Dylan Jenét has been a featured singer at the Democratic National Convention and President Obama’s second inauguration, worked with esteemed musician and talent coach Ray Chew, and is doing projects with the legendary Stevie Wonder. She’s also 15 years old. This gifted young performer is going places, but she’s refreshingly humble and down-to-earth about her remarkable career and she still feels very much at home with her family in Sag Harbor.
Jenét discovered her love (and talent) of singing when she was five years old. “It was summertime and I didn’t know anybody, so I started doing local plays to meet other kids,” she says. After being noticed in a local play by the late “Miss Sybil” Christopher (as Jenét affectionately calls her), co-founder of the Bay Street Theatre, Jenét got her first professional role in the theatre’s production of Ahrens and Flaherty’s Once On This Island, and has been “working ever since.”
Among Jenét’s earliest accomplishments was getting the role of Young Nala in The Lion King on Broadway. The producers wanted to cast her on the spot but had to wait until she was the right height. “I went in one day and they measured me and were like, ‘Okay! You’re in!’” Jenét played Young Nala for seven months.
Broadway was just the start for Jenét, who won the Apollo Theater’s 2006 “Star of Tomorrow” award. The musical director for the show, Ray Chew (also the vocal coach for American Idol), soon became her mentor, which led to her meeting the legendary Stevie Wonder. While anyone would likely be star-struck by the musical icon, Jenét just smiled and shrugged. “It’s pretty cool!” she sighed, before letting out a little giggle.
Meeting Wonder proved to be a major career step for Jenét. The young performer is hard at work on multiple projects with Wonder producing and she couldn’t be happier. They even share a similar sense of humor. “He’s really funny! We get along really well and we’ll be working and he’ll just go [in a funny, cartoony southern accent], ‘Okay Dylan, so um, just go do what you do!’” Jenét laughs, admitting that she too loves to break into funny voices with friends and family.
Jenét sang with Wonder at his annual House of Toys benefit. and she believes in and supports charities and causes that are important to her, including Alzheimer’s and cancer research, having lost grandparents to both diseases. She also supports Superstorm Sandy relief and Haiti earthquake relief.
With her already-dazzling list of achievements, it would be fair to assume that Jenét would have little time for a social life. While she is completing high school online, she maintains a tight circle of friends. “I don’t like to deal with drama…kids can be mean. It’s better for me to be around my friends, and I get to see them all the time.” She is very close with her family, too. “My family supports me so much,” Jenét gushes, noting that her family is ready to move to California for her career when the time comes. And how about college?
“I do want to go to college! People usually think that since I’m a singer I’d want to go for music or something, but I actually want to go to college for fashion. That’s always been my dream. I’ve always wanted to go to FIT,” she exclaims, stating that she even designs some of her own clothes and jewelry.
So, what advice does Jenét have for other young people looking to make it big in show biz? “If you love it and you believe in it, then you can achieve it. Keep practicing and working on your craft and you’ll get there. I really believe that.” It’s hard to think of a better role model for young girls (or guys!) who have a dream and aren’t afraid to go after it with everything they’ve got.
For more on Dylan Jenét and to listen to some of her music, check out dylanJenetrain.com, twitter.com/DylanJenét and reverbnation.com/dylanJenetcollins.