At any given time, there has been multiple issues and communities in need of aid. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start when wanting to help out, even more so given the current status of the world. Rita Angel Taylor knows this and adjusts her outlook accordingly.
Rita is currently the youngest ambassador for CARE, an organization that works to end poverty and world hunger. At just twelve-years-old she has already set out to change the world around her for the better.
Her work with CARE started when a mutual friend told Joel Goldman, the Executive Director of Entertainment Industry Strategy and Relations at CARE, about her street performances on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. “Joel told Lori Knight about me and Lori came to see me perform and we stayed in touch. About one and a half years later, Lori became my manager,” explains Rita.
“[Lori] told Joel about my desire to help underprivileged kids around the world and also played him my song, For My Girls.” Joel’s enthusiasm for the song was far reaching as it led him to wanting the song used for CARE’s 2019 International Women’s Day “HER in HERO” campaign. “So CARE invited me to become their youngest ambassador and I was like, ‘What, are you kidding me?!’ Of course I said yes!” her excitement still palpable.
I learned that mental health can affect your life and the people around you in many ways. It can be devastating not only to the person with mental health issues but also to the family members who often don’t know how to deal with it.
Rita would then go on to perform her energetic, fun, girl pop anthem For My Girls at FAO Schwarz for International Women’s Day. It was a fun and exciting experience, according to the singer. “I was a little nervous at first but started to settle down toward the middle of the song. It’s a moment I will always cherish, and I’m grateful to FAO Schwarz, CARE, and my publicist at that time, for the opportunity,” she says as she reminisces about the incredible day. “Looking back at that moment in my life, it’s a little funny to me because I have grown so much as an artist since then and my writing style and genre have completely changed.”
Teenplicity comments to the talented star about the shirts worn during her performance at FAO Schwarz and she says, “Those were CARE shirts the flash mob was wearing. I have one too, and they are so cool!”
Her work with the organization has already brought her out of the country and taught her so much. It has also inspired her to keep working hard and helping others, hoping to spread that desire to her fans as well. “After going to Peru with CARE and learning about all the great work they are doing to empower underprivileged women and girls around the world, I simply fell in love with the organization because they’re the real deal! And, through them, I can now help others which is what I’ve always wanted to do.” One can almost imagine the deep breath she takes in and the awe in her voice as she says of this opportunity, “Wow, what a privilege!”
Rita continues, calling the partnership between herself and CARE a match made in heaven! “Just like CARE, I am determined to bring awareness to ending poverty, as well as other social issues like addiction, mental health, abuse, access to education, family problems, etc.,” she says, planning out some of the issues she hopes to highlight in the future.
Discussing their partnership, she goes on to say, “I think my involvement with CARE will be great for both of us because they help a lot of young people around the world – and I can provide ideas from a young person’s perspective. And although I want to help everyone, I really want to focus on helping kids and young adults first because if we teach my generation that we can do anything we put our minds to, and that we can change the world for the better as long as we get an education and work hard to achieve our goals, then it can help break the cycle of poverty.”
Her work with CARE has taught her to be grateful for everything she has and to take nothing for granted, according to the performer. She says, “Even though helping the poor has always been close to my heart, I have become even more aware of the struggles other people endure, and how fortunate I am to have the opportunities I have through my work with CARE.”
The work she does with the organization takes a great deal of attention and responsibility, which she takes seriously. “Being a goodwill ambassador for CARE means the world to me,” Rita says. “I love absolutely everything about them and what they do.”
Part of her work as an ambassador means raising awareness on her social media channels for important causes, like her recent video about preventative measures everyone can take during the current Coronavirus outbreak, like washing your hands often, and how viewers can help others in need.
“During this Coronavirus situation, CARE is helping the most underprivileged communities by providing them with essential supplies such as soap, clean water, masks, disinfectants, medication, hygiene education, and hygiene kits.” She continues to explain their work during the pandemic, saying, “They are also building hand washing stations and providing food in the event of a supply chain breakdown. For more information, you can go to www.CARE.org.”
For those itching to lend a hand, the starlet offers a few ways to do that. “My fans can get involved by donating to www.CARE.org or downloading my single For My Girls because all the download proceeds go to CARE forever. For My Girls can be found on all online streaming platforms.”
