The Dallas Morning News
Teen lands role on Apple TV
Amanda Reid, 18, is a product of the NTPA Academy Conservatory
PLANO — When Amanda Reid takes the stage to sing, her voice soars through the halls of Willow Bend Center of the Arts, where she has been polished into a star so bright the teen’s friends jokingly liken her to 32-time Grammy winner Beyoncé.
Reid, who released a single called “More Than You” on streaming services last year, said she’s been singing since she could speak.
Now, the 18-year-old — who lives in Mckinney but commutes to Plano, where she is a standout at at the North Texas Performing Arts Academy Conservatory — has been booked for a role as a series regular on an undisclosed upcoming Apple TV show.
“Leaving here for three months, it was hard,” said Reid, who worked on the show last summer. “This was kind of all I knew before, but they definitely prepared me to be able to go out into that world — the real world — and just experience that.”
At the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta this past January, Reid was one of three recipients selected out of around 6,000 kids from troupes across the world to receive an award for outstanding performer by an individual.
Reid only started taking her performing career seriously in eighth grade, when she applied and auditioned for the inaugural class at the NTPA Academy, which accepts fewer than 100 students annually.
Derived from Plano Children’s Theatre, which was founded by Sarah Egleston Akers in 1991, the NTPA is a nonprofit that provides youths ages 5-18 in Collin, Dallas and Tarrant counties with tools to develop performing arts and life skills. The organization, created in 2015, put on around 160 productions last year and offers additional opportunities for kids with disabilities, children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and adults, according to CEO Darrell Rodenbaugh.
The NTPA, which had 11,000 youth enrollees last year and says it is the biggest youth theater in the country, is made up of five troupes in Dallas, Fairview, Frisco, Plano and Southlake. The headquarters and academy are inside The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano. The academy opened in 2018 and offers needs-based scholarships. Children don’t have to be in the academy to participate in productions.
“We have kids from our program that have been on Broadway. They’re in touring shows, TV, film, touring boats,” Rodenbaugh said. “We really view our role as creating better citizens, and we really focus on that concept of developing characters.”
In 2014, Reid’s family moved to North Texas from northern Virginia in search of a lower cost of living and a strong landscape for youth sports and activities. The singer competed in gymnastics from ages 3-13, and her siblings played soccer.
She thought she’d be a college gymnast, but her heart was no longer in the sport.
Reid decided to end her gymnastics career and found herself searching for another passion.
“I was like, ‘Mom, can you just sign me up for a movie or something?’ ” Reid said.
Reid and her mother, Tara Reid, the child of a trumpeter and a professional opera singer, found out about the NTPA from a soccer mom who worked as a choreographer at the program. So Reid signed up to audition and has been training and performing in shows there ever since.
While Reid entered the academy with raw singing talent and dance skills from her gymnastics career, she still had to nurture her abilities, she said. That meant taking specialized acting classes and learning how to utilize her voice in different ways.
Most recently, she starred in a production of Hairspray as Seaweed, the Black male lead. Reid said she was confused when she saw that casting choice, but she eventually embraced the challenge of the role.
“People actually thought I was a guy, so I guess I did my job,” Reid said. “There were definitely times where I didn’t want to do it anymore. … I just didn’t feel like I could make it believable.”
Despite her success, Reid said she often felt she was behind because she started theater later in life while her peers had been around since they were toddlers.
She said people would tell her she could sing but couldn’t act.
“The TV show had nothing to do with singing,” Tara Reid said. “The growth that happened for her mentally was huge.”
Last youth role
Next up for Reid is performing the lead role in Aida, a musical by Elton John and Tim Rice that follows a love triangle between enslaved princess Aida, Egyptian princess Amneris and Egyptian soldier Radames. She will debut as Aida on Saturday at the Rodenbaugh Theatre in Willow Bend Center of the Arts.
Reid said she’s waited years to perform what is her dream role in her dream show. That time has finally come. It will be her last show of her youth theater career.
Rodenbaugh said the teen is so solid that she could pursue a collegiate performing arts program or go straight to the industry. Mom said Reid is considering all options.
Regardless of what she chooses, those close to Reid know that people will recognize her talent. One day, she was late to an event and a peer joked with her about it in a complimentary way.
“He was like ‘Even Beyoncé gets stuck in traffic,’ ” Reid said.