Danté Sims13 October 2022
Achievements highlight Danté’s school career like spotlights on a stage. However, this humble woman never aimed to win – she just aimed to always do her best. By grabbing opportunities that came her way and relying on the support of her parents and teachers, she gained exposure to a wide variety of activities that ultimately shaped her career interests.
In her matric year she was cast as the lead character in the school’s production, Snow, participated – and won – Talent Africa and Talent America, and recorded an album; all while maintaining good marks. She entered in three categories for singing for Talent Africa and won all categories to proceed to Talent America – the international finals held in New York. There, she entered in camera modelling and acting as well as singing. She won all her categories again and received the overall top achiever’s award, which is presented to the one participant who shows the most promise across a wide variety of areas.
Her love for the performing arts started at a young age. Her day-care teacher taught hymns to the kids and the teacher’s youngest son – a silver flutist – often danced with her and played for her. However, she never considered it as anything but a cultural activity until her she joined the choir in Grade 1. She loved singing so much that later started taking private singing classes with music teacher Myrtle Visser – with whom she built a very close relationship.
Danté was devastated when Ms Visser moved to Curro Brackenfell in her Grade 11 year. ‘Ms Myrtle was like a mother to me,’ she said, ‘I remember a day when I was overwhelmed and ill and went to Ms Myrtle for a hug. She made me tea, tucked me in with the pillows and blankets in her class and informed my next class teacher that I would miss the class. She let me sleep there while continuing with her regular classes.’ Switching music teachers in Grade 12 would have been too disruptive, so Ms Visser taught Danté in a private capacity until the end of the year. ‘Ms Myrtle’s dedication to her learners is astounding.’
‘We started rehearsals for Snow just before I left for Talent America and I had a looming deadline for an art project.’ She would rehearse a scene and then run to a nearby classroom to work on her art project until a classmate would come to get her for the next scene. ‘The scene where Snow White is asleep after eating the poison apple was rehearsed so many times that I fell asleep on stage. I woke up to people looming over me, going “Snow? Snow?” and I had to jump back into character before anyone noticed.’ Without the support of teachers who allowed her to take part in so many activities, she wouldn’t have been able to balance everything.
Although Danté’s love for children and helping people had put her on a path to study psychology, her mother suggested that she consider a career in the performing arts because of her great passion and talent for it. ‘Very few parents would lean their children towards the arts.’ So, she enrolled for BA Drama and Theatre Studies and decided to continue with Psychology throughout her studies. She hopes to combine her passions to build a career in drama therapy. ‘Many children don’t have the tools needed to grow into a functional, well-developed adults. I want to help them develop these tools through expression and movement rather than traditional therapy.’
Her advice to learners is to grab every opportunity that comes their way and to work hard at everything they do. ‘I never set out to be the best or to win. I just set high standards for myself from a young age, so delivering excellent work became a personal habit of sorts. Only through exposing yourself to various activities can you find passions and career opportunities that you would not have been aware of otherwise.’
‘Life can be scary if you focus only on the plan you set for yourself. Of course, you need a plan, but you have to be open to opportunities coming your way – that is how you will find where you need to be.’