When George Matwijec turned on the TV to watch the Super Bowl this year, his primary interest was much more than whether the Broncos or Seahawks won.
Instead, his focus was on the halftime show, where none other than his 10-year-old daughter, Grace Matwijec, was featured, singing “Prepare” among the Kids Choir with superstar Bruno Mars. Grace was one of only 12 children selected from hundreds who auditioned in New York for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“When I got this part, I had no idea that I’d be singing in front of 85,000 people, plus the entire nation,” says Grace, “but I wasn’t nervous at all. I was really excited to have this chance to perform in front of so many people.”
“For the first 30 seconds of the performance, the cameras panned each girl very closely, so you could clearly see Grace,” says George. “I sat in disbelief watching Grace perform on national TV. Our entire family watched her from all over the country.”
Although Grace has had many big roles in the past, she admits that singing during the Super Bowl’s halftime show was by far one of her most exciting moments.
A close second to this performance was Grace’s 2½-month Broadway national tour performing “White Christmas” in eight different cities. During this production, Grace played the principle role of Susan Waverly.
A highlight of performing in this production was that it entitled Grace to receive her Actors’ Equity card while on tour. As an Equity member, she is now a part of the most distinguished body of professional actors and stage managers in the nation.
Grace, who has danced since she was three, caught the acting bug right in her hometown during the Newtown Historic Association’s annual Market Day. While there, a representative from the Newtown Theatre was recruiting young talent. Grace was five at the time that she was invited to audition.
She accepted the invitation, auditioned, and got her first acting role in the ensemble cast of “Meet Me in St. Louis.” From that point, she was hooked on acting. She performed in several more shows at the Newtown Theatre, as well as at other various local theaters. Plus, she performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in the “The Music Man,” and at the Bucks County Playhouse presentation of “Really Rosie.”
In addition to acting, Grace models. Her face was featured on the packaging of Flipeez Hats. She has also done work for American Girl and Spirit Halloween. Grace recently performed in an upcoming music video with a young artist about the importance of respecting the dignity of kids with autism. Despite Grace’s high profile, her parents watch carefully to be sure all this fame doesn’t go to her head, and Grace remains a full-time student.
“It’s important to us that we keep the normalcy in Grace’s life as much as possible, and fortunately, she remains very grounded,” says George. “After taking her bows on stage, she goes home and plays with her American Girl dolls or does her homework.”
George is emphatic that schoolwork always comes first.
“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by spending so much time performing or that it’s changed me,” says Grace. “It doesn’t phase me when people come up to me after a show to ask for an autograph or compliment me.”
George does see many benefits of Grace’s acting experiences. “Her confidence is off the charts,” he says. “If she can sing in front of millions of people at the Super Bowl, she can handle any type of public speaking, and this skill will transfer well throughout her entire life.”
Starting March 8th, Grace will be performing in Lancaster’s Sight Sound Theater’s “Moses,” where she has the role of Young Miriam.
There seems to be no stopping Grace, and that’s just the way she likes it. She says, “Although being in so many performances can sometimes be challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love everything I’m doing.” Her goal is to someday perform on Broadway.
To see for yourself all that Grace has accomplished, visit her blog at bellagracemarie.com.
PHOTO CAP: Grace Matwijec