Special Assignment: Diva Destination - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Special Assignment: Diva Destination

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It's a regular Hollywood East and no we're not talking Boston or New York, but little Rhode Island! The Ocean State has drawn A-list stars from stage and screen and they aren't going anywhere fast!

From Oscar Nominated Actress and Central Falls native, Viola Davis, to singer, songwriter, and Voice judge, Christina Aguilera; and of course, Miss Universe herself, Olivia Culpo, these "divas" are digging Rhode Island.

In fact, international superstar, Paula Abdul has named Providence as the launch city for a brand new project called Ignite, Spark the Moment, a cheerleading and dance competition where teams from both genres from all over the country will compete.

Abdul, who was in Providence in June to announce her new project, has deep ties to the area. She has been linked to local businessman John Caprio, and has been seen dining in several local restaurants.

Along with Abdul, there are so many others that call - or have called - Rhode Island home. Smash star Debra Messing is from East Greenwich; Harry Potter star Emma Watson is due to return to Brown University this fall; and of course Watch Hill's own singing sensation Taylor Swift.

Swift has been seen shopping locally around her Westerly mansion, but has declined several opportunities to speak with NBC 10.

There is no one in the area that has their finger on the pulse of the Hollywood beat like 92 PRO-FM entertainment reporter and Johnston native, Barbi Jo DiMaria, so we asked her, why Rhode Island?

DiMaria believes it is the versatility of the state that has made it a destination for Hollywood starlets. "I would say that Rhode Island is very well-rounded," she says. "We offer a landscape that offers beach front coastal property - the coastline is absolutely gorgeous; and then we offer city life as well that definitely is very artistic and has a flair to it."

With all the female talent that is being cultivated in and around Rhode Island, perhaps the most popular right now is Erika Van Pelt, who we caught up with in Peabody, Massachusetts on the set of her first music video.

Van Pelt was made famous by her top-ten finish on last season's American Idol. The South Kingstown singer is the most recent in a long list of locals making waves on the entertainment scene, and she is singing the praises of her hometown state. "What's great about Rhode Island is we're so small but we have everything it feels like," says Van Pelt."I can be at the beach one second and drive 15 minutes and be in like an urban playground - it's just cool."

According to Van Pelt "…the single's called, 'Listen, Learn, then Delete,' and it's a rebel anthem. It's all about freedom and letting go which I think has been a huge undercurrent in my life especially since I left Idol."

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