A photo of Ana sitting in front of her laptop. Ana Perez is one step closer to realizing her Broadway dreams.  
While at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Fullerton earlier this year, Perez, 22, auditioned for the Open Jar Institute Broadway Intensive. Open to high school and college students from around the world, only 60 people are chosen for this prestigious program — and for 2020, Perez was one of the talented performers selected.  
When Perez saw the email letting her know she had been picked, she was eating dinner with her parents. "I started crying and they asked, 'What's going on?'" she said. "I had to fill them in because they didn't even know I had auditioned."  
The Big Bear resident has always loved performing, especially in front of a live audience so she can instantly see their reaction. She started in show choir in the first grade, and after she enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College as a theater major, she branched out from singing and acting and became interested in the technical aspect of productions, exploring costuming, sound design, and makeup.  
"I like staying active and learning as much as I can," she said. "I try to take advantage of everything."  
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Open Jar Institute Broadway Intensive was moved online. In late July, Perez spent a week taking masterclasses and workshops taught by Broadway professionals, including actors, directors, choreographers, casting directors, and agents involved in Hamilton, Hadestown, Big Fish, and other major productions.  
"We also got audition tips from people already on Broadway, which was like being given cheat sheets," Perez said. "That was pretty cool."  
The students were able to ask the professionals questions, and it was "really cool talking to people about what I want to do," Perez said.  
The plan now is for the students to go to New York City next summer for the in-person Open Jar Institute Broadway Intensive, and Perez's goal is to move to New York, so she can further her education while auditioning for shows.  
"I have loved working with the California Theater and other projects," she said. "Community theater in San Bernardino is amazing, and hopefully I can branch out into other things."  
Perez is grateful for the theater arts team at Valley, and said instructor Melinda Fogle is "the reason why this all happened. She fought for all of us to go to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and helped me grow as an actor and performer and technical designer. She made all this happen — if it wasn't for her, I don't think I'd be able to do all this."