But it's not just good acting that got her the top honor. While she has always been into theater, Ames says her appreciation for and understanding of Shakespeare has grown over the last couple of years. She says the classic works aren't as tough to grasp as many may think.
"Honestly, he is one of the funniest playwrights. All of his comedies, and even his tragedies, I mean, he's written them so amazingly that if you just sit down and take the time to really go through it, you will love every single sentence," Ames explained.
Ames' faculty advisor Tucker Winter couldn't be more proud. Winter says it may take a lot of energy and hands-on learning to get kids to catch on to Shakespeare, but she continues to push the author in her classroom because in her eyes, his works best bring together poetry and real life for students. And, Winter adds, it obviously can open doors for young people.
"I felt really grateful that I had been able to do something that I thought was so small that was an opportunity that she would be able to take advantage of for a long time," Winter said.
For beating out everyone else in the competition, Ames will be sent to London for a two-week summer school course in July. The class is focused on teaching young actors about Shakespeare and contemporary works.
That wasn't the only advantage of being a part of this competition. Ames' long-time acting coach Laura Rikard was in the audience when Ames took on the Lincoln Center stage, and when she was announced the winner. She says the connections Ames has made with professionals and other students through this experience are invaluable.
"I can't wait to see what doors this opens for her and where she's going to go because she's going to achieve so many great things," Rikard said.
On top of this exciting honor, Ames learned just days before New York that she has scored a full scholarship to the Ivy League-level school of her choice. She has her sights set on Columbia University.
Charlottesville Teen Named National Shakespeare ChampMore>>
Dannika Lewis joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in June 2010. She started her ventures in broadcast news at Elon University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story