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Teens from Long Island, NYC up for prestigious Jimmy Awards

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — The Jimmy Awards honor the best musical theater performers in the nation’s high schools, and once again, ABC 7 is a proud sponsor of the event that streams on July 15.

There are 72 nominees from 36 regions around the United States, and they are the faces and voices of the future of Broadway — and the best of the Great White Way is coming together virtually to coach the talented youngsters.

Katriana Koppe and Mateo Lizcano are two of the best from high schools across the country.

“We get these opportunities to work with people in the industry, and it’s magical,” Koppe said.

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The 18-year-old Koppe is from Wantagh High School on Long Island, while the 17-year-old Lizcano has one year left at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens.

“All the kids are so talented, so amazing,” Lizcano said. “Every single person is just fantastic.”

Both insist the talent pool is not intimidating, but inspiring, and that getting into that mindset is also a tool the Jimmy Awards has helped develop.

“In this career and I just think in life in general, you should never stop learning and never stop striving to be better or improve,” Lizcano said.

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Students qualify for the national competition by earning top honors at various regional events, and the competition is intense.

“(Actor) Ryan McCartan, who was an incredible guest speaker for us, he was saying you can’t let watching other people that are talented determine your self-worth,” Koppe said.

And so one virtual week with the other nominees from across the country gave them a chance to get even better, and also build self-confidence.

“One of my favorite quotes from ‘A Bronx Tale,’ ‘The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,'” Lizcano said. “No one should waste their talent.”

Nothing wasted here, and after a year of lights out on Broadway, the Jimmy Awards pressed on.

“Theater is so important,” Lizcano said. “It’s really important, and I think everyone recognizes that as soon as it went away.”

RELATED | Corbin Bleu announced as 2021 Jimmy Awards host, judges also announced

And the students are so grateful to have this chance at this time.

“Every single person that was able to take part in this 100% is a winner,” Koppe said.

Each year, two students are presented with a trophy for the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor. Past winners, like Andrew Barth Feldman (“Dear Evan Hansen”), have gone on to star on Broadway.

This year’s host is Corbin Bleu, of “High School Musical” fame.

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