Harrison Lewis of Milton High School and Jessi Kirtley of Roswell High School will be traveling to New York City to compete in the 2019 Jimmy Awards on June 24. 

The students will leave for New York June 17, for a week of preparing before the awards. Lewis and Kirtley will have the opportunity to be coached in voice and acting by renowned Broadway performers.

Both students won Best Actor and Actress at the Georgia Shuler Hensley Awards in April. The program is a part of Atlanta's ArtsBridge Foundation and the National High School Musical Theater Awards and recognizes excellence in high school theater. 

"It was pretty crazy," Lewis said. "There were over 3,000 people in the audience and I've been watching the Shulers since I was little. It was pretty incredible performing."

Lewis has been performing for as long as he can remember, saying that in elementary school he played Horton in "Horton Hears a Who!" Lewis says that his favorite part about performing is being able to become someone completely different on stage. 

Kirtley has also been performing since she was a young child, saying one of her firsts memories of performing was playing one of the orphans in "Annie" when she was in first grade. 

"It started as just being a fun afterschool thing, and then as I started growing up it began more of a creative outlet for me," Kirtley said. 

In order to qualify for the Jimmy Awards, students must win their Regional Awards Program competition. The winners of Best Actor and Best Actress will then be invited to compete at the Jimmy Awards. This year, only 86 students nationwide will be competing in the Jimmy Awards.  

Tony Award winner Ben Platt ("Dear Evan Hanson"; "Pitch Perfect") will host the 11th annual Jimmy Awards, but the attention will be on the top actors and actresses. After much preparation, Lewis and Kirtley will be able to perform at the ceremony. 

"I'll go off by myself, usually somewhere quiet, to try to get into the character earlier," Lewis said. "Sometimes I'll listen to music that's emotional for the character."

Lewis will be attending North Western University where he will study musical theater. Kirtley is going into her senior year at Roswell High School. Both students plan to continue to pursue theater as a career. 

"One of my biggest dreams is to go on tour with a show," Kirtley said. "I love new musicals that are coming out recently, so I kind of want to jump onto a new project. I think that's a really cool process."

The Jimmy Awards can be accessed online at www.jimmyawards.com/live


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