Akash Vukoti isn’t scared of the stage. In fact, he dominates it.
By Becca Nelson Sankey
Photography by Jose Palos, Becca Sankey Photography, and contributed by ABC
Child prodigy Akash Vukoti has experienced more as a 9-year-old than most people do in one lifetime.
At the time of his interview with Create Magazine last February, Akash, who lives in San Angelo with parents Krishna and Kala and sister Amrita, was fresh off a stint on “Dancing With the Stars: Juniors,” in which he was the show’s youngest celebrity. Despite having no prior dance experience, Akash finished in the top six.
“I am so proud of my position,” he said. “I worked so hard and danced with my heart. The studio audience loved me so much and voted for two weeks continuously to keep me in the competition even though I got low scores,” Akash said.
Low scores aren’t exactly something Akash is used to. At age 3, he became a member of the American Mensa, an IQ society for those scoring in at least the 98th percentile of a standardized intelligence test. In 2016, at age 6, Akash made history as the youngest boy to ever compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (He represented San Angelo at the national bee again in 2018 and in 2019). Each milestone was met with international and national media attention, including appearances on “Little Big Shots,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Harry.”
Though “Little Big Shots” is particularly special to him because it marked his first TV appearance, Akash said “DWTS” was his favorite. “I had the time of my life during the show,” he said. “Apart from the dancing itself, I loved to be with my dance partner Kamri (Peterson) and my mentor Witney (Carson). It’s a lot of fun to learn dance with them. We all worked hard and then enjoyed a lot! The production staff, BBC, ABC people and the costumes, editing and security departments, all of them are amazing! Now it’s my DWTS family forever.”
Despite forging a home away from home in Hollywood (where the family lived for two months while Akash was on “DWTS”), Akash, who is homeschooled, insisted he’s just like any other 9-year-old.
“My parents make sure that I am not missing my childhood because of this fame and Hollywood thing,” he said. “They have me enjoy the regular kid activities like birthday parties, soccer, video games, playing in my backyard with my sister, spending time with friends and other things,” Akash said.
The family moved to San Angelo in 2015 from Cleveland, Ohio. By that time, they were already well aware that Akash and his sister, Amrita, were gifted. “Both of them were very smart since they were babies, and we provided the favorable environment for them so that they could continue doing what they love,” said Krishna Vukoti, who is also Akash’s manager.
That included spelling bees, in which Akash has participated since he was 2. “I love to know everything about words,” said Akash, who is fluent in three languages and has been reading since he was 1 ½ . “Regardless of whether I win the spelling bee or not, I. …acquire knowledge. I (also) have many good friends whom I compete with every year from around the country. Even though we compete, we are good friends and can’t wait to see each other every year.”
Vukoti gives the ultimate credit to God for his children’s success and accomplishments. To ensure Akash stays grounded, he often reminds his son of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, which states, in part, “All men are created equal.”
“As parents, we want Akash to be a good citizen of our community, state, country and the world, to help people in need and to become a global role model for everyone to follow,” Vukoti said. “These qualities are more important than winning a competition or being featured on a TV show.”