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Talent show brings Seminole Gaming employees together

By Kathryn Stolarz

HOLLYWOOD — Seminole Gaming employees watch patrons win big every day, but once a year staff get a chance at a prize that involves more than luck.

Singers, a rap artist and even a magician took the stage on July 30 to vie for the Seminole Superstar title during Gaming’s talent show. Employees from six Florida Seminole Gaming properties competed in the eighth annual event, held at Hollywood Hard Rock Live.

“We come together as one big family,” President Tony Sanchez Jr. said. “These are the people that make it happen for the Tribe.”

Each location held semifinals before sending their first-place winners to the finals in Hollywood.

The overall winner, Hollywood Hard Rock employee Ebone Robinson, took home a $5,000 check for performing a rap she wrote titled “Tha Cypha.” Friend Janyl Torres accompanied her for the opening act. Although Robinson admitted she was nervous to perform for hundreds of attendees, she said it was worth it.

“I can’t even tell you how I feel,” she said after winning the title. “I am extremely excited.”

Although only one contestant took home a prize, the judges – professionally hired “American Idol” look-alikes – agreed that a lot of talent graced the stage.

“The contestants always amaze me,” Simon Cowell impersonator Craig Sleziak said.

During the finals, four other singers competed: Tampa Hard Rock table games dealer and 2009 Seminole Superstar winner Kelvin Williams, who sang “A House is Not a Home” by Luther Vandross; Brighton Casino human resources specialist Mackenzie Johns-Bowers, who sang “Don’t You Wanna Touch Me;” Hollywood Casino floor supervisor Rosa Ortiz, who sang Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’;” and Immokalee Casino table games supervisor Cheryl Quillen, who sang “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Coconut Creek Casino supervisor Joseph Dipietro competed as a magician.

Also during the event, Tribal brothers Spencer and Zachary “Doc” Battiest and the Las Vegas-based a cappella group Mosaic made guest performances, while Gaming property presidents and general managers danced in a high-energy performance.

Susan Renneisen, Hollywood Hard Rock’s director of special events and community relations liaison, said this year’s production was a cut above, including professional stage lighting, backup dancers, props and pyrotechnics.

“[The show] gives everyone an opportunity from all the properties together to give one big celebration of the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Renneisen said. “The Seminole Tribe provides a fabulous place of employment and takes care of all their employees, and this is a celebration of the camaraderie of all the properties.”

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