If Emilio Ruiters’ experience in Los Angeles is anything near as gritty or successful as the story of his audition, he is set for life.
The 18-year-old Ocean View dancer has been accepted into iPOP Los Angeles – a five-day talent convention – and now needs to get to the City of Angels to dance for a place among the stars.
He was chosen by directors of DMH Talent Agency and will be working with industry experts, alongside entrants from 30 countries during the talent-scouting event.
Emilio entered a video clip of himself dancing and was selected to audition in Claremont, but
Emilio’s mom, Marylin Ruiters, a single parent of three kids, didn’t have the money to get there.
Emilio was crushed but tried not to show it. Some days later his mom asked when and where the next audition was. It was in Port Elizabeth. Marilyn recalls how Emilio laughed when she told him to book it. “He said to me, ‘Mom, if we didn’t have money to get to Claremont, how are we going to get to PE?’” Marilyn smiles. “What he doesn’t know is that when I was young, I loved dance too and wanted to go into choreography. There wasn’t money for me to study, so I never did anything with my interest. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to Emilio.”
Instead, Marilyn took a leap of faith. “I took R270 from my younger child’s school fees, and I went to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels. And I raffled it.”
It worked. She raised the funds to get to PE. Now they needed enough to get back.
Marilyn says her boss heard about this and organised an in-store raffle. And they raised enough to get back after the audition.
“My sister paid for us to spend one night in a hotel, and my pensioner father gave us R500 towards it.”
Because Emilio was 17 at the time he needed to be accompanied to the event. So the mother and son set off by bus to the audition… and the most stressful sequence of events yet. The bus trip turned out to be a lot longer than anyone had realised, so they arrived at their destination at 4am in the dark, in an unfamiliar city – by now too late for their hotel room.
“Now I only had a little bit of cash on me for transport; I had packed us some food,” says Marilyn. “We had four pieces of chicken, and four slices of bread and two bottles of water each.”
And they were now kilometres from the hotel and the scout hall where the auditions were planned for 8am. Marilyn calls what happened next “the hand of God”. An Uber driver by the name of Malcolm approached them, and they accepted a lift to the venue. It was supposed to cost R100, but Malcolm was charmed by the story of Emilio’s audition and gave them a discount.
A 40-minute journey placed them outside the venue, but it was dark and cold, and Malcolm was uncomfortable leaving them there, so he drove them to a nearby garage where they could at least sit under the floodlight and have eyes on them from the petrol attendants.
Straight from the garage with no real sleep, no shower, no hot breakfast, the two walked to the audition hall. The pressure was so bad, Emilio forgot the words to his monologue, three times. But the judge asked him to dance.
“So right then my phone dies… and I had to go get my mom’s phone but luckily she had made me put the song on her phone,” he laughs.
Immediately after his audition, the judge said Emilio would need to work on his confidence, and the mother and son left with a resounding no in their ears; devastated.
Malcolm called to hear the news and said he could not believe that this was so. He collected them and took them to a nearby hotel because they still had not eaten or slept properly.
“After we had freshened up, I was determined to go book our tickets home, but we walked and walked and could not find the place,” says Marilyn.
They collapsed into a deep sleep and woke later, to messages on their phones that changed Emilio’s life. He had made it through.
At daybreak, they set off again back to the venue to audition a second time and to sign the paperwork. It was now official. Even Malcolm was glad. They laughed. And now all they needed to do was get home, which presented a slight problem because the room that had been booked for them was cheaper than the room closest to the scout hall and the difference showed up
“I can laugh now but in the moment I was freaking out and I didn’t want Emilio to know that I was short to get us home,” says Marilyn. And once again, Malcolm appeared. This time he called to find out if they had managed to book their tickets.
“I told him I was R50 short and we were looking at other bus services,” Marilyn says. Instead, she was told to step outside. And Malcolm appeared, with a R50 note in his hands – and a smile. “I still can’t believe it. Malcolm doesn’t want any fuss about his role but where would we have been without
Emilio says: “Our youth have become so despondent because of the troubles we face in Ocean View all the time. I would like to take this opportunity to prove that nothing is impossible if you work towards your dream.”
His next challenge is to raise R50 000 by the end of September for his travel costs, dance gear and food for the trip.
If you can help, contact Ms
Ruiters on 060 661 9403.