Zaylin De’Nae Lee of Swainsboro, has been featured in the latest edition of Showstopper, a biannual publication that features exclusive interviews with the top young dancers, actors, singers and influencers as well as behind-the-scenes looks at everything from new music and movies to Broadway shows.
The local 12-year-old daughter of Sara Young and Carl Lee has been dancing for five years now. Specifically, she practices the genres of tap, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary with Cherry Carruth’s All-star Dance Academy.
A rising seventh grade student at Swainsboro Middle, Lee said she enjoys dancing because it gives her an outlet to express herself and connect with others. She added to that statement, saying she was happy to represent the state of Georgia in the Showstopper.
“I love dancing because I can express my feelings when I dance. I also enjoy helping and working with other dancers because they’re like family to me,” Lee said. “I found out last Monday night that I had been included in the magazine. I was really shocked, but mostly I was happy and excited!”
In order to appear in Showstopper, dancers had to apply by filling out a list of interview questions. Lee did that on her own back in May. A panel reviewed each dancer’s answers and selected one from each state. Lee’s mother was surprised to find out she applied, but that made the honor all the more special.
“Ms. Cherry called me while I was at work, and she was overly ecstatic. She asked me, ‘Why didn’t you tell me!?’ I responded to her, ‘Tell you what?’ Then, she proceeded to tell me the news. That’s actually how I found out,” Young said. “Zaylin was out of town on Tuesday traveling with basketball, so, of course, I called to ask about it. Her response was, ‘Oh, I forgot!’ If you know Zaylin, she doesn’t get too excited and is a very humble child. That’s when she sent me the congratulatory email from Showstopper.
“I was so excited, but mostly proud,” Young continued. “The fact that she went after what she wanted showed me her drive and ambition. For her to be selected out of all the dancers that applied from the state of Georgia and for her to be selected? It’s an indescribable feeling!”
Lee’s feature is on page 11 of the Summer 2021 edition. The interview prompt asked how she aspired to use dance to make a difference in her area. In her printed answer, Lee said, “I want to use dance to make a positive influence in my community by letting them know it’s ok to express your feelings in a way that they don’t know how.” Her inclusion in the magazine also shows her name, age, state, a headshot, and a posed photo.
Lee has collected a handful of awards for dancing over the years. Her solo at the Showstopper Dance Competition earlier this year won first place gold. She has also won the overall Recital Performer Award at recital. In addition, Lee won the Katie Griswold Autism Award in 2019 and has been named Ultimate Dancer of the Year twice, Outstanding Ultimate Dancer once, and Most Improved Soloist once. She has also received two special awards: two memorial crystals, the Brittany Crosby Award in 2019 and the Jaylen Chalker Award in 2021.
Her grandparents include Syvetta Young and Cendy Lee. She is the niece of Rosey Young, Brandy Young, and Wallace and LaSandra Peeples.