Celebrating 10 years of Genfactor: a talent show that teaches young people essential life skills

Genfactor was created in 2009 by Gentoo Group to give young people living or studying in Sunderland the opportunity to develop their talent. Since its launch in 2009, the annual talent competition, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, has given those aged between 11 and 18 the opportunity to showcase their talents, whilst assisting to build their confidence and self-esteem.

Ashleigh Powney is Communications Assistant at Gentoo

Ashleigh Powney is Communications Assistant at Gentoo

28 May 2019

By taking part they learn new skills, meet new people and gain confidence performing in front of a live audience. To date, more than 1,200 young people have auditioned since the competition was created.

This year’s Genfactor winner, Riona Sorianosos blew judges away with her powerful performance of Whitney Houston’s 'I Have Nothing'. Here, she shares her thoughts on what makes Genfactor special.

“I love to sing,” says Riona. “Before taking part in Genfactor I wasn’t confident of the way to deliver a song. I often felt very shy whenever I sang in front of an audience.

“My self-esteem really soared to its highest level when I won the Genfactor. It was an affirmation that, yes, I can sing and the Judges liked my performance. My self-confidence developed in such a positive way - I am no longer timid when I sing and I feel good about myself.

Photo credit: Dan Aziz Productions

“I am very grateful of the opportunity it has given me. I am also thankful to everyone who supported me during this wonderful experience.

“To Gentoo and Genfactor Team I salute you. You have opened the door for young performers in Sunderland to showcase their talents and to develop skills for personal growth.

On making it to the final 14, Riona added: “I was over the moon when I found out I was in the finals. But this put a lot of pressure on me. I have a very hectic schedule due to school and swimming.

“I train six times a week with morning and afternoon sessions and competitions most weekends. Time has been very precious to me, but with the help of my parents, vocal coach, swimming coaches and friends I remained determined and motivated. They are the backbone to my achievements and I’m very thankful to them.  

“The rehearsals for the final were really fun and I got to make new friends and see all of the finalists for the first time. At first I was really nervous and shy, but once I got to know everyone I was fine.

“Everyone was so talented which felt intimidating, but everybody was so friendly, so I didn’t feel nervous anymore.

“In rehearsals, we did fun vocal warm-ups and physical warm-ups. We also did a lot of team activities which made us grow closer. Everyone was so supportive of each other and it was such a friendly environment to be in.

“The night of the final I felt energetic. Everyone backstage was very supportive and very comforting. I knew that we had to give it our all.

“At the beginning of the night I wasn’t expecting to win because the talent was so good. I thought everyone deserved to be placed.

“When I heard the runner up get announced I still wasn’t expecting to win. Then I heard my name announced as the winner - I didn’t know what to do or what to say I was very shocked and amazed.

“The whole Genfactor experience has changed me and increased my confidence. I learned to challenge myself, develop my skills and most importantly believe in myself.

“I will forever be grateful to the Genfactor team for this amazing opportunity - I am a better Riona because of my Genfactor journey.”

To find out more about the Genfactor visit www.gentoogroup.com/genfactor

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