Prince Royce Pays It Forward With The Dreams Academy: Meet Sprint's First Grand-Prize Winning Artist

Prince Royce and Amanda Almeida
Courtesy of M8 Agency

Prince Royce and Amanda Almeida listening to her video she submitted. 

Prince Royce's musical coming-of-age began in a Sprint store somewhere in the Bronx, where he worked before finding fame and fortune as a Latin pop superstar. Years later, the Dominican artist -- now an award-winning singer-songwriter with a sound all his own that fuses R&B and bachata -- would join forces with the very same company who helped fund his humble dreams of becoming a star. 

In a time where the principles and practices of homegrown talent is lost in the age of the Internet, where music is now produced as fast as its consumed, Royce is paying it forward in an innovative way. Enter The Dreams Academy, an integral component of the #LiveUnlimited initiative designed to assist people in pursuing their life-long goals.

"I continue to work with Sprint, to keep helping the youth and my fans, to keep getting closer to them. We’re going to continue to do this program, and not just in music -- could be entrepreneurs, could be film," says Royce to Billboard on how envisions the growth of the academy. 

The Dreams Academy provides young aspiring artists and innovators resources -- including contests, grants, internships and mentorship opportunities -- to help guide their journey. Amanda da Silva de Almeida, who is from New Jersey and of Brazilian descent, is the first to help launch the program, as a budding musician with a passion for storytelling through singing. From a number of video submissions for a contest that encouraged singers and bands to showcase their unique talent, Amanda was chosen as a top-ten finalist by the public. Royce then hand-picked her as the grand-prize winner. 

"She has that star. She's very shy, but at the same time she’s very determined," Royce explains about Amanda. "I love to see how she was very genuine and that she was just having fun. When I first saw that video of hers -- if you check the video out, there’s two of her on it. One’s singing harmony, and the other one is singing the lead with the guitar. I love that she was able to do different vibes... It looks like she’s just a girl having fun, in her room kickin' it with the guitar."

He adds: "For me, growing up, music was never about the money, it was never about fame. It was always about just doing music and having fun with it, and today I think that’s what stood out for Amanda. She was genuinely having fun with it."

Amanda, at the tender age of 22, was afforded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just earn herself some serious cash, but be mentored by one of today's most beloved artists in the genre of Latin pop. "He’s such a kind, charismatic person, and the lessons I’ve received from him are more from his way of being, rather than what he says," the college graduate says of her new mentor. "I can relate a lot with him, and I think that he came from a humble background just like I did. He has a big underground story. He came from working for Sprint and then he ended up recording his first demo and he exploded. Similarly, I hope to be like him in that way."

A recent recipient of a bachelor's in cellular and molecular biology, Amanda's undergraduate experience helped her prepare for her professional foray into music: "It has made me diligent and persevering, it's helped me push harder for my dreams. It has not been an easy road to receive a bachelor’s and it has not been an easy road to shape myself as an artist."

As previously suggested, Amanda is also the recent beneficiary of $10,000 as the grand-prize winner of The Dream Academy's first contest. As a first generation scholar of immigrant parents, Amanda plans to do some smart investing with her winnings. "We hope that I can pay off my mother’s car," she says, laughing. "But also, really [it's] just opening the doors for me to pursue all my dreams at once. To be able to pay for my school applications in the future -- I’m holding off on that though, [to] pursue music first, get all my dreams in order."

Congratulations to Amanda. To learn more about Prince Royce's work with the academy, visit here.

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