Centre stage: Zoy Frangos performs at the 2019 American Australian Arts Awards in New York where he received the Rising Star award. Photos: SUPPLIED

Exciting times ahead for Rising Star

February 13, 2019 BY

Wemba-Wemba man, actor and singer Zoy Frangos received the Rising Star award at the 2019 American Australian Arts Awards in New York at the end of January.

THE awards, hosted by the American Australian Association, celebrated special guests Simon Baker and Elle Macpherson for their outstanding creative contributions to the international arts community.

Frangos performed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Til I Hear You Sing Once More in front of the black-tie audience.

“A boy from Ballarat going to a dinner in New York to be lauded is pretty surreal,” Frangos said.

“One of my goals has always been to perform in New York, so this is a dream come true. It is a big honour and a surprise for me.”

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer, educator and head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts nominated Frangos for the award.

Cheetham mentored Frangos while he was studying a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theatre at VCA and guided him to embrace his indigenous heritage in performance.

Growing up in Ballarat 36-year old Frangos said it was all about his Greek side of the family.

“I lost my grandmother when I was quite young, she had a bit of connection back with country in Swan Hill at Lake Boga,” he said.

His family subsequently relocated to Ballarat.

“They sort of hid it [her indigenousness] due to the times they were growing up in.

“It got lost a bit, we knew about it but my mum never talked about it.”

Cheetham took him under her wing when the Wilin Centre invited him to come to open day at VCA.

“I said to my mum I know all about my Greek side I would really like to know about your side,” Frangos said.

Over the years Cheetham has taken him to work with indigenous kids in the community where he learnt more about the food and the culture.

“It has been really eye-opening and wonderful and without her I wouldn’t ever have had these opportunities.”

Frangos has taken on a role as mentor himself in order “To be that voice and work with younger kids, be connected and to encourage them to consider a performing career.”

“I love working with younger people who are coming up, especially because of my unconventional entry into this industry I can really relate to people who don’t see that it can happen,” he said.

The key for him is to encourage indigenous youth to really be themselves because nobody is like them.

“I love getting this message to people young kids to give them a way to start, seeing them taking the reins of a role and making it their own,” he said.

Frangos said he feels the balance of both his cultural backgrounds in his life is now more stable.

He starred in the first indigenous opera Pecan Summer and other Australian theatre tours including Les Misérables and My Fair Lady.

His talent was selected by Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. He also played Halloran in the world premiere of Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical.

Frangos, looking forward to the next five years said, “They should be full of important moments and hopefully this [Rising Star award] is a spring board.”

Proceeds raised from the awards dinner support the Association and its American-Australian Arts Fund, which provide scholarships and grants to talented American and Australian artists, to undertake artistic development in each other’s country.