Taking a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity : SMCM student dances her way to the Super Bowl halftime show

Submitted by Gretchen Phillips on March 04, 2024 - 11:22 am
March 04, 2024
By Gretchen Phillips

Kailah Callaham dances in front of the Jamie L Roberts Stadium Kailah Callaham ’27 could have brushed it off as a transient thought that night in 2023 when she watched the cast of performers at Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime show and thought, “I could do that.'' But then she wouldn’t have been on the field dancing in the 2024 Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show while more than 120 million viewers tuned in.

Callaham, a political science and psychology double major at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, sent in her audition video last September, and was selected as one of the 300 members of the field cast for the show, headlined by Usher. The performance on Feb. 11 opened up a world of possibilities for the 18-year-old Severna Park, Maryland native. 

She said throughout the process she was around roughly 400 different people from “different walks of life,” and they were all there with the same passion for performing. Callaham was the youngest of the field cast and said she felt welcomed by all involved in the performance. She was also very thankful to St. Mary’s College because as a full-time student, she had support from both faculty and staff when making arrangements to be in Las Vegas for the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

Joanne Goldwater, associate dean for retention and student success, said Callaham approached her with the opportunity and the challenge — what could she do ahead of time to prepare for the possibility of being selected and needing to miss some classes. 

“We discussed the steps she should take to proactively reach out to her spring semester instructors to discuss some options with them,” Goldwater said. ”I recommended contacting instructors right after spring registration in November to at least give them a heads up about this possibility.” 

Callaham said she was fortunate to have professors who saw how big the Super Bowl was and the opportunity before her as all of the professors for her spring semester were in support and helped accommodate her so she wouldn't fall behind. 

“All SMCM professors want you to be focused on what you want to do in your life,” she said.

Performing at the Super Bowl was an accomplishment that she said could open the door to a host of opportunities and she felt that faculty and staff at SMCM understood. 

“This was a dream come true for Kailah and I'm grateful that her instructors were willing to work with her to help her make her dream a reality, “ Goldwater said.

Callaham said she brought home countless memories, made a lot of connections in the entertainment industry, met several A-list celebrities and has a new perspective on achieving goals.

“You just have to go for things,”  she said.  




May 6, 2024