The great Meryl Streep, considered by many to be one of the best actresses of all time, once said of her profession: “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” This gets at a key point for those who choose to pursue this craft; instead of pretending to be someone else, the best actors actually use their own gifts of expression to become someone else.
If you choose to pursue an acting major at college, you’ll have to be prepared for stiff competition; the glitz and glamour of the industry attract many admirers. However, the best actors will still have a leg up on their counterparts if they pursue a scholarship. The scholarships offered will both separate aspiring actors from the rest of the pack and provide various levels of financial assistance. Here’s a quick glance at some of the options open to budding performers:
Deadline: TBD for 2021
The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship honors and awards students pursuing acting and want to continue in higher education. For the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, students must be nominated. If a student is chosen, they then go through three rounds of auditions. Nominated students must perform two two-person scenes and one monologue for round one of auditions. Every year, the Irene Ryan Foundation awards sixteen regional and two national awards to both the nominee and their acting partner.
Deadline: April 3, 2020
The Congressional Black Caucus, or CBC, spends a lot of their time encouraging young African-Americans to participate in areas that are, due to various factors, heavily populated by white students. One way they achieve this goal is through their awesome scholarship program, which provides young students of color opportunities to pursue their dream careers. The CBC Spouses Heineken USA program, offered, as you may have noticed, in partnership with brewing giant Heineken, gives applicants the opportunity to study the performing arts, including the study of acting.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be African-American US citizens (or permanent residents) who are planning to attend college full-time for the pursuit of a career in the performing arts. If you fit these criteria, you must also have at least a 2.5 GPA and prepare to submit an extensive application. The app will include, among other things, a resumé of your academic and community achievements, a headshot, and two letters of recommendation, one from a non-academic leader. Additionally, you’ll be asked to include a two-minute clip that demonstrates your skill in the arts.
Deadline: October 16, 2020
The National YoungArts Foundation has provided assistance for up-and-coming performance artists since its inception as a nonprofit in 1981. To this end, their website states that YoungArts “…identifies and nurtures the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts and assists them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development.” Each year, the foundation provides myriad opportunities for budding artists to take the next step toward their goals.
If you’re between the ages of 15 and 18, YoungArts holds an annual competition for students like you in their hometown of Miami called National YoungArts Week. Applications open every spring, and 170 finalists are chosen from these apps to come to Miami for a chance at an award. In addition to the fantastic experience and financial awards, students will get the chance to speak with and learn from some of the best actors and artists in the world, including luminaries like Olympia Dukakis, Rebecca Walker, and Frank Gehry.
Interested in being an acting major? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to discover the best colleges for acting!