We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydney Elise Russell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sydney, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
There are three factors that have impacted my success. I know I would not have achieved as much as I have in my 9 years of life without each of these components. Having supportive parents and family is a tremendous blessing. My parents always listen to me and help me bring my ideas to life. My family cheers me on and encourages me to be my best. Since I’m only 9 years old, I need the help of my family as I pursue my creative dreams. Always being myself has been a huge factor in my success. I am inspired by other artists and creatives, but I never try to copy them. Being myself allows me to connect with people and share the real me with the world. Lastly, my determination has been very instrumental. When I have a goal, I don’t give up – even when something seems hard to achieve. I know there’s always a way to “make it happen”, and I just have to find the right path.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
At the age of five, I saw my first Broadway musical, Disney’s The Lion King. From the moment I saw “Young Nala” walk onto the stage, I knew that’s what I was meant to do. When I told my parents about my goal, they enrolled me in theater camp and theater classes. Shortly after turning six years old, I landed my first role as Tinker Bell in Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. Since then I’ve been in several musicals (including Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. and The Wiz), traditional theater, and independent short films. In October 2019, I had the most amazing experience. While celebrating my birthday in Disney World, my parents surprised me with a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Disney’s special salon that turns you into your favorite princess. I chose, Princess Tiana, and after the wonderful makeover, we headed straight to Magic Kingdom to meet LOTS of Disney Princesses! As we walked down Main Street, the Disney Philharmonic Marching Band was playing “When We’re Human” from The Princess and the Frog. I heard the music and immediately started dancing. A Disney Photopass photographer noticed me and asked, “Why aren’t you dancing out there?” (he motioned toward the band). Then he escorted me right out front and I danced like EVERYONE was watching. My father caught the special moment on video, and my parents shared it with family on social media. We had no idea the video would go viral. Millions of people watched and shared my video, which resulted in me appearing on the Strahan, Sara, and Ke Ke television show three times. I still can’t believe I had that experience, but I’m so proud of myself for seizing the moment. That experience helped me to see that I could positively impact others, just by being myself. I love to sing, dance, act, and craft, and I use all of those talents to make people happy. When COVID-19 and the quarantine began, I discovered another way to impact others – through writing. I wrote my first children’s book, Super ME: Stephanie and the Magical Bracelet, to help children face their fears and see their true power within. As usual, my parents helped me bring this new idea to life. I knew I wanted to impact as many people as I could, so we created a Kickstarter campaign and I raised almost $5K to fund my vision to share my book with children all over the world. I am so thankful for all of the support I’ve received. In Fall 2020 I sent my book to over 100 children all over the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and Singapore! This was another dream come true. What I want the world to take away from my story is that you don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to make an impact. With a vision, support, and a plan you can achieve your dream!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I moved to the Houston area in 2016, so I don’t know all of the best places to visit, but I have a few that I enjoy. I love the fact that Houston is warm for most of the year, so our first stop would be to my neighborhood pool. We’d get there at mid-morning, hang out by the pool for a while, and then hop in the water to splash and play. After getting dressed, we would head to one of my favorite restaurants, BJ’s (in Richmond, TX). They have lots of variety on their menu and their Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds are THE BEST! Unfortunately, the place I’d definitely want to go for dessert, the Unicorn Magical Dessert Bar in downtown Houston, has closed due to the pandemic. I hope to have one of their delicious unicorn cupcakes again soon.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shout out to my parents for their continued love and support. They are also right there to help me and guide me. I also want to thank my family for their encouragement. I’m sending a special thank you to Mr. Alric Davis for recommending me for this interview.