Ivins’ ‘Dedicated Young Artist’ wins 1st place for talent in Utah competition and joins business prodigy – St George News
ST. GEORGE- Hearing music at the age of one touched Seilala Tofu’s heart and inspired her to become a singer.
The Polynesian girl, now 8, said she was proud of her heritage and the support given to her by her family and community.
“I love my family because they always watch over me and always support me,” she said. “Why I started singing is because when I first heard music I thought it was so beautiful that when I started growing up I wanted to be a singer .”
Seilala said she loves musical theater and takes singing lessons every week. She currently attends Vista Performing Arts School and has been part of performance groups throughout her life, such as Encore Performing Arts Group and the Polynesian dance group Te Fano O Te Ra in St. George.
Seilala recently won first place in the talent division of the All-American Girl Utah Pageant held at Hurricane. She reflected on this and other aspects of her life in May, which was Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Seilala’s gifts also landed her a position in the Utah Performing Arts Conservatory’s Prodigy Company. The group will tour during the school year across the country and open up more opportunities for her to engage in musical theater, dance, and vocal practice.
“Sometimes I get nervous on stage, but sometimes it’s not that scary,” she said. “Sometimes it can be so exciting for me because I love being on stage.”
During summer vacation, Seilala said she enjoys talking to her friends on the phone, going to the movies, spending time with her family and singing.
When she grows up, Seilala said she wants to be a singer and actress and have fun.
“She’s a dedicated young artist,” said Melanie Tofu, Seilala’s mother. “We’re so proud of how far we’ve come at such a young age. She knew what she wanted to do in life and so we went with it.
Her family of eight moved from Santa Anna, California to Ivins, Utah five years ago. They wanted to be a more affordable and adventurous place for kids. They have six children, three boys and three girls; Sebastian, Juniro, 13, Syrus, 12, Sagan, 10, Seilala, 8, Sophia, 7, and Silverina, 6.
“We teach all of our children the importance of having God first in our lives and maintaining their grades in order to participate in sports and music,” Melanie Tofu said.
The children are part of a Polynesian dance group called Te Fano O Te Ra taught by their “Auntie Malia”, who has been teaching them since they were very young.
Seilala started dancing when she was 4 years old and her mother said she would sing from morning till night, prompting them to enroll her in lessons to hone her skills. For the past two years, she has been taking singing lessons once a week with Ami Kawailani Gent.
“Teaching the kids about their culture was also a big thing for us,” Seilala’s mother said. “We wanted to make sure they knew where they came from, that they knew their roots.”
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