Micaela Connery is only 23 and already winning top awards and walking red carpets - all for her amazing work in founding Unified Theatre. I got to chat with Micaela as she was gearing up for the Do Something Awards out in LA. These awards are the Oscars for young people committed to social change. The winner is announced on July 19th during a star-studded event that airs live on VH1. One of the five finalists, Micaela is both excited and anxious for the big night!
Oh and the winner is chosen by YOU. So...Click here to vote: Do Something VOTE
Kate: First off, congratulations on your Do Something nomination!! This is one of the highest honors for young people making a difference in our world. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Unified Theater?
Micaela: Thanks Kate. I am 23 (and a fellow Wahoo!) born in Providence, Rhode Island. I started Unified Theater when I was 15 at my high school in West Hartford, CT. We work with middle and high school students to help them develop theater groups in their school that are entirely student-produced and feature kids with and without disabilities from across their school’s population.
We also help other young people to begin "living by giving" by starting Unified Theater programs in their community. We’ve worked with 1500 young people so far – but we’re hoping to work with 40,000 in 325 schools by 2015.
Kate: Love it! And I love how you are helping others play a role in the impact by starting a program in their own community! So, what was your inspiration to start Unified Theatre?
Micaela: I started Unified Theater because of my cousin Kelsey. Kelsey is only a couple months younger than I am and we spent a ton of time together as we grew up. Even though Kelsey has developmental and physical disabilities, they haven’t defined her – Kelsey taught me to appreciate people for what they can do and meet them where they are if they need extra support.
Kate: You and I both know how important it is to get involved in the community and help others. Let me ask, why is Giving so important to you in your life?
Micaela: It might sound strange but – although I realize that I am giving back to the community – I think I’m really spoiled to be able to do Unified Theater. I love being able to work with new people, help students take action in their communities, and do something I’m so truly passionate about – it never gets boring.
Kate: And now you are a finalist for one of the highest GIVING awards for young adults, the Do Something award. Congratulations! How does it feel to be up for such an award?
Micaela: Yep, we're in the running for the Do Something Award right now - one of 5 under-25 led organizations that has won $10K and in the running to win $100K live on VH1 on July 19th (hosted by Glee's Jane Lynch – I LOVE Glee!). We're the only organization nominated that serves people with disabilities and the only arts focused. We’re hoping it will help people realize the value of student facilitated inclusion and arts accessibility.
Kate: Lastly, one of my favorite questions to ask is, ‘What is your Giving Dream?’ If money, time, and resources are no obstacle, what’s your dream for making the world a better place?
Micaela: My dream is to have Unified Theater be a program that is par for the course in middle and high schools – just like almost every school has a basketball team, a chorus, or a student council why shouldn’t they all have extracurricular programs that include kids with disabilities and is student-led.
Kate: And people can start helping you and Unified Theatre RIGHT NOW. It’s really easy to vote!
Micaela, thank you so much for your time and your GIVING…I can't wait to watch on the 19th.
Don't forget, you can watch the 2010 Do Something Awards on VH1 July 19!