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Andra Day was always destined for greatness.
The 36-year-old star and newly-minted Oscar nominee can be seen shining from the stage during a school performance of Gypsy in a PEOPLE exclusive video.
Day, who played the leading role of Louise in the musical, belts out "If Momma Was Married" during a stage performance at the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she graduated from in 2003.
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday star tells PEOPLE she was "really blessed" to have attended the school which celebrated "diversity, innovation and creativity."
"It really fostered that," she says, adding that while she'd always hoped for a career in music she "definitely" never saw herself become an Oscar nominee one day.
"I never really had a plan B, I always wanted to do this," she tells PEOPLE. "I think there were random moments in my life where I was like, 'Maybe I'll be a lawyer,' or I had one random moment where I was like, 'I'll be a paleontologist.'"
But pursuing a career in the arts is "always something that I wanted to do," admits Day. "It was really specific then but now I just like being a creative person, an artist. It's a spirit-led thing and that's what I want to pursue."
"It's amazing to have music or songs that people seem to resonate with and helps them get through their toughest moments," she says. "It's a blessing."
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As the Oscars, airing on April 25, approach, Day says she has two very important people to thank for their support.
"My parents always encouraged my desire to be an entertainer or to be creative. I realized what a blessing that was because that's not always the case," she says. "I think oftentimes young people are discouraged from pursuing careers in creative arts or performance arts."
RELATED VIDEO: Andra Day Says It's a 'Little Overwhelming' Being Nominated For an Oscar Alongside Viola Davis
While growing up, her family "didn't have much money," Day says — but she stresses that they "always really emotionally supported me."
"It's always better when you have a community of people, some kind of support system and I always had that in my parents."
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is available to stream on Hulu.
The 93rd Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, April 25 starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.