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Aliyah Turner ’16 Accepted Into Top Acting Program


Aliyah Turner ’16 has come a long way since her first acting role – the baby elephant in Jungle Book.

An accomplished dancer and actor, Aliyah was one of only 18 applicants (from a pool of more than 1,000) accepted into the acting program at UCLA’s elite School of Theater, Film & Television. She begins her studies in September.

The interview/audition process was rigorous and included participation in an information session, the performance of two contrasting monologues (one classical and one contemporary), an interview in which applicants are asked to discuss their goals and aspirations for studying theater, and a movement audition where judges assess how applicants comport themselves in a group setting and how they respond to challenges.

Aliyah said the process was nerve-wracking. “Throughout the whole thing they are taking notes on you, observing you, and writing your number down … or not writing your number down,” she said.

Expanding Her Creative Repertoire

A competitive dancer since the age of three who has performed locally and nationally in several different styles of dance, Aliyah was chosen two summers ago, along with several other top performers from the Castro Valley Performing Arts program, to attend dance classes full-time at the famous Broadway Dance Center and Alvin Ailey Schools in New York City for a week.

Her creative repertoire expanded to acting when she got involved with the Neighborhood Youth Theater in Castro Valley about 10 years ago. She pursued drama O’Dowd, starring in several performances including Godspell, Hairspray and A Chorus Line. She credits Drama Director Dennis Kohles and drama teacher Trina Oliver – “MizzO” as she is affectionately called – with cultivating her passion for acting. “They are very professional and knowledgeable about acting and that really opened up my eyes to the possibility of pursuing it as a career,” she said.

MizzO was instrumental in helping Aliyah prepare for her UCLA audition, as well as the other auditions she had at Pepperdine University, Chapman University and Loyola Marymount University.

“MizzO came to me at the beginning of senior year and asked if I was interested in pursuing acting after high school. When I said ‘Of course,’ she said we needed to start working on monologues and training for the auditions and interviews. She was a big help,” Aliyah said.

Aliyah prepared “Waiting for Lefty” as her contemporary piece and a monologue from “As You Like It” for her classical piece. She performed the classical piece at the Ohlone College High School Theatre Festival in May, and ended up placing in the category. “That really boosted my confidence for the auditions,” she said.

For the past year, Aliyah has taken film and screen acting classes at Film Acting Bay Area (FABA) in Emeryville, where she has been provided several casting opportunities. She’s appeared in a short film, Through the Windowpain, and will star in an episode of FABA’s new, dramatic WebSeries The Traffick in August. She’s also secured a role in the upcoming feature film Taking Liberty.

Aliyah says what she enjoys most about acting is “telling a story and getting people out of their reality and making them believe and become invested in something she is creating.”

Looking ahead, Aliyah hopes use the actor showcases at UCLA as a springboard to a film acting career. “I can’t wait to start auditioning and truly living out my passion,” she said.

Actor Profile-Taylor Daniel


Role: Cassie Ferguson
Year In School: Sophomore
Theater Experience:
“I was Little Inez in Hairspray here at O’Dowd. I do a lot of outside theater.”

Describe your role in A Chorus Line.
“I play a well known dancer who everyone thought would become a star. She had a previous relationship with the director, Zach, that didn’t end well. This relationship complicates her audition dynamic.”

What themes and/or subject matter of the show attract you?
“The idea that so many different people with different backgrounds can find comfort and love in the same industry.”


What challenges, acting, singing, or dancing, does this production present?
“I would have to say all three; singing, dancing and acting. That’s actually my favorite part about the show. You have to work hard to be excellent in all three disciplines.”

Describe life as a BOD Drama Student?
“Life as a BOD drama student is extremely exciting. The kids in the drama program are very enthusiastic and so talented. Everyone is so much fun to be around.”

Actor Profile-Carl Ballantine


Role: Zach
Year In School: Junior

Theater Experience:
“I was in The Laramie Project my freshman year and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in my sophomore year.”

Describe your role in A Chorus Line.
“Zach is the director-choreographer of the show the characters are auditioning for. He’s dedicated to his work and wants only the very best dancers for his production.”

What themes and/or subject matter of the show attract you?
“While all of the characters are fun, there are also great dramatic moments where characters expose their true selves and share personal revelations. A common theme is a character’s development with adolescence, something most students at school are currently experiencing.”


What challenges, acting, singing, or dancing, does this production present?
“For me, there are less challenges than my fellow cast members have because Zach is not in many of the musical numbers. I do have a considerable role in the story, however, and get many fun interactions with the dancers.”

