LISLE – One Lisle resident’s drive to try new things has allowed many of her dreams to come true in the first 16 years of her life.
Grace Etzkorn, a sophomore at Benet Academy in Lisle, plays three musical instruments, won a beauty pageant, appeared in TV commercials and a national TV show, toured nationally with a musical and is working with the village of Lisle to start a youth council.
“I’m a really big dreamer,” Etzkorn said. “And I think you should always dream big, because there is so much you can accomplish in life.”
Etzkorn began acting professionally when she was 10 years old. A play she saw at American Girl Place in Chicago sparked her interest in the career, she said.
“I remember being enthralled with the idea of theater and acting and remember turning to my mom and saying, ‘I have to do that someday. That’s what I’m going to do,’” Etzkorn said.
Etzkorn auditioned and was selected to be a part of the American Girl Place play. But she soon took her talent beyond the local level, when she toured nationally with the musical “Annie.”
Film was the next area Etzkorn tackled. Per her request, she received an agent for her birthday and began doing voice-overs and appearances in commercials for companies including Walmart, Wisconsin Dells, Public Storage, Radio Disney and Nintendo.
In 2012, Etzkorn landed her first role on a national TV show: “Chicago Fire.” She first appeared as Sophie, a burn survivor, in an episode that aired Dec. 5, and she will appear in a May 15 episode.
“I haven’t really grasped the fact that I’m on national TV yet,” Etzkorn said. “It makes me feel proud I accomplished something a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do, and I’m so thankful and proud.”
Etzkorn recently has added a competition aspect to her stage presence. On March 23, she won the Miss Chicago Outstanding Teen pageant, which qualified her to compete for the Miss Illinois’ Outstanding Teen title June 26 to 29 in Marion.
As Miss Chicago’s Outstanding Teen, Etzkorn won scholarship money and the opportunity to serve her community, she said. She has been visiting various schools to promote her platform, “Keep the Future Bright - Drug and Alcohol Awareness,” which was inspired by her uncle, who died of a drug overdose.
“It’s all about getting the message out there to prevent others from getting addicted,” Etzkorn said.
Etzkorn and her friends have also been working with the village of Lisle to form a youth council. The council would consist of teens who would work with the Lisle Village Board to make decisions concerning the youth of the community, Etzkorn said.
When she is not acting, Etzkorn participates in choir and French Club, and writes for the school newspaper. Etzkorn is also a first honors student.
After completing her studies at Benet Academy, Etzkorn would like to attend a college in New York or Los Angeles, where she would study either theater or film and continue her acting career. She would also like to study broadcast journalism.
“Dreams can come true,” Etzkorn said. “And with hard work and determination and a big enough dream, you can accomplish anything.”