By Laura McAlister
While many other teenagers were spending their summers lounging by the pool, Homewood’s Racquel Williams spent hers on stage.
To those who know her, this is no surprise. The 16-year-old Homewood High School incoming junior has been performing since she was 2.
Be it at school or church or maybe just in her living room among family and friends, Racquel has a love for singing, dancing and acting. Though she hasn’t had any formal training, Homewood city schools superintendent Dr. Bill Cleveland, at a recent performance of hers, said Racquel was a special talent. He suspects he’ll be hearing a lot about her well after her graduation from Homewood High, he added.
Those who’ve heard her voice know just what he means.
“She’s had random strangers come up to her and want to hug her,” said Theresa De Leon, Racquel’s mother. “She’s touched them. We have people come up and say her singing has touched them.”
In addition to being one of the lead vocalists in Homewood High’s show choir, Racquel also is a member of the Red Mountain Theatre Company.
She spent much of her summer in rehearsals for and performances of the company’s Broadway hit “Legally Blonde.” Racquel is a member of the ensemble in the play, which is showing now-Aug. 5 at the Virginia Samford Wright Theatre.
Racquel said practice for the production of “Legally Blonde” has taken up much her weekdays this summer, and the performances are on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The show will be over by the time school starts, but Racquel hopes to be moving on to performing with the HHS Show Choir as well as rehearsing for the Red Mountain Theatre Company’s holiday show.
“Sometimes it’s hard to balance everything,” the 16-year-old said. “But it’s worth it. It’s really what I love to do.”
Theresa said Racquel is really the only artistic one in their family. She said she loves hearing her daughter sing and watching her perform, even though Theresa is more comfortable being on the field than on the stage.
“Me and her dad had to adjust because we have a love for sports,” she said. “I’m a firefighter, and he loves soccer. We had to look at this as Racquel’s sport. At 2-3 years of age, we decided this was her gift – her stage presence and vocals.”
Once she graduates, Racquel wants to study performing arts in college in New York, Los Angeles or maybe Connecticut, where there are several art schools, she said.
“We just know it will be out of state,” Theresa added.
From there, it’s either Broadway or a career in pop singing, Racquel said.
“I kind of changed my mind from Broadway to pop,” she said. “There were some people from Los Angeles at a (RMTC) workshop last summer who kind of moved me more toward pop. I want to do singing and acting.”
Though she’s gotten lots of experience between show choir and RMTC, Racquel said she still gets nervous when she performs.
“When I hear the crowd, I get really shaky and scared,” she said.
But she has learned to control it. She just listens to some of her favorite music, maybe Alicia Keys or Katy Perry, and it calms her nerves. When it comes to music, the two pop singers are among her favorites.
When it comes to Broadway, she also has a favorite role she aspires to play.
“I went to Broadway for the first time this spring,” Racquel said. “We saw three plays. One was ‘Spiderman.’ There was this queen spider. I really want to be her.”