Bright Future: Young Natchez actor gains confidence on the stage

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018


NATCHEZ — Zaide Paine, a fifth-grader at the former Trinity Episcopal Day School, said he has gained confidence the past couple of years acting in lead roles for Natchez Little Theatre productions.

Paine conquered the jungle in the lead role of Mowgli in NLT’s “The Jungle Book” last year, and he ruled as the king of Africa in NLT’s “The Lion King.”

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His debut was as Mowgli, and to his surprise, Paine said, he won three awards for his first acting experience.

“It was a very fun experience,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to win any awards and when I did I was very excited.”

Layne Taylor, the Executive Director of NLT, said Paine dominated the stage as best youth actor, best actor and best debut by an actor.

“He beat both children and adults (in the last two awards),” Taylor said. “I was happy to lose to him for best actor.”

Paine said his adventure on stage was inspired by his grandmother, Sue Burkhalter, who had been actively involved with NLT herself.

“My grandmother … encouraged me to do a bunch of things,” he said, “and she pushes me to try new things.”

Paine went on to star as young Simba in this summer’s production, “The Lion King,” which opened last Thursday and sold out of tickets for each performance.

Paine said he experienced personal growth while acting this summer.

“For the Lion King, (acting) wasn’t that hard,” he said. “It didn’t take me very long to learn the lines. I did practice a lot and I did my best. … I felt like I acted a lot better and felt more confident in myself and had more fun.”

Paine played basketball at Trinity and said he will start his sixth-grade year at Adams County Christian School in August.

He is the son of Jonathan Paine, Laura Burkhalter and stepmother Lindsey Paine.

Zaide Paine said he loves acting, sports and singing.

Zaide Paine is actively involved in New Covenant Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church.

Zaide Paine said he is still deciding what he wants to do when he finishes school and said he would like to continue acting and play for a college sports team. Acting presented a challenge for him at first, he said.

“One big challenge was to go out on stage in front of 100 people,” he said. “I was very nervous. … Just believe in yourself. If something is hard, don’t give up. Just keep going.”