By MADDY VITALE
Julia Rae sat in her family’s home in Ocean City and recalled the beginning of her career as a performer, singer, songwriter and pageant winner.
It all started with a music video — her first one — on the beach in Ocean City 12 years ago.
“I have been coming to Ocean City since before I can remember,” Julia, 27, said. “I was born in June and there are photos of me on the Ocean City beaches when I was just weeks old.”
For Julia, who splits her time between Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles working full time in the entertainment world, an exciting new opportunity came for her to showcase her singing and also find true love.
She is appearing on episodes of “The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart” on Monday nights on ABC.
The show gives musicians a venue to display their talents on national television with the possibility of meeting the person of their dreams.
“As a performer, I am always in tune with auditions for shows, so I saw a casting notice for single singers and sent in my videos. From there, I auditioned in person and now here we are,” Julia explained. “Obviously, this cast is all musicians hoping to break through with their careers, and I definitely went on hoping that would happen for me.”
And, with a sense of humor, she admitted she hasn’t been lucky in love, which was another reason she thought she would audition to be a contestant.
“I have historically failed miserably in my dating life, so I figured the dating apps weren’t working for me, might as well give this a try,” she noted.
Julia, who graduated from Fordham University with a major in communications, has had to overcome hurdles along the way throughout not only her career as an entertainer, but since she was a child.
She was born with cystic fibrosis, a debilitating lung disease. She suffered several lung collapses and long hospital stays over the years.
Throughout her life, she has battled back and managed the disease with medications and daily breathing exercises.
At just 16, she created a nonprofit, “Singing at the Top Of My Lungs.” Proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and provide funding for children’s art and therapy programs at hospitals.
Now, she is using the opportunity she has in the national spotlight on “The Bachelor” to put a spotlight on cystic fibrosis.
“When I received the news I would be in the show, I was thrilled to have this big of a platform to share my story and hopefully inspire others,” Julia said.
Her talents so many years before caught the eye and ear of Michael Hartman, the founder of the Ocean City Theatre Company and Ocean City’s special events coordinator.
“I actually met Julia when she was a teen. I got her to sing with the Ocean City Pops. Since then, she has been a dear friend,” Hartman noted. “She has helped with emceeing events like the Ocean City Christmas Parade. She is an exceptional young woman.”
For Julia, Hartman became a mentor.
“Michael and I really hit it off and he became an important and influential mentor in my life,” Julia said.
Julia, who grew up in Wayne, Pa., with her parents and two older brothers, has spent many summers in Ocean City throughout her lifetime.
When she and her family come to their vacation home in Ocean City, there are many things that remind her of what makes it so special.
“I love so many things about Ocean City. Everyone who comes has memories of Ocean City from when they were little,” Julia pointed out. “You immediately feel at home in Ocean City.”
Ocean City served as an early platform for her entertainment career. As she continues to develop her career, she gives advice to those battling cystic fibrosis: Never give up.
“I always thought, if I do my breathing treatments, I can pursue my dreams. There were times when I wanted to give up. But I knew if I could just take care of myself, I would have the chance of leading the life I dreamed of.”
On the last limousine ride to “The Bachelor” mansion in a future episode, she thought of the young children who suffer from cystic fibrosis. She wants them to see that they can survive and lead a wonderful, fulfilling life.
“I learned how to embrace the challenge of my disease and be an inspiration for little girls. On my final limo ride to The Bachelor mansion I said to myself, “Make those little girls proud.'”
For more about Julia Rae and her foundation “Singing at the Top of Your Lungs,” visit https://juliarae.com/
Here’s a performance Julia did for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-2yct9Hh-T/?igshid=9gt72jll97x