Octavius Womack, better known around SVC as “Mr. O,” had a dream of becoming a football star. But God had a different plan. After playing throughout Junior High and High School, he earned a full-ride scholarship to Lincoln University in Missouri. A standout tackle who played on both offense and defense, it looked like Mr. O was on his way to realizing his dream. But that dream came to a sudden end when he suffered a career-ending injury during his sophomore year. No longer able to play the sport he loved, he returned home to his family in Jackson, Tennessee.
The youngest of four children, Mr. O grew up in the church. His father served as a deacon and his mother was the choir director. “I began singing in the choir when I was only three because my mother got tired of holding me,” jokes Mr. O. More likely the case: Mrs. Womack saw something special in her son — a gift for music and a heart for worship.
While Mr. O was healing from the physical injury to his body, the Lord was beginning to heal the pain of his shattered dream through music and worship. “I transferred to Jackson State College,” recalls Mr. O. “One day in between classes, I sat down at a piano in a vacant room and began playing and singing. The school’s Vocal Director ‘just happened’ to be nearby. She heard me and immediately asked me to join the choir.”
Mr. O accepted that invitation, which eventually led to singing at festivals, vocal competitions, and performances at venues such as Carnegie Hall. During his time at Jackson State, The Young Americans — a performing group with some of the nation’s most gifted singers — held workshops for prospective members. In March of 2003, Mr. O received an invitation to join the prestigious ensemble which was renowned not only for its outstanding vocals, but for also its high-energy choreography.
Relocating to be near The Young American’s home base in Southern California, Mr. O moved to Corona with three other Young Americans. He toured with YA for almost five years and visited many countries along the way, including China, Japan, Russia, Germany and England. He was promoted to the position of Associate Director in 2007, a position he held until January of 2017. It was also during this time that he also earned a Certificate from The Young Americans College of Performing Arts and a degree in Liberal Arts from Azusa Pacific University.
In 2011, the Lord orchestrated a divine encounter between Mr. O and a woman whose daughter attended Valley Christian Schools in Cerritos. Sensing God’s leading, the parent introduced Mr. O to the Valley Christian community who began to actively pursue him for a staff position. “While I was on tour with The Young Americans in Germany, I received a call from Valley offering me the position of Vocal and Drama Director,” said Mr. O. He accepted that offer and thus began a new chapter: building a thriving theatre arts program in a private Christian school.
While at Valley, Mr. O became close friends with a dynamic High School history teacher and coach named Erick Streelman, now SVC’s Head of School. They forged a friendship and even shared the stage from time to time. Mr. Streelman was overwhelmed by Mr. O’s God-given talent, his adoration of Jesus, and his passion for seeing young people explore and grow through the arts. “I watched O take the vocal and drama area at Valley from very humble beginnings and build it into one of the most vibrant programs on campus — with high quality productions from musicals to a variety showcase to an array of choral performances,” said Mr. Streelman.
When Mr. Streelman joined SVC as our Head of School in 2016, he identified hiring a full-time Director of Fine Arts as as one of the most important parts of his strategic plan. So it was no surprise that he tapped Mr. O for this important position.
“My goal is to empower young people to make positive choices — on stage, in the classroom, and in life,” said Mr. O. “In order to grow on stage, you must learn how to adapt to the realities of life, our biggest stage.”
Mr. O’s vision for SVC is to provide students with experiences similar to what he personally experienced and what he implemented at Valley — opportunities to explore various arenas within the Arts and opportunities to perform at venues, both near and afar.
First up on the SVC docket was last fall’s production of Disney’s High School Musical JR, an abbreviated version of the Tony-award winning musical, High School Musical. Although Mr. O is working primarily with our High School students, Jr. High students also have opportunities to participate in school shows. In the future, he will also be collaborating with Elementary music teacher, Mrs. Johnson, to bring all-school productions to SVC.
Highlights from Mr. O’s Performing Career
Octavius Womack, “Mr. O,” is a nationally-recognized performer, instructor, and teacher.
He has shared the stage with gifted artists, including John Legend, Pentatonix, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Bernadette Peters. His resume boasts performances in productions such as The Buddy Holly Story, Dreamgirls, Guys and Dolls, and Five Guys Named Moe. He has performed in dozens of countries for many thousands of people. He was a contestant on America’s Got Talent.
Mr. O has been an instructor with the Young Americans College of Performing Arts, and has over 10 years of experience running High School performing arts shows and programs. He has several videos on YouTube — the most successful of which has over 1.5 million views (click here to listen to the 1970’s iconic Ain’t No Sunshine).
More than anything, he is a passionate follower of Christ who is committed to discipling our students. We are blessed to have him as part of the SVC community!