BWW Interview: CEO Griff O'Neil Discusses WCOPA Championships Set to Open in LONG BEACH JULY 8

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Singers, dancers, actors, models and instrumentalists will compete at the 20th Annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) July 8 - 17, 2016 in Long Beach, California. This international meet is often cited as the official "Talent Olympics" for performers and is the only event of its kind!

Performers are selected from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and South Africa. Contestants will be vying for the gold and scholarships and prizes from New York Film Academy, New York Conservatory for Film & TV, Millennium Dance Complex, LA Models, Oleg Cassini, Indasoul Records and CSM Words/Music.

WCOPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Griff O'Neil took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk to us. He describes in detail for our readers about the championship, how it got started, what participants and specific categories it includes ... and its overall uniqueness as a worldwide event.

Tell me briefly in your own words what the championship is all about. What is the main purpose?

Our mission statement: To create the ultimate, international Olympic-style competition for performing artists with an emphasis on accurate, professional "Hollywood" entertainment industry education and experience. Aspiring talent around the world dream about "going to Hollywood." So, this nine-day event provides an experience beyond belief which includes: the renowned "Worldstars Boot Camp" - a full day of workshops by experts from the industry, a colorful "Parade of Nations" (similar to the Olympics) in which participants from each country proudly display their nation's flag and wear representative national costumes, Worldstars Village nights (evenings of fun and "meet and greets"), preliminary and semifinal competitions, a day of "go-sees" (every contestant has the opportunity to meet with industry personnel - managers, agents, record label reps, etc.), the spectacular live webcast of the finals (finalists compete for the World Champion titles in each competition category plus the coveted two prestigious WORLD titles: Junior and Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World are awarded), and this one-of-a-kind event concludes with the exciting Awards Ceremony (gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in the various categories of competitions).

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Is this year the biggest list of countries participating? Wow! 61, I counted.

Yes, sixty-one countries are projected to be represented this year. This is definitely a monumental year for all as WCOPA celebrates its 20th anniversary!

What contests in the performing arts are presented? I know dance is one. What others?

There are six (6) categories of competitions in the junior (ages 15 and under) and senior (ages 16 and over) divisions in solo and group: dancing, singing, acting, modeling, instrumentalists and variety arts

What kind of spirit do the contestants bring with them? Is it an excitement similar to the Olympics?

There really is nothing to compare with the unforgettable expressions of awe, excitement and amazement on the faces of these fantastic achieving artists from throughout the world. Again, going to "Hollywood" is a dream for so many... the first time to visit America... add to that, meeting and competing with talent from all over the globe... getting priceless education and tips from industry experts... all is truly a rare, precious gift!

Tell us in detail what the winners will take with them as prizes.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded along with cash and prizes, a recording contract, an Oleg Cassini gown for the female model winner and tuxedo for male model winner, and a total of $480,000 in scholarships which includes the famed Millennium Dance Complex, New York Film Academy, New York Conservatory for Film and Television!

BWW Interview: CEO Griff O'Neil Discusses WCOPA Championships Set to Open in LONG BEACH JULY 8

You must have a great sense of pride in this. Give us a little background as to how it all got started.

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It really is amazing to me how this all evolved. Previously, as an executive with Miss Universe, our live telecasts (during my tenure the TV specials were on CBS and fully sponsored by Procter & Gamble) were produced in various countries around the world. Since Miss Universe was a beauty pageant only (no talent was involved), we would go in advance to each respective host country and select exceptional talent to perform on the show.

It was during this time I realized that so many opportunities and unique experiences appeared to be happening only for sports and athletes and nothing really for aspiring performers and entertainers. Thus, when my term with Miss Universe ended, I spent time meeting with experts, researching and discussing "the tricks of the trade" so that eventually a non-political, truly independent World Championships for talent could be created and launched.

The first World Championships for Performing Arts (WCOPA) occurred in 1997 with only 16 countries and 100 contestants. Now celebrating our 20th anniversary with 61 countries to be represented and nearly 1,000 participants is indeed a dream come true! This could never have happened without the brilliant team of executives and staff that organizes and produces the event, most of whom have been with me the entire time.

What celebrities continue to be involved in WCOPA?

Additionally, over the course of the 20 years, the Performing Arts Hall of Fame was devised so as to honor and induct at WCOPA celebrities and VIPs who have contributed to the performing arts such as Liza Minnelli, Justin Chambers, Jaclyn Smith, Michael Bolton, Dionne Warwick, Daniel Lamarre (President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil) and many others. Also, the International Worldstars Association was established as the first and only international organization for artistes and followers of the performing arts to provide unmatched benefits for its privileged members such as online education, training, career tips as well as invaluable products, services, enlightening and inventive concepts. Yes, as they say this is history... but more importantly, it's the chance for a future for so many!

BWW Interview: CEO Griff O'Neil Discusses WCOPA Championships Set to Open in LONG BEACH JULY 8

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