ONTARIO – An Ontario woman is following in her mother’s footsteps as a ventriloquist.
Breckelle Miller, 6, who attends First Presbyterian Pre-K, is also a singer and actress. His mother, Kimberly (Yeager) Miller, is an accomplished ventriloquist.
The youngster was recently crowned the winner of the Ohio State American Amateur Talent Competition, receiving Talent of the Year at the Cinderella State Pageant in Columbus on March 14.
Breckelle received gold medals for each of her three performances at the competition and is now qualified to compete in the AAMTC International Talent Competition in Dallas, Texas in July.
The girl debuted her ventriloquism act at the competition earlier this month using her two puppets, Starla the Unicorn and Ellie Belle.
“Breckelle began taking piano and voice lessons last summer at the Richland Academy of Arts with instructor Audrey Lee-Strohm. Over the past eight months, she has learned so much from her instruction and advice and we couldn’t be happier to see how much she has grown vocally,” her mother said.
“Breckelle also joined the Little Black Box Theater at the Richland Academy of the Arts with instructor Megan Williams and absolutely fell in love with singing and performing,” she added.
Breckelle also starred in the upcoming film “Chosen” starring award-winning actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on television, produced by JCFilms. Part of the film will be shot this summer in Mansfield. The film focuses on foster care and adoption.
As a child, former Mansfield Kimberly Yeager made her own sock puppets, imitating TV ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her puppet, Lamb Chop.
As an adult, ventriloquism became a profession for the Madison Comprehensive High School graduate and former Miss Mansfield.
Self-taught by talking with sock puppets
Yeager said she learned ventriloquism using books and tapes from the library.
“I turned socks into puppets and talked to them. I watched Shari Lewis on TV. … I never knew how to make a real puppet like hers, so I played. I got in trouble for writing all my socks,” she said.
Her interest grew in college, and she bought her first mannequin from a pastor at her church who was also a ventriloquist. Yeager sang with her puppet “Karson” when she was crowned Miss Ashland in 1999 and Miss Mansfield in 2000 as preliminaries for the Miss Ohio pageant. She was also crowned Ms. Ohio America in 2010.
Miller was one of five ventriloquists featured in the film “Dumbstruck,” a documentary by director Mark Goffman. The film, released in 2011, chronicles the struggles of five ventriloquists, including Terry Fator, winner of the second season of “America’s Got Talent”.
She no longer has time to perform with “Karson”.
The mother-of-five said she and her husband, Brooks, are taking care of their children’s activities. Bronson is 7 years old; twins Breckelle and Brecken are 6 years old; Brinkley is 3 years old and Briella is 1 year old.
The family attends Crossroads Church on Park Avenue West.
Teaching requires a lot of patience
Kimberly said she enjoyed teaching Breckelle the technique of ventriloquism, which takes a lot of patience for a child to learn.
Kimberly also remains busy serving as a ventriloquism coach for pageant contestants and coaches via Skype two Miss Ohio Scholarship Program contestants whose talent is ventriloquism in the June pageant.
“She loves it,” her mother said.
In the international competition, Breckelle will be required to perform four talents while in the Columbus competition the requirement was three.
Breckelle will be enrolled in kindergarten this fall at Stingel Elementary School in Ontario.
Her mother said that Breckelle sings “morning till night. She dances. She’s in her own little world of rainbows and unicorns. I can’t get her to play football or anything.”
Breckelle’s great-grandmother, Nonny, now 93, held Breckelle when she was 6 months old, and Breckelle carried a bit of a melody like babies do.
“She said, ‘This little girl is going to be a singer. You mark my words,'” Miller said.