Written by Marissa Grey, JVibe
Shayna Goldstein performs. (Courtesy: ABC)
Shayna Goldstein, a 17-year-old from Denver, Colo., was - until recently - one of six remaining contestants on ABC’s hit reality TV show High School Musical: Get in the Picture. We got personal with Shayna about her experience as the only Jew on the show, and what she plans to do when it’s all over.
Exactly what is High School Musical: Get in the Picture?
It’s basically 12 incredibly talented teenagers, who are working and growing together, being themselves and performing and honing their skills to hopefully win the prize at the end—the lead in a music video that will be [shown] during the end credits of High School Musical 3: Senior Year in theaters, plus an ABC talent-hold contract and two singles with Disney Records.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
The greatest challenge has been being myself throughout the competition, and not losing sight of who I am by trying to impress people. You just need to know who you are and what you want. It’s hard when you’re put in front of the cameras to act normally and not push too hard—[to] just sing, be you and not overdo it. [I’m] learning how to relax and be myself no matter what’s thrown at me.
Your dad is a cantor. Have you had experience singing in front of people?
We have the largest Conservative synagogue in Colorado. I sing with him at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and he does a lot of concerts that I sing with him. I’m really lucky because I’ve grown up singing with my dad, so I don’t get stage fright. I’m excited to perform instead of [being] nervous. Everything you do sticks forever in front of the camera, so it’s a little scary, but you get used to it.
Have your parents been supportive of this experience?
My parents have been more than supportive. I get asked all the time if I want to be a cantor, but I don’t. I have my own music, so my dream is to be able to perform my music. No doubt I’m going to stay connected to my Judaism my whole life, but being a cantor isn’t for me.
My dad is a seventh-generation cantor, and my mom is a lawyer and also a ballerina. I have a very musical- [and] performance-related family. That’s how my dad influenced me—I could sing before I could talk!
What kind of music do you write?
I have a hard time classifying its genre. It’s pop-lyrical-acoustic kind of stuff. I really like The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Oasis. I could list you like 25 different groups.
Shayna Goldstein is the daughter of a cantor and a ballerina. (Courtesy: ABC)
You’re the only Jew on the show. What has that been like?
I am. I’m really secure with my Judaism. I love who I am, and Judaism is a really big part of me. It’s one of the first things I tell people. It’s a huge part of who I am, so it makes me stand out. There’s such a huge Jewish community, and I have all of that support while I’m here.
Are your Jewish values helping you get through the competition?
My values have no doubt helped me through this competition. I’ve grown up in such a loving community. After every show we get emails and calls from everyone, saying how proud they are. When you meet another Jew, it’s an instant connection. It doesn’t matter; you just are connected. That’s what I’ve learned—how to interact and how to be humble and kind.
You’re a huge role model for teens and millions of people are watching the show. How does this fit in to your future plans for performing?
Now that I have this opportunity for people to watch me sing, how I interact with people gives me so much more of a passion to keep pursuing what I’m doing. Apparently it’s working! My dream is to have as many people as I can hear me sing.
If you don’t win the competition, will you still continue with music?
No matter what happens in the competition, I have met so many great people and worked with so many talented kids and great artists. Music is my passion. I will write music no matter what happens. When I’m 90 years old I’ll be writing music. If I get turned down, who cares? I write for me—I sing to emote and make people feel something. So whether it’s 10 [people] or a million, I’ll never stop singing.
What’s your message to your fans?
No matter what it is that you want—singing, dancing, acting, being a doctor—if you want it badly enough, nothing will ever stop you. I told myself when I started singing that it was what I was going to do with my life. If you’re that sure of something, there’s no way you won’t achieve it.
This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of JVibe magazine, the national magazine for Jewish teens.