Martina and Ernesto Amaya enjoyed Fairyland even before they had their daughters Yaretzie and Valeria.
On May 5, 2013, - Cinco de Mayo - for the first time in history, kids will be able to use a "Magic Key" to unlock Magic Storybook tales and songs in Spanish at Oakland Children's Fairyland. And one of the voices they’ll hear is from someone whose family has been part of Fairyland family for a decade.
Yaretzie Amaya first auditioned for the Children’s Theatre program 10 years ago, when she was 9. Looking back, she admits she didn’t want to try out.
“I was really shy,” Amaya admitted. But her parents, Ernesto and Martina, urged her to dig deep down for courage and perform the popular song “Macarena” for judges.
Amaya said she remembers her performance as being “not a pretty picture.” However, the judges felt otherwise. She was cast as a hummingbird in a production of “Brazilian Tales” and her photo ran in The Montclarion newspaper.
Today, Amaya is a confident 19-year-old sophomore at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her hummingbird photo is displayed in her parents’ living room.
Amaya is no longer as shy as she once was. She became friends with other Children’s Theatre cast members and volunteered for Fairyland projects that exposed her to new experiences. In fact, Amaya took part in a park promotional video, participated in parades and joined in a group that acted out the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for park guests. She also was chosen to be a part of Fairyland’s first-ever musical CD; which was produced in 2004 by music-industry pros Lori and R.J., aka Cotton Candy Express.
In addition to singing backup on many of the songs, Amaya performed a duet in Spanish with Lori and even provided the whinny of a sick donkey. In the process, she learned about vocal harmonization, proper studio etiquette and the importance of practice.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” Amaya said. “It
opened me up to new opportunities and helped me to grow as a person.”
Over the years, Amaya's whole family got into the act. Ernesto and Martina were two of the most active and amazing volunteers who assisted in every production and parade and even created the Nativity scene displayed as part of the multicultural Fairy Winterland celebration.
Amaya's younger sister, Valeria, also is a
graduate of the theatre program and currently is a volunteer counselor for Fairyland's
In high school, Amaya acted in a number of productions and won the best supporting actress award in her senior year at Oakland's Bishop O’Dowd High School for her performance as Chava in “Fiddler on the Roof.” So you probably can understand why, when Amaya recently applied for a summer job at Children’s Fairyland, we immediately said “yes.” She’d already been a stellar park ambassador for years, and we knew that her talent and people skills would serve us and our guests well.
You can also understand why we approached Amaya to participate in our huge project and to translate the content in our beloved Storybook Boxes into Spanish.
“I really feel honored to
be asked,” she said. “I couldn’t say no; I want to give back.”
For her part, CD producer Lori, is excited to be reunited with the Amaya family.
“They’re all so friendly, loving and spirited,” Lori said.
However, the studio sessions will have to be worked into Amaya’s current college schedule. Right now she’s majoring in legal studies with a minor in education.
“I'm taking a
little break from acting,” Amaya said.