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Photo credit Seraphina Ellen (@seraphinaellen on Instagram)

We’ve got Taylor Swift at home: U of C’s very own Taylor Swift impersonator

By Reyam Jamaleddine, June 7 2024— 

Seraphina Ellen has taken the University of Calgary  by storm with her Taylor Swift impersonation at the Schulich Soundstage. The third-year finance student performs covers of Taylor Swift’s hit songs in an array of extravagant homemade cosplay outfits and choreography. 

In an Instagram post for UCalgary Relay for Life, Ellen explained her mom’s diagnosis with inflammatory breast cancer and her unfortunate passing away. She explained how these outcomes led to her pursuing a career in music. 

“Back in 2016, my mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and she was given one year to live and in that time she decided to do as many cool things as she could, things she had been scared to do in the past. So she started learning to paint, she started public speaking, she went on hikes and she did this all while being a single mom, running her business and trying to go through cancer treatment,” said Ellen in the Instagram video. 

“When she passed away this summer I told myself that I would need to make her proud and I always loved singing but I was kind of too scared to practice or ever perform, [because] I thought 19 was too old to start a skill. But she taught me that it’s better to feel discomfort and embarrassment in one moment rather than regret later in your life for never trying. And so when September rolled around and I saw U of C hosting an open mic, I performed.”

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Ellen shared insights to this story specifically what the journey to becoming Calgary’s very own Taylor Swift and an up-and-coming artist was like, as well as how it is currently unfolding. 

“I’ve always loved doing music, I remember as a kid I had this xylophone toy that I really loved playing with and it was almost like a DJ mixing kit where you can record your voice and play it back and have the keyboard go on top of it. I’ve always just been a fan of music, not necessarily good at it, I played the flute growing up and for a while, I thought I would pursue a performance degree on that. I always enjoyed singing and Taylor Swift had been one of my favourite artists growing up. I had always been too scared to actually sing in front of people even though it was something I really enjoyed doing because I knew I wasn’t good at it by a normal person’s standards,” said Ellen.

“My mom, passed away this past July and I realized I can’t just waste my life for lack of better words. Life is short, and she has always encouraged me to do the things that I love. The thing that would make her proudest is to try something that I’m new at because one day I’m going to be in adulthood and time isn’t guaranteed so might as well just spend every moment trying something new that makes you happy,” said Ellen.

Ellen’s Taylor Swift performance attracted a lot of attention from the campus community. She explains what it’s like to be on campus and a part of the greater student population. She explains how the campus community has benefited her ability to do the Taylor Swift act.

“I like being part of communities. It’s fun for me—I like the soundstage. I want to be part of more clubs, I want to do more things. I like getting involved, expanding my interests and just trying stuff out. Because you know, why not, right? There are so many things you can do in life and there’s not a lot of time. So just throw yourself at everything, see what fits, see what brings you the most joy and just, I’m grateful for everything on campus. There are so many resources if I hadn’t gone to university I wouldn’t be fake Taylor Swift.”

Ellen’s debut as Taylor Swift was in an open mic hosted by the Schulich Soundstage. She explained the events that led up to her first performance and how she had dealt with the mixed reactions that came up after performing. 

“It’s been weird. I don’t know how to deal with being seen because it’s not something I’m used to. In person people at Soundstage and all of the individuals who watched that performance were so kind and encouraging it was great to experience and people recognized me in the hallways.” 

“When my first performance went viral I had some people claiming to be U of C students threatening me in the comments saying if you show your face in class I’ll make sure you never do again, and so for a while, I didn’t come to school. But people say things, you can’t take anything too seriously, even if it isn’t negative, don’t take the positive stuff too seriously either, everything is just a thing,” said Ellen. 

On Ellen’s Instagram page, negative comments in the comment section under her Taylor Swift performances can be found such as “They make me hate Taylor even more” and “Please tell me this was a joke or dare or something. No one is this unaware.” But she also has an array of comments delighting in her musical talents.

Ellen explains her experience with cyberbullying and overall internet commentary. She details how she handles and manages these comments as well as the emotions that coincide with them.

“I know not to take cyberbullying too seriously or hate comments too seriously because everyone has their own perception of me and when people don’t like something they’re going to be the loudest about it. But on the same note I’ve had so much of that when I see positive comments, I don’t know if I believe them either because it’s just so conflicting. ”

Being the U of C’s Taylor Swift is not the only thing on Ellen’s mind. She is currently actively pursuing her musical career and recently debuted her first single Fast Car. When asked what her future endeavours are, she indulged in the dreams she has for her future. 

“I’m pushing myself to perform at more places. I’m doing a venue performance in Vancouver to celebrate the Eras tour in December. For my long-term goal in life, I want to perform in Vegas. I went there in October because my mom, she had bought tickets to Pink on her birthday. Vegas was her favorite place, so she bought herself front-row tickets to see Pink in Vegas.” 

“Unfortunately, she passed away so she gave the tickets to my sister and I, and we got to go for the first time, and I was just in awe of that city. I was like, this is where I need to be. I need to be in the sequins and the bedazzled. I hope to one day be competent enough to actually earn that place, but I want to be a performer, I want to sparkle. I don’t need to be famous, but I want to be on the stage in any way possible. That’s the long-term goal,” said Ellen. 

Ellen continues to practice her singing and perform at the Schulich Soundstage. Her presence on campus is ignited as she continues to perform. 

“To the fans, I love you besties. I don’t know why I have fans, but y’all are so sweet. And I really appreciate all of the support, and it means so much to me. It’s surreal. And to the haters, I mean haters are gonna hate. To the people hating on me from their business accounts on Instagram, I suggest getting a burner,” said Ellen. 

Stream Seraphina Ellen’s debut single Mr. Fast Car on Spotify. To learn more about her endeavours visit her Instagram page.

This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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