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Local actor wins at arts championship
While Olympians are earning medals for swimming and running, one Yuma man is cherishing medals he won for acting and rapping.
Local actor Kenn "Kenjo" LaChapelle won a fistful of medals not long ago during the World Championship of Performing Arts. The international competition, hosted by popular television host Bob Eubanks, was held in Los Angeles.
LaChapelle brought home gold and silver medals, along with an even deeper conviction that he belongs on the stage and in front of cameras.
"That competition was so much fun! I just wish it could have lasted longer. There were people there from Singapore, the Philippines, Trinidad - you name it - plus all 50 states."
The 12th annual event drew competitors from 40 countries, to be exact, according to its Web site. A whopping 75,000 performers applied participate in the 2008 competition, which narrowed the field down to several hundred singers, dancers, actors and models.
LaChapelle competed in the categories of acting, modeling and rap.
"When I wasn't acting or supporting another actor, we were mingling with industry people who could put us in places," LaChapelle said. "I met a lot of agents and have a few things lined up, but nothing major. I'm just waiting to see what happens."
Lots of those entertainment industry folks had one question for LaChapelle: "Why do you live so far from Hollywood?"
"A lot of professionals kept saying 'If only you lived here,'" he said, pausing for a moment's thought. "I'm 100 percent sure there will come a point where I have to move L.A."
Back here in Yuma, the young performer works on computer systems for a local school district. He previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
But it's not just L.A. that's seen LaChapelle in action. He's shared his talents with this town as well. He has acted with Yuma Community Theater and has performed with several local dance studios during their major productions. As a rapper, LaChapelle has also sung locally.
"I've been acting for years, ever since I was in elementary school. I love to act. I love to rap. It's exciting and fun and it makes me feel really accomplished in something."
LaChapelle worked as an extra for the movie "Jarhead," which filmed in Yuma. The DVD version also includes a few words from him during an interview with extras.
He's been getting quite a few auditions since joining The Young Agency in Phoenix. "They told me to audition. I did and they loved me," he said.
He's done about five auditions - most in L.A. - since last November.
LaChapelle auditioned for the TV show "The Moment of Truth," a reality show built around people being forced to face the lie detector.
"They really dig and pry. 'Do you beat your wife?' I just didn't have any dirt. They liked my personality, but they aren't going to pay you thousands of dollars for not having anything to reveal."
He also auditioned for "Casting Call," a TV show a lot like "American Idol." The judges included actor Joe Piscopo and actress Morgan Fairchild.
"Morgan loved me, but Joe was on the fence," LaChapelle said, adding that he gave up waiting for a promised callback. "I never heard anything. Everything got dropped at the last minute. That's show business, though."
LaChapelle dreams of making it big as a performer, but he quickly points to a pair of feet firmly planted on the ground.
"The fame and money that come with success would be nice and I wouldn't turn it away, but that's not what drives me. I'm not after making a million-dollar movie. If they called and said, 'We have a role for you in a Jamie Foxx movie, but sorry, we can't pay you' I would say yes, I would take it."
After all, LaChapelle stressed, it's the chase of a dream that's best, especially when you are doing what you love.
"If I don't become a big name, then I'm going to strut and grind my wheels until I'm successful. If I never become a big name, then it's something I'll have to deal with and just move forward until I do. But knowing my personality ..."
Check out www.kenjosmovement.com on the Web to:
- See more photos of LaChapelle
- See his music videos
- Listen to his music
Darin Fenger can be reached at
email@example.com or 539-6860.