Two Santa Clara natives, twin sisters Ogechi and UgochiEgonu successfully competed in national-sponsored poetry and Shakespeare competitions earlier this year, finishing first and second, respectively.
The sisters, currently sophomores at San Domenico School, a boarding school in San Anselmo, took the top spots in competition, with OgechiEgonu winning the annual Shakespeare Competition (a title her sister won last year), and UgochiEgonu placing second in the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation’s 2015 Marin County Finals Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.
OgechiEgonu’s winning piece was Cressida’s monologue from Troilus and Cressida, which she chose after reviewing a list of monologues with her drama teacher. She also cold-read a sonnet to claim the victory.”Knowing my sister had won the competition last year pushed me to work harder,” she said. “Competition with my sister makes me better because we push each other to do our best and remind each other to have fun.”
Although OgechiEngou worked hard, practicing until the monologue was perfectly performed, she was still surprised to hear her name. “When I heard I had won, I was so happy! There were so many other actors that were just as deserving and I felt honored that they chose me.”
Likewise, UgochiEgonu placed in a top spot, finishing second by reciting I, Too by Langston Hughes and Up-Hill by Christina Rosseti, choosing the poems because they “both represented a struggle and a longing for relief.”
“I was so shocked when my name was called,” she said. “There were so many other talented people performing, which made it even more of a surprise when I heard my name.”
She too, enjoys the friendly competition between her and her sister. “It’s actually very fun competing against my sister,” she said. “I feel like we make each other better and remind each other that it’s about the performance and not the competition.”
Both girls, whose parents emigrated from Nigeria in the late 1990s and whose mother has fond memories of her time attending boarding school, maintain a 3.5 GPA and hope to continue competing as long as they are able. Until next year, OgechiEgonu, who is currently leaning toward a career in business, will continue taking hip hop classes and participating in track, and UgochiEgonu, who intendson becominga writer one day, hopes to inspire others.
“I really hope I’ll be able to compete in the Shakespeare competition again,” said OgechiEgonu.
“I’m definitely going to continue reciting poetry, including my own,” said UgochiEgonu. “I really just want to keep being inspired by poets and hopefully inspire other people, too.”