As she moves forward with her work through CARE, Rita is also looking at other ways she can help others.
The performer has written two songs as a way to continue to bring light to issues close to her heart. “Run or Hide and Scars are songs I wrote to hopefully raise awareness for youth struggling with mental health issues.” With the songs still being produced, she hopes that once they are ready she will be able to team up with CARE and/or Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to spread the message.
“I’m not involved with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation but I hope to be someday!” she says. “I have mutual connections with Lady Gaga but I’ve never met her. And I would be very surprised if she knows anything about me,” Rita confesses, though one can never truly know. “But I am a big fan of hers, and she and I share the same passion to help people with mental health issues.” To highlight this, she points out a recent interview that Lady Gaga did with Oprah regarding mental health, suggesting that for those who haven’t seen it that they “really should”.
“She’s an amazing person and one of a few artists who can do it all: sing, play piano, write songs, and produce. She’s definitely one of my inspirations!” the performer gushes. “It would be a dream to team up with CARE and Gaga’s charity – Born This Way Foundation – to help bring awareness to the mental health crises around the world.”
Rita is much like a sponge in the way that she is consistently open to gaining new information to better herself and the world around her. She reaches out to become more knowledgeable and aware. Her work thus far has taught her much. “I learned that mental health can affect your life and the people around you in many ways. It can be devastating not only to the person with mental health issues but also to the family members who often don’t know how to deal with it.” Sounding wise beyond her years and more aware of the social and economic constraints on different people around the world than some twice her age, she explains, “And sometimes it can go undiagnosed because people don’t have the resources to seek help, or they are too ashamed to confront it, or to reach out to someone they know for help.” She breaks down different degrees and vast aspects of mental health issues this can apply to. “It can be as little as thinking bad thoughts or depression, or as big as schizophrenia, or anything in-between.”
A moment of candidness breaks through as Rita explains her personal connection to dealing with mental health issues.
“It was devastating for me to see my uncle Joe, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, live in such agony until he passed away last year, and to not be able to help him.”
She goes on to focus on her peer group. “And the suicide rate for teens and young adults are at all-time highs. I pray to God that I can help make a difference!”
Most importantly, I hope that I have been a great champion for humanitarian causes and that my efforts have helped many young people overcome their problems and achieve their dreams.
As Rita inspires those who follow her, she looks to her parents for her own inspiration. They help inspire and influence her to live life the way she is able to, and to help others. “They educate me. They love me unconditionally and support me in all that I do,” she says of them. “They give me great advice and then let me make my own decisions. They spend enough time with me that I know I’m loved.” She says with a grin, “They also know how to be firm with me when I’m not so good.”
When it comes to her career, the performer looks to some of the women who have redefined the pop scene in recent years and who are continually evolving the genre. “The people who inspire and influence my music and writing style are Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele, Billie Eilish.” She throws in a beloved rock band too. “And Evanescence.”
An entertainer, Rita’s many talents include singing, songwriting, and acting. Performing has been something she has been interested in and practiced from a young age. One of her major musical influences actually inspired her musical interests.
“When I was six, I was on Nickelodeon’s teen sitcom Sam & Cat and got to work with Ariana Grande for one week. I saw her always singing during her breaks and that inspired me to want to sing too.” She explained that Ariana’s decision to focus on her music career instead of acting inspired her to do the same, even at such a young age and, according the performer, with no music experience at all. “After one year of piano and guitar lessons, I wanted to start performing live so my dad called everywhere he could think of to get me a gig but no one wanted to hire a seven-year-old to play for them. Then, I saw a young girl on YouTube performing in front of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.”
That video set into motion the rest of Rita’s career. From there, she asked her parents if she would be able to do that and the family moved to Las Vegas where she began to make a name for herself on Fremont Street. She would perform there every Saturday for two hours. “That’s where I met my manager Lori Knight.” Two years later saw another change for her career. “When I was nine, Lori advised me to get back into acting because it goes hand-in-hand with music. So, we moved to LA and here I am, still doing both acting and music.”
Her experience as a street performer has aided her as she moves forward in her career.
“Street performing is my musical foundation and is probably the best thing I ever did to prepare [myself] for all that has happened to me since,” Rita reveals. “Street performing helped me to develop my vocal style and increase my vocal range because of all the performances I did over one and a half years. It gave me much more confidence in myself because it got me used to performing in front of many people.” She adds another way it has helped her, saying, “I also became a much better piano and guitar player because of all the practice.”
