FROM CANADA COMES ACTOR, MODEL, MUSICIAN AND DANCER
1 Please tell us a little bit about your background;
A: My name is Saidat Vandenberg. I am a singer songwriter, motivational speaker and children’s entertainer. My mission in life is to make people smile and to help others feel good about who they are and know that they make a big difference in our world when they choose to. I was born and raised in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and have been living in Canada for the past nineteen years.
2 You are an actor, model, musician and dancer. Have you always wanted to be an entertainer or did you aspire to be something else as you were growing up?
A: Since I can remember I have always wanted to be an entertainer. I would rehearse dance numbers and songs for hours in my mother’s basement; I was part of my church choir and dance team as well. In high school I made a goal to graduate from high school, go to college in hopes of one day having my own talk show for children. Today I have what I like to call a “traveling talk show”. Each week during the school year I have the honour to see thousands of students and teach them life lessons through music, dance and drama.
3 Is anyone else in your family and/or relatives in entertainment?
A: My brother who was very instrumental in giving me the confidence to get involved in music is very talented. He produced my first songs and would always let me know if something needed more work. His encouragement and honesty really helped me along the way.
4 Who and/or what are your inspirations?
A: I am inspired everyday by my mother to whom I owe the credit for having a gift to work with children. She is very creative. My sister also helps me be more creative with my style and look in my performances.
I am inspired to give to others - watching Ellen and Oprah change people’s lives with a simple act of kindness.
5 What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: I have a large collection of classic movies from 1934-1990. I love watching movies that are in black and white.
6 Are you formally trained in all your talents. Please tell us about that.
A: I have not been formally trained in my talents other than life experiences with music, dance and drama. I did have the privilege to be heavily involved in my high school choir, church choir and drama team. Just recently I was given the beautiful gift of voice lessons by a very talented man named Brian Ratcliffe and I am very grateful to finally have the formal training in progress.
7 Are you professionally represented or do you manage yourself?
A: I have managed myself until just recently. My partner and fellow entertainer Kristina Zakharyan is now my manager and is doing an excellent job. She is a go getter and has increased our audience and school tours by 70 percent in the last nine months.
8 What have you acted in?
A: I have been involved in commercials for “Not To Kids”. A campaign that encourages adults not to supply cigarettes to minors, I have also been involved in a music video for GoodLife Kids Foundation that motivates children to exercise. I have also produced a short film in which I was one of the main actresses as well.
9 Have you worked alongside any well known names?
A: I had the amazing opportunity to open for Fergie of the 'Black Eye Peas' in July 2008 as well as recently shared the stage at the Teen FAV awards in Toronto, Canada with Brody Jenner as well as Canadian celebrities: Vita Chambers, Danny Fernades, and Sabrina Jalles.
10 Have you ever been bullied?
A: Although I had a few instances with bullying growing up I always share with young people that I had more problems with bullying myself. When someone didn’t like me or said something mean to me I would start turning the rejection inward and call myself names, put myself down which in turn would affect my confidence and how I related to others. I had to learn to believe in myself and not allow the opinion of others to defeat my goal to love myself.
11 Whether you have been bullied or not, do you feel that the governments and schools around the world are doing enough to try to combat this problem?
A: I believe that for the most part everyone in our government and schools really wants bullying to stop and to create an environment and climate of love and respect for our young people. The issues I feel that arise trying to obtain that goal are the limited amount of help that schools have on hand to see what is happening on a regular basis. If we could have more people in our schools hired to specifically assist in helping students deal with a bullying situation or someone that is not already overloaded with work that can take the time to listen and get the right help I believe we would see some changes.
12 What further do you feel the above could do to try to either decrease this problem hugely or eliminate it altogether?
A: I don’t think we will ever see the end to bullying but raising awareness to the problems, teaching and training parents and community leaders how to report situations and on a regular basis give students the workshops and assemblies they need to learn how to deal with bullying will greatly help the climate in school.
13 On a personal level, what would you like to do to help in the fight against bullying?
A: I would like to reach as many students as possible with my confidence building message whether it be through an assembly at their school or through social media, videos and movies. Being a role model for young people is what I would like to be for children around the world.
14 What advice would you give to someone who is going through this nightmare now?
A: Know that you are not alone. Although it feels that no-one understands what you are going through and you feel as if you are the only one, always remember that there are more people who care about you than the one or few miserable people that are trying to make your life miserable. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to tell someone how you feel. When you share how you feel it will start the process of getting the help you need. When you reach out for help you will also be able to feel the love that you need to know is around you. Never give up!
15 As a musician, what instruments do you play?
A: I do not play an instrument unfortunately.
16 What magazines or otherwise have you modelled in?
A: I have not been in magazines for modelling but I have been featured in newspapers and a couple of parent magazines for my program in schools.
17 What sort of dancing do you do?
18 Have you won any awards etc?
A: I have the honor to be the recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Award which is given to a select number of Canadians that make a difference in their communities.
19 What is on the agenda for the rest of 2014?
A: School tours. My goal is to take my program nationwide in Canada and the United States and to gain more fans and supporter worldwide through social media.
20 Is there anything further you would like to add?
A: I appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you.
21 Do you have a special message you would like to share with the world?
A: My Motto is, “One person can make a difference. Together we can change the world!”