Tonganoxie teen ready for next act
The "Star Search" television show gave Paula Prosser the chance to change her name.
But the 14-year-old Tonganoxie ninth-grader didn't.
"That's when people change their name," said Paula's mother, Susie Prosser. "There was a place on the contract that asked what do you want to be called and she wanted to use her own name -- she was fine with being real."
Last Wednesday night, Paula competed on the nationally televised show, singing Lee Ann Womack's song, "I Hope You Dance."
The judges gave Paula a total of 18 points, the same number of points received by her competitor, 14-year-old Jeremy Holder from Philadelphia. When the electronically submitted votes were tallied, Paula received 33 votes to Jeremy's 35.
A win would have meant a move to the "Star Search" semifinals and possibly the finals, Susie Prosser said. And, a win at the finals would have meant a $100,000 contract with CBS.
Paula's parents, Buz and Susie Prosser, accompanied her to Los Angeles on the Saturday through Thursday trip.
"It was a wild and exciting week," Susie Prosser said. "It was kind of like going to camp and you get to meet all the other people and they're talented and you're talented."
At first, Paula's goal was just to appear on the show.
But, after her loss to Jeremy, she was disappointed, Susie said.
"Arsenio Hall came up and gave her a big hug afterwards and said, 'Remember what you said -- you just wanted to be on the show,'" Susie said.
However, life goes on and Paula is preparing for her next role -- that of Dorothy in the junior high school's May 2-3 musical, "The Wizard of Oz."
In California, as she will be in Oz, Paula showed her pride in being from a small town in Kansas. The "Star Search" participants can opt to say they're from a larger nearby city, rather than from a small town.
But instead of saying she was from Kansas City, Paula specifically told Arsenio she was from Tonganoxie and even worked with him on the pronunciation of Tonganoxie ahead of time.
Susie laughed at her daughter's sense of humor, and said, "She wanted to see if Arsenio would trip up."