Celia Tedde, music theatre and vocal performance freshman, balances her two passions: theatre and her job as a national officer of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY). Between weeks of music classes, she travels around the country presenting to Jewish youth.
Q: Tell me about your job with the board of temple youth.
A: My official position is Religious and Cultural Vice President (RCVP). Essentially, it’s my job to help the movement with any priorities that involve Jewish religion, culture, relations, Israel engagement, etc. I work with 19 other RCVPs throughout North America – there are 19 regions in the movement. I travel to other regions and work with their VPs.
Q: What kind of things do you do specifically?
A: Each RCVP has their own initiatives they’re working on. I’m creating a social media campaign for Jewish holidays, bringing knowledge of our holidays into homes. I’m also working to create the first song leader network, so that our song leaders can be connected like the RCVPs. Additionally, I am creating an online day of learning for the 8,000 teens in our movement. One of my biggest initiatives is creating inclusive communities by providing materials and resources and starting discussions. The main way to do this is through an intentional language shift (like saying “parents or guardians” instead of “mom and dad” since not everyone has a mom and dad). Lots of people think inclusion means involving “them” – the minority. Every person has something that makes them different. Instead of making a big deal about including the minority, we want to include everyone.
Q: Explain a little more about your “movement.”
A: The word “organization” is limiting, so we use “movement.” We reach further than our organization through social action. The huge thing in our movement now is gun violence prevention. Horrible things are happening, which is not good, but it’s cool to see the change in media that’s happening. At first, gun violence was not reported. We’re getting closer now – people are paying attention. The media is starting to care.
Q: If you had to live in one place for the rest of your life, where would you live?
A: Probably New York City. I love the idea of living in such a large place with so much going on and so many things to do, especially when it comes to theatre.
Q: What’s the ultimate dream?
A: That’s so hard. I’ve always said my ultimate goal in life is that when I die, the Westboro Baptist people picket my funeral. If they protest, I must have done something correctly. Other than that, I want to be in New York City doing theatre.
Q: If Dr. Herendeen said you could be cast in any role in any show next semester, what role and show would you choose?
A: Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.
Q: If someone designed a puppet after you, what would you want it to wear?
A: I feel like I’d be really excited if it had a big, poofy ball gown. I’ve never had one, but I always wanted to. I guess I will live vicariously through my puppet.
Q: What is the worst advice someone has ever given you?
A: “You have to lose weight to get into college.” Someone told me that. Also, “Talk less, smile more” – Aaron Burr.
Q: What is the most awkward situation you’ve ever been in?
A: I inadvertently made a very inappropriate innuendo in front of a group of 200 teens and 30 staff members at camp this summer.
Q: What song or video always makes you cry?
A: Oh my gosh. There’s this stupid video from Upworthy (a social action justice website) called “ReMoved.” It’s not stupid, it’s actually beautiful. It’s about a girl in the foster system who was raised in abusive home. She gets separated from her brother and put in another home. Her new foster home is amazing, and she gets a new dress. When she looks at the dress, she experiences a flashback to her mom wearing the same dress. Her mom’s boyfriend insults it and hits the mom. When the girl recalls this memory, she freaks out. She eventually calms down and puts on the dress, but when she walks out, she hears mom calling the agency, second guessing her choice to take the girl. The girl runs to her room, gets her suitcase, and goes outside. When a car pulls up, her brother steps out. It gets me every time.
Q: What show do you wish never existed?
A: Cats. I don’t like cats in real life. I don’t like cats in musical form. Since I’m allergic to cats in life, I must be allergic to musical cats as well.
Q: What is one book you think everyone should read?
A: I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter. To be part of society, you should read Harry Potter. There are references everywhere.
Q: What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance?
A: I’ve always wanted to do indoor skydiving. I’m too scared to do outdoor skydiving, but indoor, you get to casually feel like you’re doing the real thing. It’s closer to ground, though, so you’re less likely to die. Maybe I’ve always wanted to go to space… Never mind. That’s even more dangerous.