She takes this knowledge and applies it to her performances today. “It most definitely gave me more confidence and taught me how to work the crowd,” she says. “Also, it helped me to understand the importance of commitment and being on time because I performed at a certain time every weekend and people would expect me to be there. And performing for two hours taught me a lot about determination.” Summing it up in the best possible way, Rita gushes, “Street performing has to be one of the best and most interesting times of my life. I loved it!!”
Rita still gets the same rush from when she performed on Fremont Street as she does now, embracing every moment. “I feel very proud of myself as I perform for any one person or for a crowd. While I’m performing, I feel a mix of happy, concentrated, and a tiny bit nervous which is good because it keeps me focused and helps me not to mess up.”
For some performers, they fear messing up in auditions or the entire audition process as a whole. Rita embraces the situation and takes it in stride.
“I love auditioning,” she gushes. “I always try to bring my character to life and it’s so encouraging when everyone in the room likes my audition. I especially love it when they give me notes so I can improve my performance right there on the spot.” When auditioning, she will go out for a variety of roles including comedy. “I love drama, sci-fi, and horror roles the most,” she reveals.
Her dream role, however, is one she already nabbed.
Rita was cast as Lilly Castillo on the NBC pilot La Brea. One of the most talked about NBC pilot scripts of the season, the sci-fi drama follows a family as a massive sinkhole separates them, with one half ending up in world unlike their own.
“I’m so thrilled and happy that I booked a series-regular role on a major TV network, which is a dream come true!” she gushes about the casting. Though it may be a while until Hollywood is back to work full-time, there’s still high hopes for a full season pick-up. No matter what happens, Rita is still looking forward. “Other than that role, it would be really cool to get a lead role in a horror, drama, or sci-fi feature film too.”
When it comes to who may star alongside her in any of her dream flicks, she has plenty of suggestions. “The actors I would love to work with are Scarlett Johansson and Millie Bobby Brown.” If she were able to pick singers and songwriters to collaborate with, there’s no hesitation on her choices either. “The musicians I would love to work with would be Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Adele, and Sia.”
There’s no telling what will happen over the next five years and hopefully Rita has the chance to work with her many inspirations. She does have hopes of what else she would have accomplished over that time span.
“I see myself as a 17-year-old that is hopefully successful in music, acting, and philanthropy. I hope La Brea will be a hit TV show and that I would have starred in some feature films. Also, I have a major label record deal, several hit songs, and I’m touring by then. And, hopefully, there’s an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Golden Globe on my shelf and some gold and platinum records on my wall.” Though these are all great career aspirations, Rita still hopes, most of all, that she’ll do more in aiding others. “Most importantly, I hope that I have been a great champion for humanitarian causes and that my efforts have helped many young people overcome their problems and achieve their dreams.”
Letting her sense of humor slide in, the talented young star can’t help but add, “I also think I will have my own car and know how to drive by then… Who knows,” she says, adding the perfect emote. “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
Perhaps over the next five years she will also get the chance to go to Brazil, a place she wants to tour with her music one day. With an American father and a Brazilian mother, Rita appreciates both worlds that her family comes from. “I love Brazilian music, they have so many different styles. I’m fluent in Portuguese.” She says, proud of her roots, “I love and miss my homeland, and family in Brazil. So, hopefully, one day I will write, record, and release a song for Brazil.”
Rita’s hopes and dreams are no doubt within her reach. She is aware of the hard work it will take and is ready for whatever may come her way. “I’ve learned that I can do anything if I believe in myself and work hard for it.”
“For example, when I was six, I decided I wanted to learn everything I could about piano, guitar, and singing. I became good enough in one year to perform a live, two-hour show because I wanted to do it, and I worked very hard for it. It’s the same thing with my acting. I really work hard for it too and it’s starting to pay off.”
Rita has learned, most importantly according to her, to never give up. “If you believe it, you can achieve it! My favorite saying is, ‘Dream big. Work hard. Stay strong. The world awaits you!’ That’s what I live by, and that’s what I tell others who want to know what it takes to make it in the biz.”
Check out ways you can help others on CARE.org!