15 minutes of fame?

Lauren Stone

If Raymond Lee has his way, his name soon will be known not only on Northwestern’s campus but across the nation.

Lee, a Communication senior, is one of 10 remaining finalists on NBC’s reality television show “Fame,” a competition between performers hungry for a chance in the spotlight.

“I never even thought I’d have a chance to be on a national TV show,” Lee said. “I’ve been so blessed.”

During each Wednesday-night show, several contestants perform song-and-dance routines critiqued by a panel of judges. At the end of each show, viewers vote by phone to determine which two contestants will be eliminated that week.

The constant fear of being voted off the show does not faze Lee — he is enthusiastic to tell friends and family to cast their votes for him. And though he would love to walk away with the grand prize — a Hollywood agent, free dance training and a recording contract — Lee said he is satisfied to have made it to the final round and to be doing what he loves most: performing.

Lee first realized his gift for song and dance in high school and has showcased his talents at NU performing with Aural Fixation, Boomshaka and in three musicals, “Once On This Island,” “Titanic” and “Evita.”

Despite his performance experience, Lee had never had formal dance training — a considerable obstacle to winning the “Fame” title. But he is taking advantage of the opportunity to work with the show’s professional choreographer, Debbie Allen, who starred in the original movie and subsequent television show “Fame.”

“A lot of people here have had training,” Lee said. “I’ve never been trained for dancing — I took one class at Northwestern.”

Still, Lee’s friend Stacey Kim said she was stunned by Lee’s natural abilities when she saw him at the “Fame” audition.

“The Chicago audition was the first time I’ve seen him perform,” said Kim, a Music senior. “My jaw dropped — he’s an amazing performer.”

Although that was the first time she had seen him perform, it was not his first audition. A self-proclaimed aficionado of reality television shows, Lee previously had tried out for “Real World,” “Road Rules” and “Pop Stars 2.” Despite numerous auditions and rejections, he never abandoned his dream to perform in front of the camera.

Lee praises “Fame” for being “more real” than similar shows because the contestants are as talented and genuine off-screen as they are on-screen.

In the time they have spent off-screen, he said he has developed a reputation as the group’s “wacky” member. Kim said she was not surprised.

“He has an addictive personality,” she said. “If you’re sad he’ll make you smile, and he’s not trying to be anyone, he’s just being Ray.”

Lee said his breakthrough on “Fame” has encouraged him to pursue a career on television, but his ambition does not stop there. As a radio-TV-film student, he also has gained experience behind the camera that will provide him with the skills he needs to pursue multiple goals.

“I want to be on Broadway, get a recording contract and direct,” he said.