When she is not working with the NBA Style Team or performing as a backup dancer on tour with Prince, you can find model/performer Damaris Lewis mentoring children for the Garden of Dreams Talent Show.
The Talent Show, which stems from a partnership between MSG Entertainment and the Garden of Dreams Foundation, is a program that gives children facing life-altering challenges opportunities to grow artistically and perform at Radio City Music Hall after being trained by professionals such as Lewis.
amNewYork spoke with the Brooklyn native about her experience volunteering her time to help children prepare for their time in the spotlight.
What motivated you to participate in the program?
Three or four years ago, I got asked to be one of the presenters, but I wasn't part of the organization. I went on stage to present one of the groups. After that, I went to someone at the Garden. I was like, "How do I get more involved?" I became a mentor. After that, it went full blown. Now I'm at the audition, the rehearsals and all the stuff in between.
What is it like being a mentor for the children you've worked with?
You don't really realize how a good mood can change a kid's entire life essentially. They're used to being around people who are constantly telling them about the negative things that they have going on. They remind me that my problems aren't big at all compared to someone their age who doesn't have the capacity to take care of themselves on their own.
Which aspect of working with the Foundation has spoken to you the most?
This year the kids are totally different kids from the audition to now. When you can actually see that you're affecting them well before the show, it definitely means a lot. I love seeing improvement because that's what you want: you want these kids to improve in their craft.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from your involvement with the Garden of Dreams Foundation?
The biggest lesson I've learned is that no dream is too small. I think that "Garden of Dreams" is a perfect name for the organization because they do plant your dreams and let them flourish. Kids who probably would have no chance of singing on the stage at Radio City -- they are getting the chance of a lifetime in the matter of a couple of months, and they work hard for it.
If you go: The Garden of Dreams Talent Show is tomorrowThursday at 7 p.m. at Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., 212-307-7171, FREE tickets will be distributed starting at 6:15 p.m.
The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns amNewYork.