Christmas arrived early for a Westhill teenager with aspirations for a stage career when she landed a coveted place at the MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh.
Local schoolgirl Melissa Heywood, 16, will begin training for her dream career next summer, when she embarks on an HND Musical Theatre course after impressing staff during an intensive audition.
After gaining entry to one of Scotland’s leading performing arts academies, the S5 pupil at Westhill Academy has her sights firmly set on carving out a career as a professional performer.
Melissa said: “It’s the Christmas present from heaven.
“I’m looking forward to everything involved in studying at the MGA Academy, and I’ll be doing what I really want to do.
“My family are so fed up of me singing and dancing around the house, so I’m excited about going to do it somewhere else.
She added: “I think the MGA Academy will help build my confidence as a performer, especially in singing, and I can’t wait to perform in all their big shows.
“It was a big decision to leave school after fifth year, and it’s a huge thing to be moving away from home.
“I’ve been to Edinburgh for dance shows and, earlier this year, for a jazz festival with my family. The festival scene there is a big draw.”
During an intensive audition, Melissa impressed tutors in jazz and ballet lessons, a monologue presentation, and a singing class.
Melissa started dancing at City Moves in Aberdeen and is a member at Fusion Dance Company and Inverurie’s Evolution School of Dance.
For the past decade, she has also been a part of local charity The Gaitherin, which runs workshops in music, dance, and drama for young people.
Melissa lists Westhill Academy drama teacher Yvonne Wheeler and singing teacher Matthew Rose among her inspirations.
Andrew Gowland, managing director of the MGA Academy, said: “We look forward to welcoming Melissa to the academy.
“She is already very talented and impressed all the staff during her audition, but we are confident the training she receives here will ensure that she improves as a performer and help her achieve her dream of being on stage.
The MGA Academy is currently accepting applications for places on full-time courses starting in September, 2017.
An open day will be held on Thursday, February 9.