5 questions with the founder of ‘Louisville’s Got Talent’

5 questions with the founder of ‘Louisville’s Got Talent’
Jake Latts is the founder of Louisvllle's Got Talent.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - 18-year old Jake Latts, a senior at Kentucky Country Day, leaves in the Fall for Yale University. But first, he is busy preparing for the 6th annual Louisville’s Got Talent event, a fundraiser he started and that has so far raised $50,000!

The competition is a talent show for youth in the Greater Louisville area. CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center produces the event. It allows children between 6-18 to compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to be seen by local talent agencies and directors. The funds raised benefits CenterStage Acting Out, a touring children’s theater troupe that visits schools and community venues.

Louisville's Got Talent is now in its sixth year.
Louisville's Got Talent is now in its sixth year.

The first round for the competition is Sunday, March 10th from 2 – 7 p.m. at the J. Participants must register in advance for a time slot by going to www.CenterStageJCC.org/talent. There is a $20 per person registration fee for the first act and $5 for each additional act.

Then, the Top 20 acts will go on to compete in the Live Grand Finale on Sunday, April 14th, 2019 at 7p.m. The finale will be judged by Teddy Abrams(Louisville Orchestra), Emily Albrink (vocalist), Ben Sollee (musician/performer), Robert Curren (Louisville Ballet), Gail Benedict (dancer), Neill Robertson(actor). As a prior judge, I can tell you the competition is a lot of fun to watch.

Jake, by the way, plans to pursue a future in the arts. He says he’d love to perform on Broadway, and could also imagine being a music director.

Here are my five questions with Jake Latts, the founder of Louisville’s Got Talent.

1) How did you come up with the idea of Louisville’s Got Talent?

It is customary when having a bar or bat mitzvah to do a service project as part of the training. As I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to do something that tied to my love of theater and music. I knew that I had been really fortunate as a child to get to attend great live theater as well have great exposure to theater at school. I also knew that many other kids in Louisville were not as fortunate as I. My mom happened upon an article in the Community paper about a new program at the JCC’s CenterStage that was being called Acting Out. Acting Out was being created as a dedicated children’s theater with the specific mission to go out into the community performing at area schools, with a concentration in underserved schools. This program sounded like the perfect thing for me to want to help. From there, I came up with the idea of creating a kids talent show fundraiser. Hence was born Louisville’s Got Talent.

2. What was the most challenging part of bringing this from an idea to a big event?

The most challenging thing in the first year was really the nervousness that we would develop the whole program and no one would come to audition. We spent a lot of time that year publicizing the event with flyers and posters everywhere. I remember handing out flyers at the Comfy Cow. I was really fortunate that from the beginning, the JCC and CenterStage staff loved the idea of the program and have been amazingly helpful. I definitely could not do it without their support.

3. What’s the most unusual performance you have ever seen?

There has been such a great range of performances over the past 5 years from Indian dancers and rock bands to a harpist and some magicians. I think one of the most unusual acts may have been a boy who juggled diablo yo-yos. We also had a girl who played a song on glasses. That was pretty cool. One of the most inspiring performances was a blind girl who sang a song she wrote and played guitar. Another performance that really stuck out was a 6-year old boy who break danced. He was so talented and unbelievably cute and actually won the whole competition in 2016.

4. How many hours of work do you put into this event each year?

Putting on LGT takes almost 9 months. There is a lot of stuff we have to do really early on, like secure a location, judges and emcee and then during the period of publicizing the auditions, it is really busy for me. Thank goodness, we now have a committee who has been really helpful with all of this too. Even though I will be away at college next year, the committee will keep the event going.

5. Next year you are attending Yale! Wow! What advice do you have for other high school students on maintaining a high GPA and getting into the college of their dreams?

I think a key thing is following your passions. Don’t try to do every activity that your school offers and play on every sports team. Find what you really love and don’t hold back.

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