Zoe D’Andrea’s career began at the age of six when she sang “Happy Birthday” to audition for a show at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre. Now a senior at Santa Monica High School, D’Andrea is in contention to become a finalist in acting at The Music Center’s Spotlight Program. She was also chosen to be a semifinalist in both acting and non-classical voice.

D’Andrea first learned about Spotlight when she submitted materials to apply for a YoungArts award in theatre (which she later received). A notice about the Spotlight competition caught her eye, so D’Andrea did more research about the opportunity and promptly decided to apply.

D’Andrea sent in two video performances (one for acting and one for non-classical voice) in October. Months later, D’Andrea was invited to audition a second time in person. D’Andrea made it through to the third round of auditions, making her one of 17 acting semifinalists and 16 semifinalists in non-classical voice.

Spotlight offers semifinalists master classes with professional artists who help competitors hone and refine their skills.

“The whole Spotlight competition just feels like a warm hug. Everybody there is so kind and is just there to help the artists,” said D’Andrea.

On April 14, D’Andrea will compete in a final audition to become a finalist in acting. D’Andrea completed her final audition for non-classical voice on March 24.

The two finalists in each discipline selected from this audition will perform in the Spotlight Grand Finale at Disney Concert Hall on June 5. Tickets to attend the performance become available on April 26.

A typical day for D’Andrea consists of school until 3:16 p.m., homework, a singing or piano lesson at home, and then rehearsal from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre. She also serves as the Musical Director for the theatre’s production of “Curious George,” so in recent weeks she has been running music rehearsals from 4:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

D’Andrea estimates that she has performed in over 30 shows at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre. She recently starred in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in the role of Millie and as Fiona in “Shrek.” D’Andrea considers Anne Gesling, the director of many of these productions, her mentor.

D’Andrea is currently playing Beth in “Little Women.” The production opened on March 17 and will run through April 14. “My favorite type of thing to perform is something that has a really impactful story which can change someone’s perspective on something. I want to be able to tell stories and change the world.”

When asked whether she saw a career for herself in performing, D’Andrea’s response was immediate: “Oh, definitely!”

“That’s what I feel like I was meant to do. I need to do it because I have stories–other people’s stories–that I need to tell.”