My name is Zakiya DeRoche and I’m 16 years old. I was born in Brooklyn, and I’m also from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. My family background is a mix of West Indian and Spanish mixed together. I’m going to be a junior at LaGuardia High School and I got into it for singing. The kids at LaGuardia are friendly people! People think of our school like its High School Musical, as if there’s always jumping on the walls and dancing in the air. It’s kind of true because all you see are dance majors dancing around the hallways and singers always singing random tunes. My school is pretty fun actually. I have a lot of fun. The academic part I could probably do without, but what are you going to do, it’s school.
I want to go on to major in music, like in musical theater. When I was little I used to do dance and I did cheerleading. I have this singing thing down pat I think, but I’d like to get more of the feel of Broadway, and studying musical theater would probably help me a lot. I want to get out of the state for college. Everyone says that if you stay in your homeland for too long, you never get to experience anything else. You see all these things on TV like people traveling the world, and girls who come from Texas who then go to New York to become a big star…and it happens! I want to do the same thing, and be able to leave my hometown and go somewhere and make a difference, or make my dreams come true, or make it big somewhere else outside of where I’m from.
I feel like I am a real New Yorker. I eat my hot dogs, I take my train-fare, I go to the park. I think being a New Yorker has its advantages and disadvantages. As a New Yorker, you know your way around the city. You know what trains to get on and what trains not to get on. But the disadvantage is that if you’ve been in this place for a long time, you start doing everything the same way as other people. If you go out and do your thing the way you do it, then people look at you different because they’re like, “What is she doing? She’s not from here.”
I started with Children’s Aid when I was three, about thirteen years ago. I’ve been with this chorus and with my instructor Kelly for five years. But I plan to stay here until I’m ready to go to college because it’s one of the things I love doing the most. I couldn’t imagine doing this any other way or with any other bunch of girls. They’ve pushed me to do stuff that I never thought I would do, like breaking outside of my shell, singing by myself, and learning how to audition.
I am really excited about being in The Tempest and being a part of the ensemble. When you’re in the ensemble, it’s like you get to show who you are on stage, but a bunch of other people are doing it with you. It’s like one big movement, like a flash mob. I love flash mobs! As an ensemble, I feel like we’re a flash mob in the back, just random people doing things who just break out into song. So, I’m actually really excited to be a part of this show. It’s a big step for me. I’ve told my family and they’re like, “Oh my God, my daughter’s going to be in this play!” Once you tell your mom, she goes and tells your aunt; it’s a whole chain reaction, the whole family tree. Ten minutes later you’re getting calls from aunts you’ve never talked to in your life: “Oh my gosh, you’re going to be a part of The Tempest! Congratulations!”