January 2021

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

him on every time he is on stage,” said Joni Wright, owner of JGDC. Tray now lives in Houston, where he is majoring in dance and training at a studio called DanceZone. “My biggest challenge with dance would have to be believing in my process and seeing my growth because sometimes I beat myself up about how well I think I’m progressing,” he said, but “moving to Houston to continue my craft has really pushed my artistry.” Tray has won many awards, and he recently received over $3,000 in scholarships through the New York City Dance Alliance. It’s the constant support from his family that has made all the difference in Tray’s pursuit of his dreams. His family includes his mom, his stepdad, two older sisters and his twin brother. “My Mom would have to be the main person who inspires me,” he said. “For many years, she was a single parent and even had three jobs at one point. Fast forward, she has decided to go to college at 54 and continues to support my brother and I in full.” It’s her example which has encouraged Tray and his siblings to dream big and to pursue their goals wholeheartedly. They do that knowing they have a loving and supportive family behind them. They are a close family and spend time playing games and even dancing together, which is often chronicled for all to see through Tray’s social media. These often viral videos show the deep appreciation he has for all of them. Dancing is not the only place where Tray shines. He has also become a social media phenomenon, with his Instagram account @tray.taylor1 having 147,000 followers. TikTok, however, is where he really stands out as a social media powerhouse. He has a verified account, @schoollunchtray, where he posts dance and comedy content for his 3.1 million followers and where he has received over 147 million likes on his videos. “I don’t really know how I blew up on Instagram/ TikTok,” he said. “I just posted what made me feel good and people love when people are authentic to themselves.” Putting yourself out there for the world to see requires that authenticity and a vulnerability, in addition to the creativity and dance talent, which make Tray’s

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C OMM U N I T Y & C U L T U R E

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