The Artists of Colour Initiative Top 30 semi-finalists announced | News – Aussie Theatre

Posted: October 6, 2020 at 9:52 pm


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Last month, the Artists of Colour Initiative (AOC) launched a scholarship competition designed to provide financial assistance and industry support to six exceptionally talented theatre performers based in Australia that identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour (POC).

The initiative was born from the recognition of underrepresentation of these communities in the Australian theatre Industry. The aim of the scholarship is to ensure greater participation within the field of musical theatre amongst these marginalised communities.

With over 60 performers applying for the 2020 Artists of Colour Initiative the Top 30 semi-finalists have been chosen. They are:

Aadhya Wijegoonawardena, Abu Kebe, Aiden Wang, Akansha Hugenahally, Angelina Thomson, Ava Madon, Daniella Delfin, Deirdre Khoo, Dindi Huckle-Moran, Ellie Chan, Gabriella Barbagallo, Giorgia Kennedy, Grace Driscoll, Guillaume Gentil, Jade Delmiguez, Jarrod Draper, Jerome Javier, Joshua Sanerive, Juan Gomez, Kara Sims, Karis Oka, Kristie Nguy, Lauren Cheok, Martha Berhane, Milo Hartill-Batsietswe, Naarah Barnes, Nicole Rammesh, Raphael Wong, Shannon Cheong and Yashith Fernando.

AOC Initiative founder Tarik Frimpong shared his excitement about the finalists:

These artists are the future. These artists are changing the game. I watched a young man Krump to a musical theatre track and you best believe I was yelling at my computer screen ready to jump in and join the cypher. Watching Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour artists perform works as well as embody and reinvent characters historically played by white performers; it really does something for the soul. I am so proud to be an artist of colour and these applicants have inspired me to continue to show up.

The semi-finalists represent 21 different cultural backgrounds including Sri Lankan, West African (Sierra Leone, Nigeria), East African (Eritrea, Mauritius), Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Colombian, Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago), Polynesian, Aboriginal, Indian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino, Parsis, Vietnamese, Fijian, Samoan and Botswana.

The impact of the AOC Initiative goes beyond this competition; it mobilises and empowers so many Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour who are at entirely different stages of their careers or involved in different aspects of the musical theatre industry. Despite the pandemic, despite recent events in the industry and despite larger systemic issues, these artists have shown up and put on a show, says Frimpong.

In the first round of the competition, each applicant was asked to submit one video of themselves singing or rapping any song from a musical; one video of themselves dancing or moving to any song from a musical; an introductory video and a response to how they would spend $5,000 to further their training and career aspirations.

AOC Initiative panelist Fiona Choi commented on the entrants:

I have been moved to tears watching these submissions. The raw talent is humbling in itself, but more powerful is the heart, poise and tenacity of self-expression that shines through. I dont remember having anywhere near this much grace and self-assurance as a younger performer, or such a beautiful sense of community: it is clear that the AOC Initiative is not just a competition to these candidates, but serves a much higher purpose an opportunity to lift each other up. With humans like these rising through the ranks, the future of Australian musical theatre looks bright indeed.

The latest AOC Initiative GoFundMe campaign has raised over $26,000 with a new target goal now set to $40,000. 100% of the funds raised will be awarded to the six finalists with the winner receiving 50% of the funds, the runner up receiving 20% of the funds and the final four receiving 7.5% each of the funds.

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The Artists of Colour Initiative Top 30 semi-finalists announced | News - Aussie Theatre

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October 6th, 2020 at 9:52 pm