It has always been Bekki Callaro's dream to be on stage. After stumbling across an application to MTV's new singing competition series, Copycat, online, she decided to give it a shot.
Breaking from the trail blazed by American Idol, The Voice and The X Factor, Copycat scorns originality, instead rewarding those who best imitate the singing style of their pop star of choice. Contestants compete in a series of "cat fights" to win over a live audience. After each successive round, audience members vote for their favorite singer, who then advances to the next round. At the end of the day, the last copycat left standing earns $5,000 as well as the title of Ultimate Copycat.
"I originally submitted as Adele," explained Callaro, a former Dansville resident now living in Columbia, Tenn. "I said something about my style resembling that of Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj, and they asked me to resubmit as Lady Gaga. They really loved that."
The 24-year-old originally submitted her application Oct. 31, and didn't get final confirmation that she had earned one of the coveted spots until Dec. 23.
"That was a pretty awesome Christmas present," said Callaro, who was at work when she received the news. "I just started freaking out. All my co-workers thought I was going crazy."
Callaro and her family left Dansville when she was "four or five years old," for Tennessee. Whether in New York or Tennessee, it made no matter. Callaro still gravitated toward music.
"I was always involved in music and theater for as long as I can remember," she said. "My dad played in a band, and I always stood in on his rehearsals and was always singing along with him. Any (musical) outlet I could access, I did."
The audiophile sings everything from soul to rhythm and blues to pop music and cites Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and Adele as major influences.
While music is her first love, Callaro remains active in theater, having performed in shows such as "Charlotte's Web," "Singing in the Rain," "Anything Goes" and "Fiddler on the Roof" just to name a few.
"I really cannot explain the feeling I get when I'm on that stage," said Callaro. "It's almost like being home, like this is where I belong. The rush from the audience, feeding off their energy, it's an indescribable feeling."
Callaro is president of Columbia's Center for the Arts, a volunteer organization committed to "promoting a greater awareness in the community of the various art forms and to foster deeper appreciation for the arts."
"We put on everything from live theater shows, talent shows, concerts," said Callaro. "Anything that has to do with the arts."
In addition, she heads up Teens for the Arts, a youth theater program. This is all in her free time however. To pay the bills, she works in the cafeteria of a nearby hospital.
After being notified that she had been accepted on to the show, MTV flew Callaro and her fellow contestants out to Los Angeles. Filming was done Jan. 16, and Callaro was back in Tennessee the next day.
"They shot three episodes the day that I was there," said Callaro. "There were some people there that were really great and that sounded almost identical to the artist, and then you have others where you're like 'I don't even know where that came from.'"
When Callaro's episode runs June 12, viewers will be able to find out whether she convinced her audience that she wasn't Bekki Callaro, 24-year-old up and comer, but Lady Gaga, bona fide superstar. And although she couldn't give away any insider details about the episode, she was able to make a guarantee.
can tell you is you won't be disappointed," she said.