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Local student places in August Wilson event

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Alexis Cannard takes third in national monologue contest in New York City

COURTESY: CARLOS GUSTAVO MONROY - Alexis Cannard took third place at the national August Wilson Monologue Competition in New York City. After months of intensive preparation for the August Wilson Monologue Competition in New York City, local Roosevelt High School senior Alexis Cannard can sleep soundly with her third-place prize.

The 18-year-old was selected after placing first in the regional competition here in Portland.

The competition, in its ninth year, honors the late August Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning African American playwright who died in 2005 from cancer. It was held on May 1 at the August Wilson Theatre, where students from Portland, New York City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle all read monologues from Wilson and were judged by several noted Broadway talents — Brandon J. Dirden, Roslyn Ruff, Ruben Santiago Hudson, David Gallo and even Pauletta Washington, Hollywood actor Denzel Washington's wife.

"It was amazing," Cannard says in a phone chat with the Tribune. She says the weekend was jam-packed, with seeing shows, meeting other students, touring theaters and the like.

Cannard performed a monologue from "King Hedley II," as the character Ruby. She says the experience gave her validity in her passions.

"It can be really nervewracking and overwhelming and scary to want to do art," Cannard says. "And I think that just through the experience, and through so many people and other students being supportive, it was just validation in those endeavors and a reminder of why I choose to do the things that I love to do."

Student Jazanna Riddlesprigger of the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy in Beaverton also competed in the competition. Taking first place was Sarah Rodrigues, of New York City, performing as Rose from "Fences." "Fences" was recently adapted into a major film starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in March.

Cannard enjoyed meeting and working with all other students in both the regional and national competition.

"The other students that came were all just really great, and I made friends while I was there. It was a surreal experience, I'm thankful," she says.

Cannard will attend Drexel University, in Philadelphia, this fall, majoring in music industry and theater at the school's Pennoni Honors College, while spending this summer practicing writing and music.

She says she'll put the $1,000 she won from the competition toward tuition.