Reach for the Stars!

TFK learns about A BroaderWay, a foundation started by actors Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel to help girls

Jan 10, 2014 | By TFK Kid Reporter Camryn Garrett
COURTESY A BROADER WAY FOUNDATION

Idina Menzel stars in the Disney film Frozen. The award-winning actress is also known for her performances in the Broadway musical and film adaptation of Rent and the Broadway musical Wicked. “As a young girl on Long Island I was brought into New York City to see Broadway shows,” Menzel told TFK. “For the kids that can’t do that, Disney films could be a good way to introduce kids to the genre.”

Menzel introduces kids to theater through a foundation that she and her Rent co-star, actor Taye Diggs, created in 2010. It is called A BroaderWay. Through programs like Camp BroaderWay, the foundation uses the arts to build self-esteem and leadership skills in girls from urban communities.

TFK Kid Reporter Camryn Garrett spoke with Kristin Quintano, the Associate Director of Camp BroaderWay, about the camp and what it hopes to achieve with its work.

Actor Taye Diggs helps guide campers in performance art.
COURTESY A BROADER WAY FOUNDATION
Actor Taye Diggs helps guide campers in performance art.

TFK:

What is Camp BroaderWay’s mission?

KRISTIN QUINTANO:

To provide a space and opportunity for urban girls to learn to gain confidence through self-expression in the arts, so that they can go back to their communities and speak up for themselves.  

TFK:

How many girls attend Camp BroaderWay?

QUINTANO:

The first summer we took 32 campers who had just finished the sixth grade, and decided that they would make a four-year commitment to the camp. We took 15 new campers to make a total of 60 campers last year.

TFK:

What type of programs does the camp include?

QUINTANO:

We do everything. We swim, and do arts and crafts. We have really unique electives like spoken word, songwriting, acting classes, vocal classes, and a glee elective this year. We’re able to work with the girls in different performance arts directions. We also had storyboarding, where campers put together the playbill for our final show. Creative workers like Idina or Taye work with the kids, but the final concert that the campers put on is all their work.

TFK:

Do the girls perform in musicals, or in other types of shows?

QUINTANO:

There was a talent show, and a session with poetry or spoken word that was all original. During one of the previous shows, Idina wrote a song that the girls sang throughout the concert called “The Tree Song.” It had to do with a tree and all of its aspects: the trunk, the roots, the branches, and what they mean.

We’re growing and expanding with more activities so that we see the girls throughout the year. We went to see How Sweet the Sound, a gospel choir competition, and some of the girls were on Katie Couric’s talk show with Taye. We’re going to have a reunion, and also have some programming around self-expression.

The campers pose for A BroaderWay group shot.
COURTESY A BROADER WAY FOUNDATION
The campers pose for A BroaderWay group shot.

TFK:

How do you hope to change the program in the future?

QUINTANO:

I hope to work with more and more kids. After we’re in the spotlight, I get hundreds of emails from parents who want their daughters to be part of this program. I hope to expand outside of New York City, or maybe have boys involved so that it isn’t just an opportunity for girls. There are a lot of different ways we can change.

TFK:

What do you think is the camp and foundation’s greatest achievement?

QUINTANO:

I love to see kids step outside of their comfort zone, try something new, and take a risk. I feel like a proud parent when I see the kids do something that they’ve been struggling with in a class or rehearsal. To see them step out and feel confident, that’s a really cool thing.