Southern Utah University alumna, ‘The Greatest Showman’ star to perform at Oscars

Keala Settle, a Southern Utah University alumna, performs in the 2017 film "The Greatest Showman." Settle will also perform at the 2018 Academy Awards on Sunday in Hollywood, California | Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Southern Utah University graduate is singing at the 2018 Academy Awards on Sunday in Hollywood, California.

At the Oscars, Keala Settle will sing “This is Me,” a song she also sang in the 2017 musical film, “The Greatest Showman.” The song was nominated for an Oscar for best original song. Settle played Lettie Lutz, a bearded woman, in the “The Greatest Showman” alongside actor Hugh Jackman.

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In a YouTube video posted by 20th Century Fox, Settle said the first time she performed “This is Me” during the film’s rehearsal she was nervous to sing it.

“There was a moment in the song where I was actually so scared I had to grab Hugh (Jackman’s) hand so I had someone to hold onto,” Settle said in the video. “And then we got to the end of the number, and all I remember was deafening, deafening applause. It was a sort of other worldly experience.”

Settle’s nervousness singing the song the first time didn’t stop her from performing in the film and helping the song win a Golden Globe Award for best original song on Jan. 7. She also performed “This is Me” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Feb. 21.

Before making strides in Hollywood or on Broadway, Settle had roots in Southern Utah. She graduated from SUU with a theatre arts degree in 2016. At SUU, Settle developed her skills as an actress by participating in several theater productions at the university, including “South Pacific” and “Gypsy.”

“You couldn’t keep your eye off her,” said Shauna Mendini, dean of SUU’s College of Performing and Visual Arts. “She’s powerful on stage. I think that what directors have recognized in her – her power. All she had to do was open her mouth and sing.”

Mendini said she has watched Settle and kept in contact with her as she has moved on to performing in Broadway and in “The Greatest Showman.” Even though Hollywood is a “totally different league” than performing at SUU, Mendini said Settle still has the same powerful presence that she exuberated while on stage at SUU. 

The moment in “The Greatest Showman” when Settle sings “This is Me” is one of the best parts of the film and is a breakout moment for Settle, Mendini said.

“There’s no one who will see (‘The Greatest Showman’) and not say that that scene where she sings is that turning point for the entire production,” Mendini said. “That song carries the humanity of the entire production.”

It will be exciting to see where Settle’s career will take her next, whether it be other films or Broadway musicals, Mendini said.

Those interested in watching Settle perform at the 2018 Academy Awards can tune into ABC starting at 6 p.m. MST Sunday. It can also be streamed online on YouTube TV, DirecTV, Sling, PlayStation Vue and ABC Go.

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Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • desertgirl February 28, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Awesome, Awesome.

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