I’m a Tulsa Kid: Ella Phillips
Book Drive Leader
Rocking a crown and making a difference, last year’s Miss Outstanding Teen Tulsa, Ella Phillips, initiated a book drive and formed Oklahoma Teens Unite. Taking her passion for reading and radiant personality, Ella set out to collect book donations and raise awareness about the problem of illiteracy among Oklahomans. To date, Ella has raised over 8,000 books and counting.
Ella Phillips. Photo by Sheeba Atiqi.
TK: When were you crowned Miss Outstanding Teen Tulsa?
Ella: I was Miss Tulsa’s Outstanding Teen for one year, from July 2018-2019. I was crowned Miss OCU’s Outstanding Teen this past October. Oklahoma City University would be a dream school for me. They have one of the top musical theatre programs in the nation, so being able to represent such a highly acclaimed school is a huge honor! Along with having the amazing opportunity to represent OCU, I also won a full year in tuition!
TK: How did you come up with the idea for the book drive?
Ella: I’ve had some amazing mentors in Dr. Amy Emerson and Mrs. Heather Cobb. Through my talks with them, we came up with the idea of what has now become Oklahoma Teens Unite.
TK: Who all did you recruit to help with the book drive?
Ella: I started off recruiting friends I had at different schools and getting more high school students involved through the relationships I had through them. Now it has grown to where people are contacting me to be a part of it, which is very exciting! Anybody who would like to help or get involved can reach me through our Instagram, @oklahomateensunite!
TK: How many books were collected and who were they donated to?
Ella: Over 8,000 books were collected and they were donated to Reach Out and Read and Women in Recovery.
TK: What is your favorite book?
Ella: Well, I love the Broadway actor Andrew Ranells as well as Elton John’s biographies, but my all-time favorite is Phantom of the Opera. The hit Broadway musical was actually based off of the book Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux. When I visited Paris this past summer, I got to visit the opera house that was written about in the book, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
TK: Do you have a favorite spot in Tulsa to find books or read them?
Ella: I’m actually a homebody, and I love just reading a book at home in my room.
TK: Do you have any advice for others who’d like to give back to the community?
Ella: You are never too young or too old to make a difference!
TK: Who inspires you?
Ella: Addison Price, our current Miss Oklahoma. This past year she has had a huge impact on my life. Addi has been a mentor to me this past year and has pushed me to be a better person. Addi is the most driven person I’ve ever met as well as having the mindset that there is always something new to learn. I’m so thankful to have someone like her in my life.
TK: What are your other hobbies?
Ella: I love performing in community theatre! Singing is my passion and getting to share it with an audience of people willing to listen is the best feeling.
TK: What are your plans and goals for the future?
Ella: I’m hoping to obtain a degree in vocal performance and musical theatre from a performing arts college. Manhattan School of a Music and Oklahoma City University are two of my dream schools.
TK: What is a fun fact about you?
Ella: I have performed in 13 musicals, four professional operas, and three plays. I’ve had the privilege of singing on stage with the opera icons Leona Mitchell, Sarah Coburn and Kristen Chenoweth!
A Book Drive Message from Ella:
Please donate books from March 1 – 31, 2020, at these locations:
Edison Preparatory School, Booker T. Washington, Regent Preparatory School, Metro Christian Academy, Bishop Kelley, Eleanor’s Bookshop in Mother Road Market, and businesses and schools are being added daily!
These books will make a huge difference in the lives of children all over Oklahoma. One in every five Oklahomans is functionally illiterate. Thirty-six percent of fourth graders in Oklahoma lack basic literacy skills. A student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school. We are hoping change these statistics by getting books into the hands of children.
If your school or business would like to get involved, go to www.reachoutandread.org/affiliate/oklahoma/