ASUCI hosted its 10th annual premier talent show competition virtually for the first time on March 4. The talent show was organized online on the ASUCI website, which gave students the option to watch all of the acts in order, or scroll to their favorite acts and watch those over again.
Co-Soulstice League Captain and fourth-year physiological science major Maison Tran described the virtual format of the event as a “different environment” in an interview with the New University.
“There was no live crowd reaction, it was like going to a movie theater without an audience,” Tran said.
Tran and fellow Soulstice League Captain Curtis Ung, a third-year computer science major, were in charge of developing the sketches in between each of the talent acts. “Normally we have 12 total sketches, but this year we were limited to only seven,” Ung said.
According to Tran, though the Soulstice League had dedicated film weekends, it was difficult to meet-up and film sketches normally due to COVID-19. Additionally, not everyone was living in Southern California. For example, Ung lives in the Bay Area and was only able to make it down for one weekend to help produce some sketches, leaving Tran to oversee most of the sketch work in-person.
“Normally, we have weekly meetings [in-person],” Ung said. Due to the pandemic, all of their meetings were held virtually via Zoom this year. “Nonetheless, we are proud of all the work we produced.”
Ung and Tran had the final say in what was made, but most of the sketches were produced and pitched by the Soulstice League members.
“We had around 20 pitches,” Tran said, “but we eventually had to narrow it down to seven.” Each sketch was assigned dedicated editors and was put together and displayed online during the unveiling of the talent show. The sketches can also be found on the Soulstice League Youtube channel released in chronological order.
For the talent portion, “[t]his year’s virtual show had to accommodate a whole range of different factors,” ASUCI’s Student Talent Co-Commissioner Insiya Gunja said. “We could not host in-person auditions, we could not sell tickets for our show, we could not have a live audience that our acts could take in energy from, and our judges had to preview the acts and give their feedback to acts privately, not live.”
“[Auditions] had to be more creative with the video they submitted for the show, where they would have limitations if they were in-person,” Gunjasaid. “Soulstice is and always has been a show full of talent, art and passion, and even if we could not hold it in person, we still hoped to emulate that same feeling in this year’s virtual show.”
Each act submitted an audition video then was selected by the Student Talent Commission to participate in the show. “Afterward, we sent each act’s video to the judges who scored and provided feedback for each act. These score sheets ultimately determined which talent acts won each category and the overall winner of the show,” Gunja said.
Each talent act met directly with the judges via Zoom to discuss feedback of their performance. The featured celebrity judges were actor Cody Linley, most known for his role in “Hannah Montana” as Jake, Hannah’s main love interest, actor Jason Earles, who is best known for his role as Hannah Montana’s lovable brother, actress Kelley Jakle, most known for her role as Jessica in “Pitch Perfect” and singer and actor Kendall Schmidt, most known for his role in the band and popular kid’s TV show, “Big Time Rush.”
“The talent acts were also given the opportunity to ask the judges questions and seek advice about the entertainment industry, their careers and their experiences. We took some of the judges’ amazing responses and compiled them into a video that was presented as part of the final Soulstice show,” Gunja said.
“The talent acts meetings with the judges was a special, life-changing Zoom call experience for the talent as well as the members of the Student Talent Commission,” ASUCI Student Talent Co-Commissioner Connie Nguyen said.
“My favorite part of the event this year was not the event itself but the process,” Nguyen said. “Watching auditions and meeting with our commission each week since last May created such special memories for us and bonds that we will keep with us even after graduation.”
“What I am most proud of, is that the Student Talent commission, which consists of three commissioners and seven interns, worked together, tirelessly, with the talent, the professional staff at UCI and the League to realize our vision of producing a show that highlighted the original and diverse talent of UCI,” ASUCI Student Talent Assistant Commissioner Joshua Ma said.
“Soulstice is and always has been a show full of talent, art and passion, and even if we could not hold it in person, we still hoped to emulate that same feeling in this year’s virtual show,” Gunja said.
Winners of the competition included: the singing group Uniting Voices, who won the overall talent competition and People’s Choice Award; Destinee Alera, who won the solo/duet category; the Chinese Association Tricking Team, who took home the award for best dance category; Lauren Wong, who won the comedy category award; and Andaaz, who won the acapella category.
“Every single anteater at UCI has some skill or talent. Soulstice auditionees have the courage and desire to share theirs with all of us and for me, that is so inspirational and heartwarming. I am so honored to provide students a platform to shine,” Gunja said.
James Huston is a Campus News Intern for the Winter 2021 Quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org