Top Teens 2013
Bethesda Magazine's 2012 Extraordinary Teen Awards
One had a starring role on the TV cooking competition Chopped. Another performs with a preprofessional dance group and landed the lead in several local musicals. A third parlayed a keen photographic eye and an entrepreneurial spirit into her own greeting card business. And they did it all while keeping up with demanding schedules that include academics, sports and volunteerism.
These are among the winners of Bethesda Magazine’s fourth annual Extraordinary Teen Awards—12 high school students whose accomplishments clearly transcend their age.
Senior, Bullis School
For Rockville’s Sean Watkinson, the thrill of acting is being able to immerse yourself in someone else’s life—if only for a two-hour stretch. “It’s really amazing to let go of yourself and not worry about any of your problems,” the Bullis senior says.
At the same time, the 18-year-old manages “to find himself in every role.” He has virtually grown up on stage—from playing a mouse in a Levine School of Music production of Cinderella at age 8 to being cast as the male lead in major musicals with Levine’s Act Two Performing Arts theater ensemble.
The youngest in a family of performers, Sean tagged along to rehearsals with three older siblings. His brother Ryan is an actor who made it to Broadway, landing roles in revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Promises, Promises.
His mother, Carmelita Watkinson, a lawyer-turned-photographer, says of her youngest: “We started out with dancing classes, then he just started doing show after show.”
Dance, in fact, is Sean’s foundation. He was one of the original dancers in Renegade, a modern dance company started by Adin Walker, a choreographer friend. Sean also studies and performs with CityDance Conservatory, a preprofessional dance program at The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.
At Act Two, Sean’s input has been critical to the staging of some sophisticated material, including the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening last season. The musical deals with teen sexuality, and Act Two was determined to present it with sensitivity, says Kevin Kuchar, Act Two’s artistic director.
Sean suggested coming up with a family-friendly way to perform “Totally F—ked,” a song about the male protagonist being expelled from school. Instead of uttering the profanity, performers made creative use of hand gestures.
Even with his hectic schedule, Sean participates in the Teen Angel Project, a group that performs for the disabled and elderly. He also has managed to remain on Bullis’ honor role despite getting home after 10 most nights.
Though Kuchar says Sean ranks among his top students, the young performer doesn’t pursue the spotlight. Rather, he’s the consummate collaborator.
“He wants the big picture as much as the individual performance,” Kuchar says.