- June 22, 2022
From an early age, Daphne White noticed her daughter’s love of performance.
It was obvious, especially around other people. No matter where her daughter, Abigail Gbadebo, was or how she was feeling, she'd want to make the people around her laugh.
"She loves to share her talents,'' White said. "It's just a matter of investigating what she likes to do and providing those opportunities for her. Whatever piques her interest is what I'm interested in pursuing."
Gbadebo is a 24-year old Sarasota woman with intellectual disabilities who has kept that performative streak throughout her life, involving herself with productions at local theaters when she can.
Eventually, her mother had an idea. Why not have her daughter make a go at performing on stage?
It's gone well. Gbadebo has performed at pageants and competition with the Miss Amazing nonprofit, which provides opportunities for girls with disabilities in the hopes of raising their confidence and improving their sense of self worth. A large component of the group's work involves events in which Gbadebo and other girls with disabilities showcase skills and talents to a crowd.
"It's fun, I like it a lot," Gbadebo said. "I like to do monologues and to (introduce) myself, I like movies and being in shows."
Gbadebo recently was crowned the Miss Florida representative for Miss Amazing and will go on to compete at the National Miss Amazing 2022 summit in Nashville on Friday, July 29, where she will deliver one of her favorite monologues to an audience.
It's an excerpt from the classic musical 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in which Lucy reflects with Linus on what she wants to be when she grows up.
"Lucy wants to be a queen," Gbadebo said. "I'm doing this for fun."
White hails from New York but has worked her way down the east coast with her children, staying in Georgia and North Carolina throughout her life.
She says her daughter tried dancing and archery, but always came back to entertaining. "She used to tell me when I was young and she'd put her shoes on the wrong feet, she'd say 'Don't worry Mom, they're my feet,'" White said.
Gbadebo has kept the performance streak going in Sarasota, participating in productions with Venice Theater and the Special O' Laughics series at McCurdy's Comedy Theater.
Gbadebo work hard together to get her monologues right, beginning with memorization and then working on the finer points.
"It's reading, reciting, and reaching the point where she can put character and movements into it," White said.
"I like plays and little skits," Gbadebo said. "They make me laugh."
Gbadebo first became involved with Miss Amazing in 2012 in Georgia — where she sang a song — but her time with the organization didn't end there. She later represented North Carolina where she delivered a monologue during a National Miss Amazing tournament in Los Angeles in 2015. Both she and her mother are excited to return to national competition.
Gbadebo recently competed in the Miss Amazing Florida competition in Orlando and, to her delight, won and moved on to the national competition.
Gdadebo says she enjoys theatrical trappings that go along with performance: the bright costumes and outfits with tiaras and sashes. "I like walking around (on stage)," Gbadebo said. "I like taking photos in the pretty dresses."
White said she's willing to do anything to keep her daughter happy and making progres.
"I just feel like she's going in the right direction," White said. "The fact she's been involved for years in different capacities and she has success in this area makes her want to do it even more. I'm just proud of the development she's had over the years and grateful she has a venue to perform what she enjoys."
"I just think 'Let's do it'," Gbadebo said. "Let's get it done."