As many leading actors and actresses can attest, sometimes there are roles in which performers so closely identify, that, at times, the characters stay with them long after the director calls, “Cut.”
For Old Donation School’s Lila Korkalo, being on stage is nothing new. Though she is only a fourth-grader, Korkalo has been acting since the age of five. Her performing arts career started with dance lessons and quickly transitioned to the stage when she began working with the Hurrah Players, a stage company here in Hampton Roads that provides quality musical theater education for children as well as family friendly entertainment.
From the Hurrah Players, Korkalo jumped to the small screen, where she has starred in regional commercials and television series. Onscreen or on stage, Korkalo has relished her time as an actress.
“It’s fun,” she said. “You get to meet a lot of people.”
In her work, Korkalo has also been exposed to new organizations and causes in the community. Last year, Korkalo was asked to star in a commercial for Save the Children, a foundation that provides care and financial support to children in impoverished areas of the United States.
Dressed in dirty clothes, Korkalo played a young girl, Kaley, whose parents could not afford their family’s needs, Korkalo explained. She spent her time on set focusing on how hungry and alone she would feel as Kaley. Shooting the commercial in a Portsmouth junkyard, Korkalo had a bit of an awakening.
“I felt bad for (children like Kaley) because you need food,” she said. She added that she doesn’t like to go hungry during the day, and she learned there are families who go days and even weekends without food. The thought stayed with Korkalo, especially when she received a check for starring in the commercial.
“You help organizations by donating,” Korkalo said. “Why not give it to someone who needs it rather than buying stuff?”
Korkalo’s mind went back to her school’s annual Quest Community Service Fair. Each year at Old Donation School, students are tasked with researching a local service organization or effort and serving that organization or effort in some way. In the spring, the school transforms its gymnasium to a fair site where students can share what they learned about their selected organization and report on the work they have done throughout the year.
One group of students selected the school division’s Beach Bags program.
“I didn’t pick Beach Bags,” Korkalo said, “but some of my friends did.”
She remembered that the Beach Bags program provides food for students in need who might not have meals at home during weekends or holiday breaks.
“So, we donated to kids who go here,” she said.
Korkalo donated all of her paycheck from her Save the Children commercial to the Beach Bags program.
“We are thankful to have students like Lila in our division who want to make a difference in the lives of their classmates and peers,” said Dr. Amber Rach, VBCPS director of community engagement. “Not only does their support and service help keep the Beach Bags program funded, but also their empathy and compassion embody the spirit of the work we do each and every day.”
Korkalo has more acting gigs lined up for the year, but has cherished the chance to give back.
“It made me feel really good to be helping people,” she said. “It’s important.”
For more information on the school division’s Beach Bags program, visit vbschools.com/beachbags.