As comfortable on stage as on a Harley motorbike, Stephanie La Rochelle, 18, sang her heart out in CBC’s Over the Rainbow and won fans across Canada. Placing second in the nationwide competition, she’s best remembered for her fearless, in-your-face performances of “Cabaret” and “Buenos Aires,” as well as incredibly touching renditions of “Smile” and “Someone Like You.”
Since returning home to Ottawa, this self-described “quiet girl” has been hailed as a hometown hero by city council and made guest appearances throughout the capital region.
I recently met up with this talented young lady and asked about her love of motorbikes, performing, and future aspirations.
She was in Toronto to support Rainbow winner Danielle Wade in her opening night of The Wizard of Oz on stage. The former competitors – showing true Canadian spirit – really were, and are, good friends. In fact, Wade was hosting La Rochelle during her visit.
As for motorcycles, La Rochelle says she finds it extremely relaxing to ride in the backseat of a Harley with her dad. “We love to go cruising around a waterway near our home and sometimes I even fall asleep back there,” she laughs. The kind-hearted soul also admits to once stopping to help a turtle cross the road.
While she has a driver’s licence, she doesn’t yet have a motorcycle licence. “Maybe someday,” she ponders, “because I’d love to ride one of those three-wheeled motorbikes (Can-Am Spyder).”
Her choice for a dream car: “Anything that gets me around,” she shrugs.
Incidentally, dad Paul La Rochelle does occasionally take the passenger seat – on stage, that is. He sang alongside his daughter performing “The Prayer,” complete with Italian lyrics no less, in a Montréal music festival where the duo took first place in their category. Both also speak French, with Stephanie having taken French immersion throughout high school.
“My parents say I was singing before I started talking, and I’ve been performing since I was five,” says this endearing young lady. Past community theatre experience includes roles in Cinderella, The Sound of Music, and the lead in Anne of Green Gables.
She’s since acted in an upcoming CTV pilot called Satisfaction and now has an agent. Undeterred by 12-hour days during Rainbow, she maintains “I love the work and I love performing.”
Canada doesn’t have many homegrown heroes that ordinary folk can relate to, but the extreme hard work, dedication, and class shown by La Rochelle and the other girl-next-door finalists in Over the Rainbow won my respect and that of millions of viewers nationwide.
Ottawa has every right to be proud of Stephanie La Rochelle. Among the many fans who attend her public appearances are young girls and, perhaps more than anyone, young girls need positive role models. If she also happens to ride motorcycles – shattering another common negative stereotype – all the better.
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