At just 12 years old, Amanda Bass of Xenia is no stranger to the stage and performing live. For almost as long a she can remember, she has been singing, dancing and acting.
“She did a lot of productions with our church from the time she was very small,” said her dad, Kirk Bass, an entertainer in his own right who has been performing as a knife thrower for many years. “She got into acting more professionally over the past three years, and we got her an agent.”
When Amanda was around 8 years old, she started telling her parents, including mom Melodee, that she wanted to be an actress. She convinced her little brother, Kerik, to join her in putting on plays for her family.
Now about the turn 13 years old, she recently served as an emcee at the Plaza Theatre in Miamisburg for a variety show – “Brothers & Co.”, had parts in several student films and recently completed work on several episodes of the ThinkTV program “I Can Be Anything I want to Be A to Z,” which is slated to run statewide this fall. The episodes will be included in a children’s news program called “NewsDepth.” The episodes will also be available online through the ThinkTV website and through PBS LearningMedia, a digital online library. ThinkTV is the local PBS member station.
Bass has also appeared as a dancer in the Dayton Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and is currently appearing in Dare to Defy Production’s “Seussical the Musical” at the Victoria Theatre.
Amanda’s performance on the series caught the eye of family friend, Gery Deer, who is the director and executive producer for the Brothers & Co. Variety Show (which helped her land the gig as emcee for that show).
“The show is geared toward elementary school kids,” said Kirk. “It gives them some different ideas about careers other than the traditional ones. They looked at careers like botanists, electricians and cognitive psychologists.”
Amanda is obviously excited to see her young career blossom and grow.
“Doing the show was really fun,” she said. “I got to know the other cast members, and we became really good friends.”
Amanda attends a K-12 online school, Ohio Virtual Academy, so her flexible schedule allows her time to attend auditions, rehearsals and productions. She worked on filming the ThinkTV show over four weekends.
In addition to her busy acting schedule, Amanda has joined her parents in their western themed knife throwing act, “Bass Blades,” as they attend local festivals and entertain crowds.
“I’ve been competing for about 15 years,” Kirk said. “Amanda got interested in what we were doing with the knives and wants to keep getting better at that, too.”
In addition to the live performances, the Bass household is often filled with the sound of music as Amanda, a lover of musicals, quickly learns the lyrics to most songs she hears.
“She sings nonstop,” Kirk said. “She loved ‘Hamilton’ when she first heard it and had it memorized.”
And the entire family joins in, including older sister, Christina, 17, who also writes plays and harmonizes with her siblings.
As for Amanda, she is having fun performing and as long as that continues, her parents are encouraging her. They have taken her to see several local live performances, including “Wicked” and “The Little Mermaid,” but her dream is to meet Lin Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton) and sing on stage with Josh Groban.
“We work hard on helping our kids stay level minded,” Melodee said. “They know they may not always get affirmation from others about a performance, and it can be frustrating. You just have to know you have done a good job and what you may need to do to improve.”
Kirk and Melodee also encourage Amanda and her siblings to speak up for themselves.
“We are choosy about what we allow her to do,” Kirk said of his daughter. “If she isn’t comfortable with a role, we ask her to tell us and we’ll turn it down.”
Amanda knows that eventually her acting dreams may take her away from Xenia and Ohio to Hollywood or New York City but for now, she is enjoying performing locally and growing up in the place she’s always known.
“I have a lot to fall back on,” Amanda said. “I know there are not a lot of paying gigs here, but I love Xenia and it’s home!”