Harlem teenager Xavier Pacheco is making headlines after taking 1st place at the English Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, beating out 15,000 other competitors!

Incredibly, 16-year old Pacheco was only introduced to Shakespeare’s work two years ago. But he took to it like a fish to water.

He says the key to his success was a relentless work ethic and attention to detail.

From the New York Daily News:

“I don’t stop at just getting it right,” said Pacheco. “I want it to be perfect and I’ll go through every double meaning, every pun, every metaphor until I understand it and then can make the audience understands it, too.”

It wasn’t until he beat out the 57 other New York public and private high schoolers that the Queens native thought he had a shot of winning.

In April, Pacheco stepped up to the Lincoln Center stage and wowed a panel of judges including a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a Broadway actress, and the co-founder of the American Shakespeare Center.

Pacheco’s prize is attendance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actors Summer School in London.

It will be his first time out of the country.

Read more at the NY Daily News

Congratulations to Xavier on this phenomenal achievement.

Good luck in London!