Local teen wins international speech arts award

She's a different kind of triple threat.

She plays piano, she sings and she talks really well, too.

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Grace Li is 14 years old and just returned from an international speech arts competition at Carnegie Hall. She won and also was named the most promising performer in the intermediate category.

Grace said what sparked her interest in speech arts was her two older sisters, Katherine and Nancy. Both sisters are currently attending university.

Grace said she saw her sisters competing and thought she should try it, too.

Grace chose to do a scene at the Carnegie Hall competition where she was in the dramatic performance intermediate category at the Magnum Opus International Speech and Drama competition held in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York, that took place Nov. 30. Other categories included poetry and prose and youth were placed in junior, intermediate and senior categories depending on their age.

Grace chose to perform a monologue called Why I Want To Be Your Junior Asian Miss.

"So basically I am in a beauty pageant for Asian girls and I'm not the best at answering the questions even though I might have the looks," Grace explained. "It was meant to be funny and in the end it just had a nice message about it not really being about how smart you are, it's about if you try."

Debbie McGladdery is Grace's speech arts teacher and has been teaching the Li family for the last 14 years.

To prepare for a competition at an international level Grace looks at a piece with a unique perspective.

"I always go over the material with Mrs. McGladdery and she gives me things to work on and then I read it over and see what parts I think I can change and make different than what people would usually do."

Grace said when she got to perform at Carnegie Hall it was really fun and she wore a red evening gown as part of the look she wanted for her beauty pageant contestant monologue.

"I think a lot of emotion goes into it and naturalness," Grace said about a successful speech arts piece. "I was really nervous before going on stage but I didn't show that in my performance - I don't think."

Grace, who is a D.P. Todd secondary school student, is also an accomplished singer under teacher Robin Norman's instruction and Grace also excels in piano under teacher Laurie Elder's instruction.

It all starts with success at the local festivals and Grace had the opportunity to choose which of three disciplines, speech arts, singing and piano in which to continue to move up to the provincial level. She could only pick one.

Grace practices and competes in all three disciplines and she chose to continue pursuing excellence in speech arts this year.

Grace's parents are very supportive of all their daughters' endeavours as demonstrated by the many medals and awards proudly displayed in the family home.

Despite being busy with all her extra curricular activities Grace still finds time to hang out with friends and she also plays volleyball.

Grace said she loves singing, piano and speech arts and can't pick a favourite between them.

"I love them all," she said.

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