to say.
So I spoke from heart. I told her that it did not matter whether she won or lost, that I was so proud that she ran and even more so that she spoke so eloquently in front of over 200 kids and teachers.
But it did not dampen her sadness much.
I then told her about my new philosophy that I was playing with – if something is not going my way, then I make a point to do something different that I may have otherwise done. That could be something as simple as taking a new route to work, choosing something different, or going against my instinct.
I asked her “what if you had won… what would your responsibilities be?” She listed a bunch of things. I asked her how busy she would have been. She said that she would have been very busy for the rest for the school year, with almost no extra time to do anything else. I then asked her, what could you now focus on that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to if you were School Secretary. She took some time to think about it and after about 10 minutes, she said “I want to be Ariel” in the school’s upcoming production of the Little Mermaid.
That was an exciting vision for both of us. Mind you, Melia had only been in one school play previously – Into the Woods -and to her chagrin, she was stuck with the role “Forest Animal #2.”
I asked her to think about what it would take to get Ariel in the upcoming production. She decided that she would learn Ariel’s songs ahead of time. Good thing for her, she’s got a nice singing voice. Over the next two weeks, Melia practiced Ariel’s two main songs, over and over and over again. She auditioned the following week.
When I picked Melia up from school after the audition, she was bubbling over. She had been one of four kids called back for the Ariel and Ursula roles. I was hopeful. And the next day, her Mom told me that Melia got the leading role – Ariel! Every cell in my body lit up as if I had got the role!
Six weeks later, I remember my eyes watering as I watched Melia on stage, singing Part of My World.
Melia went on to have lead roles in major productions the next two summers. First, she was the only middle schooler among high schoolers to get a God/Goddess role in One Upon an Island. And then the following summer, she got a chance to redeem herself as Little Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods. Once again, my eyes welled up as I watched her prance across the stage, in a red cape, singing I Know Things Now.
BALANCE Youth Council
Around the time Melia was Forest Animal #2, I co-founded BALANCE Edutainment, an EdTech firm producing nutritious children’s entertainment that supports healthy social and emotional development. Our flagship is Pacha’s Pajamas. When Pacha goes to sleep, the plants and animals on her pajamas guide her on a dream adventure to learn more about herself and the world. In many ways, the shaping of Pacha was informed by my experience parenting Melia. Melia was a model for Pacha’s visual appearance as well as for Pacha’s personality. She has done numerous voiceovers for the animated Pacha.
Balance Edutainment is building a Youth Leadership Council. The BALANCE Youth Council is charged with helping define the creative container for our stories and marketing, as well as to curate the engagement experience in Pacha’s world to ensure that the brand remains timely and magnetic to young people.
I am proud to say that Melia has agreed to be a founding member of the BALANCE Youth Council.
When she is not doing voiceovers, Melia is Snapchatting with friends, flying on the cheer squad at her Middle School, or playing with her little brother. While she was really into into theater, she is now building her skills on TeenageMemoriesTV, the Youtube show she does with two of her girlfriends. Melia enjoys pizza, shooting with a Canon, watermelon slushes, British chocolates, and young adult fiction.
Animated Book… What’s That?
Recently Melia anchored our new animated and live action short Animated Book… What’s That?
Our Animated Book will be published on April 5th. But we still need to finish the augmented reality app that brings it to life.
We’re doing a super short IndieGoGo campaign (only 5-days total) so that we can finish the app. We only have 4 days left.
Please check out Melia’s fun one minute video for the campaign. I invite you to become a backer and/or share the good news!
By Dave Room aka Melia’s Papa