Long Island native Debbie Gibson talks about her experience as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice and her work with the Gibson Girl Foundation.
When first approached about appearing on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, singer/songwriter/actress Debbie Gibson respectfully said no. The offer was made after an exhausting string of work, including filming a SyFy film, and she thought, “If I take on this show without my ducks in a row, I’m going to be exhausted.”
Then Gibson reconsidered. “If I said no to the show, I’d be saying no to getting exposure for this charity,” she said in reference to Children’s International. Gibson is a sponsor for the charity, whose mission is to serve poor children in eleven nations throughout the Western Hemisphere and Zambia in Africa, who are often underfed and lack educational opportunities.
“If they can do this everyday, I can spend four months filming a reality tv show,” Gibson added, comparing her own expected exhaustion to that of the poor mothers and children who struggle to survive each day. At that point, the decision was pretty simple.
Winning $50,000 for her charity was the highlight of Gibson’s time on the show. Meeting and working with an eclectic group of people comes in as a close second -- Gibson describes almost every one of the Celebrity Apprentice colleagues as her "buddy,” including Audrey! She even describes Donald Trump - “Don” - as “warm and giving,” and when she calls him, he answers directly. (Photo by Troy Smith)
Gibson, a Merrick-native, stills holds the world record as the youngest female to ever write, record and perform a number 1 single, for her smash hit “Foolish Beat.” Her first album, Out of the Blue, released in 1987, made it to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became triple platinum within a year.
Since then Gibson has gone on to release eight additional albums, and starred or appeared in eleven television and independent films. Gibson has also had a dream-like career on Broadway, starring in productions of Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Gypsy. She has also performed on many international stages, performing theater in London and her original music throughout the world.
Despite her myriad successes in the music and television industries, Gibson’s most important starring role is at the Gibson Girl Foundation. For many years Gibson has produced a not-for-profit summer music education program called Electric Youth. She found that many parents could not afford to cost of the program, and decided to create a scholarship fund for underprivileged children who display a musical talent and desire to perform to attend the music program of their choice anywhere in the country.
“My parents were those parents, so I was one of those kids,” Gibson recalls. For Gibson, there's nothing like seeing kids, some who come to her camp with self-esteem issues "rocking out" by the end of their programs. Last year, Gibson Girl Foundation funded music education for three students.
The Gibson Girl Gala will be held at Oheka Castle in Huntington on May 21. One of Gibson’s scholarship recipients, also a native of Merrick, who received a year’s worth of viola lessons, will perform her debut at the event as a showcase of the foundation’s impact on budding musicians. Tickets for the event can be purchased via PayPal or by check at GibsonGirlFoundation.org.
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