Three generations of Naperville artists

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Naperville photographer Lindsay Chan, daughter of musician Gary Leavenworth and mother of budding actress and performer Emmy Chan, recently sat down with 630 Naperville co-host Paige Ronchetti to talk about the three generations of Naperville artists in her family and how even though their mediums are different, their dedication to their crafts are unified.

1st generation: Gary Leavenworth

Lindsay’s father, Gary Leavenworth is a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty, has been involved in the Naperville music scene for quite some time.  He founded and produced the popular nonprofit scholarship program “Singing for Seniors,” designed mainly to entertain people in the 55-plus age group. The program retired in 2019, but the memories and legacy of what Gary created endures.

Leavenworth has also been a proud member of the Naperville Men’s Glee Club (NMGC) for over 30 years. You can catch him belting it out with the NMGC through the year in their various community concerts. Including this Naperville Men’s Glee Club presents Hope Springs Eternal concert covered by NCTV17.

Lindsay reflected on her dad saying, “Definitely having my dad into the arts influenced the way that I grew up. We were always going to musicals, going to shows, going to concerts, things like that. I remember going to Glee Club concerts as a little kid and just being the usher and constantly singing all of those songs that I grew up with him singing.”

2nd generation: Lindsay Chan

Lindsay Chan may not have inherited the musical genes in the family, but her artistic prowess in on full display in her photography work. She is the proud owner of Lindsay Chan Photography, which has been a full time business since 2012.

Lindsay is honored to use her art to tell her clients stories. “So if you think of being a storyteller, you know, whether it’s a musician, someone singing a song or telling a story through a different type of art. For me it’s photography, I love to tell my clients stories, through their family, their story of love, their silliness. It’s not about being perfect. I’ve always also shared that as a mom of young kids myself, I don’t love being in front of the camera. And I think it’s important for moms or parents that usually hide behind the camera themselves to be in front of it and be in pictures with their kids. So just telling my clients stories and their family’s story as a whole so that when those kids grow up, it’s just really about storytelling for me.”

As a mother herself to Emerson, Elijah, and fur babies, Millie & Henry, she is drawn to working with families of all types. She said, “I love working with families with young kids. I think a lot of families think that their kids are difficult to work with or we shouldn’t do this. It’s just easier not to. I work with a lot of families that have kids with special needs and lots of different neurodiversitys is like I work with all different types of families and I think that’s important for all families to feel comfortable that they can have those photos, said Lindsay.”

3rd generation: Emerson “Emmy” Chan

The youngest artist in the family is a triple threat. At just 7-years old, young Emmy Chan is a singer, dancer, and actor. She was recently a member of the Paramount Theatre’s “The Sound of Music” serving as an understudy for the role of the youngest von Trapp, Gretl. She is very involved in the young Naperville arts scene including the Road Show, The Academy of the Arts, and Xtreme Dance Center.

Lindsay said her family has been careful to balance Emmy’s professional career and her childhood and she offered some advice for other parents with children in the industry saying, “I think focusing on raising good humans, not just good performers, is really, really important. And the reason I mention that is I just think that the industry can be really brutal for kids.”

She went on to say “all of those other things will come in the arts. There are so many things that you can learn as an artist, whether you’re performing or a different type of art that makes you a good human, collaboration, cooperating together, being supportive of other people, even when it’s not your turn to shine.”

At the end of the day, Lindsay just wants acting and performing to be enjoyable for Emmy. “I really, truly believe that there’s nothing more fun than acting as a child. Like when you’re a child acting, it is fun. It’s not a job. You don’t have to worry about the finances of things. So there’s no reason for it to be anything more than fun when they’re kids.”

Watch Emmy in action as she talks about her role in the Paramount Theatre’s “The Sound of Music” in this recent NCTV17 newstory.