“I like to be popular,” Aaliyah says, smiling. She fiddles with the strap of her red purse that matches perfectly with the red ribbon in her hair and her red polo shirt. The gold hoop earrings she wears are shaped like hearts.
“My play is called The Fab Five: Confessions of a Party Girl,” Aaliyah explains. “It’s about this girl named Ariyanna. She’s really popular. Her father is the President and her mother is the principal of her school. So if the teachers get on Ariyanna’s case about being too popular then her mother can defend her. The other girl in the play is Chelsi. She’s not popular and she wants Ariyanna to stop being popular. She keeps bossing her, acting like she’s her mother, but she’s not.”
“In the end Chelsi loses and Ariyanna wins,” Aaliyah says, grinning. “Ariyanna is still popular, like me.”
Aaliyah likes to spend time with her friends and family, going to the mall and the movies, singing along to their favorite songs by Trey Songz, Ciara and Usher.
Ms. Mariam Al-Shawaf, Aaliyah’s teacher at Maya Angelou Public Charter School noticed a transformation in Aaliyah when they began YPT’s In-School Playwriting program
“Working on the play was the most work she’s done all year in any class,” Ms. Al-Shawaf says. “She really enjoyed writing it. And then, once she’d started working during English period she’d go on to be productive in other periods as well.”
Despite her seeming confidence, Ms. Al-Shawaf reports that Aaliyah was nervous when the actors stepped forward to read her play on the last day of class. “She protested. She was embarrassed,” she says.
“I felt nervous because I didn’t know if it was going to come out right,” Aaliyah says. “And then, when it did, I felt excited and happy.”
Aaliyah advises other young playwrights, “Don’t be worried because your play will come out good. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says about your play as long as you like it.”
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