“We are going to go beyond today. Yes or Yes?” -Luis Salgado.
This was the language I heard every morning during my time as a camper of the D2GB Summer Arts program. Our mornings would begin with our pep talks with Luis Salgado, learning different art disciplines from talented professionals, and at the end of the day, sharing what we have learned throughout our intense classes with other campers. No matter your age, what color your camp shirt was, or what country you came from, once you were in the D2GB Summer Arts camp, you became a part of a family that would last a lifetime.
It’s crazy how a five day camp has allowed me to grow and develop on a personal level. But, in this short amount of time, I have learned so much about myself as an artist, as a professional, as a proud Latina, but most importantly, as a human being. During the times where we can’t be performing together in person, it is now where we use our creativity to come together as one.
Allow me to introduce myself. Hi, my name is Nia Rainer. I’m a junior at High Point University studying International Business with a minor in Spanish. I am also an 2016 alumna of the Dare to Go Beyond Children’s Performing Arts Camp at R.Evolución Latina, I’m twenty years old, and I am an author.
Yes! You read that correctly. I am a twenty year old author! For the past 5 months, I’ve been working on a book. The incredible part is that I’ve found a publisher, New Degree Press, and they have officially approved my manuscript for publication, launching in April 2021. I am the author of Rise. I wrote this book because I wanted to show people the importance of believing in yourself, regardless of what the world may tell you. In a world where there is always a standard to live by, it is important that you stay true to who you are and appreciate the experiences, stories, and memories that make you the best person that you can be.
I am a native New Yorker, or NuyoRican. I am inspired by those in NYC, as the melting pot of people, experiences, and stories to tell amazes me until this day. But, I will say that I was not always proud of who I was. Even though I am coming from a very diverse city, I still felt isolated because of how most neighborhoods in New York City are segregated. Many white people in Howard Beach, but so many communities of color in Bushwick and Ridgewood, for example. Yet, I somehow grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and was one of the only Puerto Ricans on my block. I questioned why there were few people that looked like me in my block or at school, and I questioned who I was… A lot.
It wasn’t until I had the chance to attend D2GB where I saw people that looked like me that loved to sing, dance, and act. I enjoyed performing growing up, and so I was excited to get involved in the classes that allowed me to grow as a performer. Yet, I got a lot more than that from the time I was at D2GB. Rather, I learned a lot about myself, and some of the most important lessons that I have applied to my own life.
I had access to pioneers in the Entertainment Industry. Singers, Dancers, Actors, Broadway Professionals, and even musicians. D2GB allowed me to take classes with all of these amazing people, and as I reflect on my experience, I took a lesson from each class I was in. Each teacher taught me something different about their specific craft, but I learned the importance of being disciplined. My teachers were not only passionate about the arts, but they worked tirelessly to get to where they are today. Their demeanor stuck with me, because everyone I learned from during this time were people that were serious about their craft. Having mentors such as Luis, who literally did not allow us to say “No” during our time at camp, allowed me to reflect on how I should grow in my own life. Being able to say “No” to myself when I want to give up, and how I can use this energy to go inspire others.
I also had the opportunity to learn from people that looked like me. This can often get overlooked, but representation matters. Being at D2GB made me believe that I am able to dare to go beyond by going after my own dreams. Broadway professionals coming from Musicals such as “In the Heights”, “Motown”, “On Your Feet”, and more, allowed me to take a deep reflection on how I saw myself. I realized that just because I have not had the opportunity to learn about who I am culturally, does not mean that I can’t learn now. D2GB has allowed me to take these risks, and five months ago, I made the decision to take my own risk and write a book.
My book, Rise, is about achieving success despite the challenges we face as people. I have learned lifelong lessons from D2GB such as the importance of mentorship and representation. These lessons are important to me, and these experiences have allowed me to perform well at D2GB and when writing my book.
I want to share this message with the world. In addition to writing about the power of mentorship and representation, I also write about things that get in our way when we are trying to become our best selves. For example, in one of my chapters, I write about the Imposter Syndrome, and how that gets in the way of the artist’s full potential. The mentality of feeling like a “fraud”, can impact how artists represent themselves when going to auditions, as well as how to grow overall. Learning about how our minds get in the way of our own opportunities is not easy to hear, but it is something we all need to learn about so we prevent ourselves from declining opportunities in the near future.
These are only some of the lessons I have learned from being a part of the R.Evolución Latina family. I want to share everything that I have learned with you in my book during the Holidays. Right now, I am hosting a pre-sale campaign for my book and I invite you to grab a copy for you or a loved one today. As a first-time author, my publisher requires that I have people interested in my book in order for me to have a successful first book. Being a part of a family at R.Evolución Latina that has inspired me to dare to go beyond in my own life, and I want to share how you can dare to go beyond in your life with the lessons I have learned.
There is still one requirement from my publisher before we can move forward: I need to sell 150 copies of my book in the next 5 days to show I can build momentum.
I know this book can have an impact on others, just as R.Evolución Latina has impacted me. When you pre-order, your name will be mentioned in the acknowledgements section, you will receive an autographed copy of my book, and you will be invited to join my author community, where you will get a sneak peak at my final cover, read excerpts, and interact with others who are excited about the book as much as I am.
I’d appreciate it if you could pre-order a copy and share this campaign with others. Simply go to this link to pre-order below:
Thank you R.Evolución Latina, for inspiring me to dare to go beyond.
By: Nia Rainer