In Starlight’s most recent Raise Our Voices performance, professional performer and 2011 Blue Star Awards Rising Star Scholarship recipient Talya Groves takes the stage for a powerful rendition of “Freedom” by Beyoncé. The empowering song comes from Beyoncé’s Lemonade album, which Talya fondly refers to as a love letter to black people—specifically, black women. Talya acknowledges the singer’s message may make some fans uncomfortable, but wants people to know the message is important for everyone to hear.
“Until systemic racism is completely dismantled, we’re ALL losing out in some way,” Talya said. “The white people in today’s world who don’t think it’s their problem, refuse to acknowledge racism, and would rather preserve their privilege are preventing everyone—not just black people—from the ultimate love and connection humanity has to offer.”
Talya connects with others and expresses herself through music and dance. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, she found herself out in the world every day—constantly auditioning and being social with friends and family. She’s learned more about her introverted side in the past few months, and mentions that the circumstances have shown her inner bravery.
“I had the guts to go into an extremely vulnerable career and have the guts to stick with it now,” Talya said. She feels lucky she’s also had the opportunity to perform virtually in a variety of live streams and video projects. She appears in Starlight’s virtual fundraiser on Saturday, October 10.
An Evening With Starlight isn’t the first time Talya has performed on Starlight’s stage, however. She was first cast in Annie at age 10. It was her first experience with professional theatre, and she later went on to perform in The Wizard of Oz. Talya was an avid participant in Starlight’s Blue Star Awards in high school, winning the 2011 Rising Star Scholarship, and she’s returned to the stage as a guest presenter a number of times.
Talya attended Pace University in New York City and has since performed on Broadway in three musicals—Motown: The Musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Mean Girls. Now, she’s taking things one day at a time and picking up gigs whenever possible. She suggests that other young performers do the same.
“Refrain from having a back-up plan. You must be all-in,” Talya said. “There are too many talented, driven people out there who want this and want it hard. It’s difficult, and if you cushion yourself with a fallback plan, then you’ll end up relying on it.”
Talya dreams to be able to successfully sustain herself—financially and spiritually—by doing what she loves with the people she loves. Fame isn’t the goal, but she instead wants to bring people joy in the way that is natural to her.
“Life is short and connection is the point,” Talya said. “I am a really open book, perhaps even an over-sharer—but in being that way, I feel that part of my purpose in this world is to be a really strong mirror for others (be it positive or negative).”
We think it’s very positive, Talya, and can’t wait to see the joy your future holds!