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Look: Hooray for Bollywood; Holly de Sylva talks to a Scouse performer with Eastern promise.

Byline: Holly de Sylva

AS a little girl she would watch Come Dancing and make her grandmother waltz around the room with her.

Now Nicola Heldt is enjoying her own taste of stardom after winning through to the finals of a competition to find the next star of Bollywood -the Asian equivalent ofHollywood Over the past weeks viewers have seen Nicola, 20,put through her paces by a team of judges on Channel 4's BollywoodStar, with young performers from all over Britain flocking to Birmingham in a bid to win a place in a Bollywood film.

Over a thousand hopefuls have been through the nail biting rounds,pinning their hopes and dreams on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

``I have always been a performer and I can remember loving music since I was about four,'' says Nicola,from Huyton.

Unsurprising then that she's taking the national exposure in her stride.

``I have already had work in lots of music videos and on Top of the Pops.

``I'vedone commercials and dancing for singers and stuff,I'm also in an r'n'bband.''

At an age when many young people are thinking of college, hitting the town and wondering where their next beer will be coming from,Nicola always knew she would be performing.

So when she spotted an advert appealing to those with Bollywood dreams it was too good an opportunity to miss.

She says: ``I saw the advert for Bollywood Star on TV and thought it sounded good so I called the audition line and they sent me a form and when they told me. I had got through I was really excited.

``When I arrived at the auditions there was a thousand of us. I managed to get through all the heats and was one of the last 22.''

With so many competitors,it is easy to assume the rivals would be scrapping like vultures for the opportunities offered by the judges,but as far as friendly Scouser Nicola is concerned, they are one happy family!

She says: ``Only one person will be chosen to go to Bollywood but all of the contestants got on really well and I made some good friends who I keep in contact with.

``We see each other around at London auditions because many of them are on the same circuits.''

However,not everyone took the rejection as lightly as Nicola...

``One girl who was on the programme was kicking and screaming because she didn't get picked. She was crying and demanding to speak to the judges and I was just rolling my eyes.

``She had obviously never been to an audition in her life because rejections are to be expected,it's part of the job and I'm used to it.''

Nicole seems to have mastered the art of handling rejection but what about butterflies -does she still get nervous before a performance or audition?

``The only time when I was really nervous was when I was on my own in front of the judges because before then it had been all of the contestants performing together,'' sheexplains.

In the build-up to the audition, Nicola began watching Bollywood films in order to develop her dancing style and broaden her knowledge of the lucrative industry. She says: ``I watched the Bollywood films Devas and Taal to get inspiration for a dance when we had to compose our own and I began watching Bollywood films to pick up different dancing styles.''

Although the experience has ignited Nicola's passion for Bollywood,and given her a great time, she won't be jetting off to Bombay just yet.

``It was good fun but I don't think I'llgo into the Bollywood industry because I don't speak Hindi and most of the actors in those films can -but I'll continue with singing and dancing.''

Nicola's family and friends are backing her all the way and,like Nicola,are not fazed by the highs and lows of the road to fame.

She says: ``My family were really supportive and my friends are just used to hearing good news from me every time I see them and they'll say,`What have you been up to?' I have always got some mad news!''

Despite not winning the plane ticket to fame,it seems it won't be long before we spot her on the box again.

She says: ``I'm very busy, whether it's acting, singing, dancing,TV,music or theatre.

``Most of the time I'mauditioning and I have just started singing in a band -there's three of us and we do pop and r'n'b.

``Mind you, wedon't have a name yet -but we're getting there!''


LET'SDANCE: Huyton's NicolaHeldt won through to the last 22 ofBollywood Star
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2004
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