Xavier Paul (Class of 2018) chasing his Performing Arts dreams
Finding out he had been accepted into the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts earlier this year, was a moment Xavier Paul from the Class of 2018 will never forget. The talented, young performer had a life-long dream of living in the United States and pursuing a career in the performing arts.
“It was euphoric. I was with my grandma at the time I found out and we both instantly burst into tears. The pure joy and excitement that came from that moment was like no other. I had been waiting for a few months to see what the outcome of my audition would be and to be offered a place was beyond my expectations,” describes Xavier.
Growing up, Xavier clearly remembers his love of singing and performing. At the age of two, he would watch and sing along to “The Phantom of the Opera” which became one of his favourite musicals which he still enjoys to this day. One of his very first memories relating to his love of performing was picking up the Sing Star microphone for the first time.
“My mum would encourage me to use my voice. I have had a love for performing and being on various stages since I was little,” he explains.
That same love of performing was further developed and nurtured during his time at Dilworth, where he grew his talents and considered pursuing it as a career.
“Dilworth played a huge role in getting me to where I am today. Under the expertise of the Performing Arts Manager and Director of Vocal Studies Claire Caldwell, I developed my talents and got to be a part of the premier choir Fortissimo which made it to the National Finale every year during my time in high school (2015-2018).”
Xavier is particularly grateful for the resources that Dilworth pours into its students and the different opportunities provided for them.
“Claire saw my vocal potential which gave me access to itinerant vocal coaching lessons with Josh Clark (Classical, Jazz) and Lisa Lorell (Musical Theatre). I was also able to sit musical theatre exams through Trinity School of London which costs a substantial amount of money. Without Dilworth, my family would not have been able to provide me with all the opportunities that have helped me accomplish what I have today,” said Xavier.
During his time at Dilworth, Xavier also played his first lead role in a staged production of Smike in 2013 and the was named as one of two kaitataki tane for the Kapa Haka roopu when he was in Year 13.
After completing his journey at Dilworth, Xavier moved to Christchurch to study a Bachelor of Performing Arts which was one of the most challenging experiences of his Performing Arts journey so far.
“I found myself getting homesick which is something I never thought I would struggle with given the boarding environment I experienced at Dilworth. But I guess at times I just missed my family and it was different not being able to see them whenever I felt I needed to. I remember back to one moment during our rehearsals for our second-year musical “On the Town”. I felt homesick as we had just returned to university from the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, so it was rough to begin with,” he shares.
What helped Xavier get through this time was staying focused on his goals and surrounding himself with good friends.
“I helped myself bounce back from this by making sure I was around people who were comfortable and friendly with me. This helped me stay motivated and focused on my goals. I also really pushed myself while studying because I was doing this all for a purpose – to make my aspirations a reality,” said Xavier.
Xavier Paul (middle) in one of his on-stage roles.
It's this same focus that Xavier encourages the young men currently at Dilworth to have when it comes to their goals and aspirations.
“To my brothers at Dilworth, no matter what your circumstances are or the setbacks you face, never settle for less. Always strive to be your best, take every opportunity that comes your way and stay focused on your goals. Practice. Practice. Practice. Nurture and fine tune all your talents. In this industry, it’s all about skill and how hard you work. You can be talented, however you will be noticed and recognised for the effort and work you put in,” he advises.
As for his future, Xavier hopes to one day be on Broadway or on the big screen.
“At this time in my life, I am chasing my dreams. As a young Māori man, I am also keen to be able to showcase my culture and experiences of growing up in Aotearoa. I want to be able to weave this into my storytelling through what I have and continue to learn.”
Studying in New York comes at a significant cost. If you would like to help Xavier with the cost of studying overseas, please visit his Givealittle where you can donate directly to his study-related costs: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/please-help-xavier-get-to-the-new-york-stage