NYU students showed off their skills at UltraViolet Live, the univeristy’s annual talent competition, on Thursday at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. From a hula hooper who improvised most of her act, to a beat boxer who performs often with his acapella group, there was a wide spectrum of experience and skills.
Host Nicole Byer, an actress and comedian starring on MTV’s “Girl Code,” kicked off the event with a comedy routine. The judges for the night were Lea Delaria (“Orange is the New Black”), Jack Falahee (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Manila Luzon (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) and Brandyn Burnette, winner of UVL in 2009 who is now signed with a Warner Bros music deal.
The grand prize winner was Palladium contestant and Steinhardt freshman Yasmin Williams, who strummed, drummed and plucked her acoustic guitar to create a cacophony of sound, creating the effect of multiple instruments playing at once.
“I still can’t believe it to be honest, I thought they made a mistake,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Guys, stop playing with me right now.’ That was crazy. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Williams said she hopes to make more music in the future and visit different places.
“Going to different places, making more music, it’s what I do,” Williams said.
Each of the 15 acts won a preliminary talent contest within the commuuter community or their residence halls in the New York campus, NYU Abu Dhabi or Polytechnic School of Engineering.
Apart from vocal performances, acts included card tricks by Poly freshman Matthew Beaudoin-Lafon, an original poem recitation by Gallatin sophomore Daniel McCauley and a breakdance-turned-violin performance by Steinhardt sophomore Sam Kang.
In addition to the grand prize winner, who won $1000, there were four category winners who each won $250. Audience favorite was singer Moonie Sohn, a sophomore from NYU Abu Dhabi. Other category winners included Julia Gilson for Best Solo Performance, Sam Kang for Best Group Performance and Austin Davidson and Ben Chavez for Best Group Performance.
Luzon said she found the audience energetic and encouraging.
“The audience was an amazing audience, they all really had a lot of fun,” Luzon said. “It’s nice when you have a bunch of support coming from the crowd. I think everybody really had a great time.”
CAS junior Avanti Rajan said she thought the competition was all deserving of the win.
“I was completely confused because I do not know who I would pick, so it was a wonder that they picked someone,” Rajan said. “Everyone was so talented.”
LS freshman Elizabeth Kuan said the quality of the acts at Utra Violet Live astonished her.
“I thought it was amazing, I was really surprised,” Kuan said. “I didn’t realize NYU had that much talent. I think [Williams] deserved to win, but I think everybody deserved to win, I think everybody did an amazing job.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Mar. 2 print edition. Email Katherine Stein at [email protected]