Yunus won the honor for his performance as “Usnavi,” the lead role in Foster’s production of “In the Heights.”
“It’s my favorite musical,” Yunus said. “I was already a rapper and a poet, so a hip hop musical really caught my interest. The story of family and discovering who you are was relevant to me. It all kind of clicked.”
Other than two years in Alief schools, Yunus’ entire education has been at Lamar CISD schools: Huggins Elementary, Wertheimer Middle School, Briscoe Junior High and Foster.
He originally wasn’t that interested in theater when he enrolled at Foster, but after some coaxing, he tried out for “Beauty and the Beast” and ended up playing the villain.
Yunus thinks of himself as an actor who sings.
“When you act, the emotions come from some place,” he said. “If you are in tune with your character as an actor, your singing becomes better. If you don’t believe, there’s no connection, the singing becomes one dimensional.”
Yunus loves how theater can bring the whole school together.
“It’s not only theater students, but the choir and the band, the art department and the ag department built the sets.”
As the winner, Yunus will compete this summer in the Jimmy Awards, a national musical theater contest featuring the 64 best actor and actress winners from around the country. He will study with professors from NYU and then compete on a Broadway stage for a chance for a scholarship to NYU. “We have 10 days of training, then put on a show on Broadway,” he said. “It’s mind-blowing.”
Yunus said he had considered studying engineering, but said he think it would be a discredit to himself.
“It’s what I love,” he said. “It’s what I live.”
Yunus is the son of Adrisman Yunus and Nenny Khaerani.