No matter what it takes, Alex Hernandez is going to make it on Broadway.
“I don’t even want the lead,” the 18-year-old said. “I just want to be on Broadway. That would be the most amazing thing ever.”
Hernandez has worked hard to make his dream come true. After months of waiting, endless rehearsals and three auditions, he finally earned admittance into one of the top performing arts colleges in the nation: The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
“It’s the Broadway school in New York. That’s what they call it,” Hernandez said.
The school is known for its notable alumni, including “Modern Family” actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and “Empire” actor Trai Byers, as well as numerous Broadway actors and actresses. A casting crew sent from the school gave him the news Sept. 13.
“They told me I was in,” Hernandez said. “I cried on the spot. I started crying so bad. I could not believe it. I was like, ‘Wow, why is this happening?’” Hernandez said.
The 2015 West Hall High School graduate will join their ranks either in January for a six-month stint or in the fall 2016 for a two-year program. Funding his theater education will be a major factor in his decision of when to start.
“I want to be more prepared moneywise,” Hernandez said. “It’s a really expensive school to go to.”
According to its website, AMDA.edu, the school costs $40,000 per year in tuition and housing. But Hernandez said it does not include living expenses, which he hasn’t calculated yet.
He said he wants to be frugal and wait for next semester to save up, but he hasn’t made a final decision yet.
However, he knows he will study musical theater. The school offers four programs, including acting, performing arts, musical theater and dancing.
“I auditioned for the musical theater program because I was so involved in it back here just a few months ago,” Hernandez said.
Once he decides on his enrollment date, Hernandez will head to New York City. It will not be his first time there, but he’s still a little nervous to be on his own. Hernandez grew up with four siblings in Gainesville.
“My family isn’t going to be over there,” he said. “I’m excited because I get to do something that not everybody gets to do.”
He is also anxious about leaving home and his single mother.
“I’m the oldest (at home) now,” Hernandez said. “She doesn’t want to let me go. But, she’s also happy because when she came to the U.S. she never thought one of her kids would be going to a school that’s famous for theater.”
While his theater career may be new, Hernandez has been singing for the past 10 years with his church. His mother said as a toddler, her son sang songs from the TV shows he watched.
His love for belting out tunes carried through his teen years.
“I always had a passion for singing,” Hernandez said.
His dedication to singing then evolved into acting when he auditioned for the theater program during his sophomore year at West Hall. He said he tried out because he needed the extracurriculars for the International Baccalaureate program, which requires students to complete 100 hours of work in three areas of focus: creativity, action and service.
“One of my friends told me she was doing musical theater,” Hernandez said. “So I auditioned ... I didn’t know if I was going to make it.”
But he did and grew to love theater.
“I went up to the bulletin board and my name was there,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know what stage left was. I didn’t know what stage right was.”
Along the way he met Ariel Gravely and Pandora Crumpton during rehearsals for “Into the Woods.” Both girls are fans of Hernandez.
“He’s really just goofy,” said Gravely, who is auditioning for the same theater school in November. “He’s just a goofball.”
But that humor isn’t just reserved for the stage.
“He’s kind of the same on and off stage,” Crumpton said. “He’s hilarious and he’s so fun to be around. He’s a really loyal friend.”
Hernandez is almost loyal to a fault.
“He’s always worried about everyone, and he wants to make sure everyone is OK,” Gravely said. “But at the same time, he’s so worried about everyone, he forgets to focus on himself.”
During his time with the high school theater troupe, Hernandez learned about a Thespian Conference and attended it for two years. Georgia high schools send theater students to the three-day conference (aka ThesCon), which offers workshops for dancing and acting.
“ThesCon was huge for me,” Hernandez said, noting the second year changed his life. “It was pretty amazing.”
In his senior year, Hernandez’s troupe performed “Into the Woods,” which sold out.
“From there, I started really enjoying theater,” said Hernandez, who portrayed the Baker in the musical.
Therefore, he searched for performing arts colleges after graduating in May. He considered the Gainesville Theatre Alliance, which is a collaboration among the University of North Georgia, Brenau University, theater professionals and the Northeast Georgia community. However, he grew up watching those performances.
“GTA is like five minutes from home,” Hernandez said. “I couldn’t do that.”
That’s when fate stepped in and AMDA sent him a brochure.
“They contacted me by mail,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know about it until they contacted me.”
He decided to apply for plenty of reasons, but one stood out.
“Everybody there wants to do the same thing you’re doing,” Hernandez said. “That’s what really caught my attention. It’s all about performing,” Hernandez said. “It’s all about dancing. It’s all about singing. It’s all about acting.”
Now that he has achieved getting into his dream college, he plans to complete his dream.
“Broadway is on my bucket list. Broadway is my bucket list,” Hernandez said.