Describe life as a BOD Drama Student?
“Doing the shows at O’Dowd is a huge commitment. We rehearse every day for three hours. Putting that kind of effort toward one project is incredibly fulfilling. There are high expectations placed on us. We are expected to meet those expectations in no small part due to the group of people that direct our shows.”

Actor Profiles-Gaia Bostick


Role: Maggie Winslow
Year In School: Senior

Theater Experience:

“I began doing theater in elementary school and then continued doing musicals at Berkeley Playhouse throughout middle school. I’ve been in the following productions at Bishop O’Dowd, Sugar, Little Shop of Horrors, The Laramie Project, Hairspray and Godspell.


Describe your role in A Chorus Line.

“Maggie is a sweet but shy girl who came from a broken home. Her escape from her family life growing up was taking ballet class and dancer her heart out. Maggie has a huge imagination and enjoys living in her own fantasy world.”

What themes and/or subject matter of the show attract you?

“The show captures the effect that childhood has on people for the rest of their lives by revealing memories they both hate and cherish. I love how honest A Chorus Line is. It doesn’t sugarcoat the individual stories of each of the characters.”

What are challenges do this production present?

“The cast is all learning lots of different dance routines because the production is about dancers competing for a spot on a Broadway chorus line. There is also the challenge of acting like it is a real audition when in fact we are at performance level. Even when we know the dance steps for the opening number, for instance, we still have to act nervous as if we’re learning it for the first time.”

Describe life as a BOD Drama Student

“Life as an O’Dowd drama student is really fun. From learning so much from all the teachers over years, the Drama Department also becomes your family and community. Because we rehearse every day for 3-4 months, we become very close to one another. By the time we open, we all feel bonded and eager to share the accomplishment we’ve worked so hard for.”

Actor Profile Ruby Perez

Role: Diana Morales
Year In School: Sophomore
Theater Experience:
“At O’Dowd I’ve played Nurse Flynn in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve been in Godspell and in Hairspray. I fell in love with acting, singing and dancing in 8th grade when I played Lotta Cash in The Dastardly Doctor Deveraux.”

Describe your role in A Chorus Line.
“Diana is a Puerto Rican dancer and actress from The Bronx. She is always underestimated, but she continues to dream big. Like Diana, I believe in giving your all to make your dreams a reality and never regret sacrifices you make for the things you love.”


What themes and/or subject matter of the show attract you?
“Getting a glimpse of so many different personalities is why I love this show. Each character gets to explain how their lives were shaped and their decisions to become dancers in such a relatable and moving way.”

What challenges, acting, singing, or dancing, does this production present?
“The biggest challenge presented in doing this production is getting 100% commitment from all cast members. That, and time management.”

Describe life as a BOD Drama Student?
“Doing shows and taking drama class has taught me essential life skills, such as passion, commitment and hard work. These are skills that serve me in academics and on stage. Drama helps me connect with students from all grade levels. Drama students are very accepting of my high-energy personality. We are definitely a loving and tight-knit group.”


A Chorus Line is Cast


A Chorus Line Has Been Cast

Bishop O’Dowd High School’s spring production is A Chorus Line, a classic Broadway musical about dancers putting their life on the line for a job. The first day of the spring semester was the first day of auditions. Four days, and 12 hours later, the highly anticipated show was cast. Close to 50 talented students attended the challenging auditions vying for 19 speaking roles and multiple ensemble opportunities.

A Chorus Line opens April 29 and will play three weekends, with two Sunday matinee performances. Click to purchase tickets »


Please Note: A Chorus Line is suggested for Mature Audiences.

Cast List

Carl Ballantine, Seth Moure, Cameron McLaurin, Drew Downs, Bryce Ashford,
Jett Roberts, Chuck Novak, Eric Yu, Giuliano Sanchez, Christine Curulla, Taylor Daniel, Aliyah Turner, Nora Hurley, Ruby Perez, Nathalie Rivera, Maddie Parsnick, Gaia Bostick, Sophie Friedman, Cameron Park, Leila Barbera, Nina Goncharova, Lauryn La Duc, Sophia McHugh, Sheridan Grenda, Kyle Connors, Julia Hansen, Liana Willis, Gaia Palliere, Mathilde Provencher, Cece Garofoli, Maile Morrish, Maddalena Baldo, Sophia Rodriguez, Kalimah Davis, Arianna Pride, Morgan Ambers, Beatrice Velline, Kai Kendall, Nathan Francis, Alexa Carera, Sydney Lewis and Hanna White.


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Drama Teacher Profile


Profile of Drama Teacher Dennis Kolhes

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Finding God in All Things

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