SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) — In Hollywood and show business lore, there is no adage probably more written about or even sung about than how quickly one can go from nobody to star in short order.
Nothing may illustrate this more than the story of Emily Zamourka.
Earlier this week, she was seen singing on the subway — opera no less — and as more people explored her story they were upset to discover a sad side to it, most notably that the woman with the lilting, lovely soprano voice was homeless.
It’s now Saturday, and as CBS2/KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo reports, the week couldn’t be ending any more different.
A week ago, she was singing in the Koreatown Metro station — in a video tweeted out by the LAPD. She’s now an internet sensation and her star continues to rise. She sang to a few people walking by last week — tonight she was followed around by international media, some as far away as Finland.
Tonight, Zamourka is performing at the grand opening of the new Little Italy of Los Angeles. She was invited to perform by Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office.
She’s basking in the glory but hasn’t forgotten the pain of the past few years.
“This my chance of telling people the real me, who I was the whole time,” she says, choking back tears. “People took me the wrong way every time they saw me on the buses, on the trains anywhere.”
Before the viral video shot by the LAPD brought her praise, she says she often felt despised — especially when she became homeless.
Zamourka says she struggled with health problems. Then three years ago. a thief stole and shattered her violin. It robbed her of her livelihood as a street performer.
That was the final blow she says that sent her into despair and homelessness.
“I couldn’t play any more. A lot of people (literally) beat me up. And they were thinking of me, different. Every time I felt so hurt,” Zamourka says.
But now her voice has brought her legions of fans. In San Pedro this evening, she was followed everywhere she went — by people with cellphone cameras, press, and one very familiar and kind face.
Zamourka sees an old friend. “Such a long time. You were the bus driver. And you were always respecting me.”
Zamourka now sees more kindness. And through music hopes to leave the constant stress and danger of her old life behind.
“I’m ready to work,” she says. “I’m already working. And it feels great.”
She’s hoping her story will remind people — to be kind to everyone they see, especially the vulnerable, like the homeless.
“Every homeless person deserves to be seen,” Zamourka says, “deserves a chance.”
On a side note, Zamourka on Saturday evening met music producer Joel Diamond and is hoping to make a record with him.