"I started out just posting videos, trying to challenge myself to sing in front of people," says Alex Heinen 02F.
It turned out to be a lot of people. Started in 2007, Heinen's YouTube Channel has over a million total video views.
As her username suggests, Heinen sings Broadway hits from 1920 through the present. As her popularity on YouTube might also hint, her voice is spectacular.
"Over the years my audience just seemed to grow and grow," Heinen recalls.
It recently reached a tipping point: "I've had some offers to privately audition for some reality shows," she says. "America's Got Talent was one of them. I was also offered [an opportunity] to join the chorus of a musical workshop with Wayne Brady. That was really flattering." Heinen has also received press attention, including an interview in the Huffington Post in February.
YouTube comments can be brutal, and Heinen has faced harsh remarks on the site about her weight. Recently, Heinen has acknowledged the potential effect that she can have with her videos' popularity, by posting occasional videos of herself addressing personal topics.
Her video about weight loss begins, "I know I have a lot of younger people watching this channel, and just because you're bigger - if you're bigger - does not mean that you are ugly. All being bigger means is that you're bigger."
Heinen studied musical theatre at Hampshire, and notes former Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Davor Diklich's encouragement as "a big contribution to gaining confidence as a performer."
Heinen lives in central Illinois, and has recently been cast as Catherine in a local production of David Auburn's Proof.