TSDCA, in partnership with LDI2022 and USITT, has announced the 2022 recipients of the Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarships. The awards are funded by LDI and Live Design to support students from underrepresented backgrounds in the field of entertainment design.
The scholarships are named for Pat MacKay, former publisher of Theatre Crafts International (TCI) and Lighting Dimensions and founder of the LDI trade show. She is a USITT Fellow and has mentored multiple generations of industry professionals. The Diversity In Design Scholarships were introduced in 2019 to support the diverse and unique voices in the field of entertainment design and are presented to undergraduate students.
The lighting scholarship recipients are Niya John of University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Isaac Castillo of SUNY Purchase; and Emily Pan of University of Maryland, College Park, who was also awarded an honorable mention for sound design. The scholarship for projection design goes to Sunaina Singh, who will be a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall.
The sound scholarship recipients are Kayla Chen of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Renata Finamore of the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts.
This year, the candidates were so strong that for the first time the lighting design judges awarded a special citation, which went to David Heguy, a lighting design student at Penn State. Three sound design applicants were also given honorable mentions: Brianna Kelly, Kayla Steiner, and the multitalented Emily Pan.
Get to know the scholarship recipients below.
Kayla Chen is entering her third year of college for a BFA in Theatre Design and Production with a focus in sound design at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She aspires to be an assistant sound designer or an A1/mixer after graduating. Recently, she has worked as the A2 at the Ogunquit Playhouse for The Cher Show and has also assistant designed The Burials at CCM. During the upcoming semester, she will be assistant designing She Loves Me at CCM. Kayla is a huge supporter of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) and always advocates for inclusivity. She is extremely passionate about setting a higher standard for the appearance of mics for people of color.
Renata Finamore is a rising junior at the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts, pursuing a BFA in sound design. She is a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, where she majored in technical theater. Renata was previously an audio intern at the award-winning Sleep No More in New York City. She aspires to work on other immersive theatrical experiences, while exploring all avenues of sound design. Her latest sound design credits at USC include The Tempest and Next to Normal. She is looking forward to sound designing The Wedlock of the Gods and mixing Company at USC during the upcoming school year.
Niya John is a lighting designer entering her junior year at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Niya is beyond excited to be a recipient of this year’s scholarship. As a designer, she has a particular interest in the use of colored light on different mediums (skin, fabric, makeup, etc.). She is looking forward to designing future productions at her school, as well as in the professional world. Her ultimate goal is to be nominated for (and maybe even win) a Tony Award for her designs.
Isaac Castillo is a rising senior at SUNY Purchase, where he is currently working towards his BFA in Theatre Design/Technology with a concentration in lighting design. He has spent his past year working on a multitude of projects, from designing for dance, working as an electrician, to most notably serving as the lighting intern on A Strange Loop, the 2022 Tony Award-winning Best Musical. He is currently a member of the 2022 cohort of ETC’s Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program. He sees a performance space as a sanctuary that allows for the deep exploration of the human experience, and hopes to pursue a career as a lighting designer for theatre, dance, and live entertainment.
Emily Pan (She/Her) is an undergraduate studying theatre with a design focus at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a lighting designer and sound designer for theatre and dance, as well a self-taught artist in media design. Her passion in the arts lies in telling stories touched by BIPOC and AAPI identities and she draws inspiration from the experiences and cultures of people around her. She hopes to pursue a career in design in lighting, sound, or media and collaborate with artists from everywhere. Eventually she hopes for a chance to teach other theatre students and give back to the community.
Sunaina Singh is a rising freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in the Design/Production program in the School of Drama. While Singh started out as a scenic designer at her high school, her work began to transition into digital media and projection design in numerous shows in light of the pandemic. Singh believes that a main purpose to her artistic credence is to broach new ideas and bring together different worlds of design. In the future, she hopes to explore digital media and projection design and its applications in non-traditional and innovative ways. Her experience includes theatrical shows at her school, graphic design, and film.
The 2022 judges for lighting and digital media scholarships this year were designers Roma Flowers, Ebony Madry and Rasean Davonte Johnson, alongside industry icon Pat MacKay, LDI/Live Design creative director Ellen Lampert-Gréaux, and Live Design content manager Hannah Kinnersley.
“For the fourth consecutive year, we are proud to present the Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarships,” says LDI show director Jessi Cybulski. “The applicants displayed an incredible maturity in terms of their work and the recipients range from a high school senior to college seniors who are deeply dedicated to the design fields of sound, projection, and lighting. Congratulations to the recipients, and we are pleased to be able to help them along their journey to become professional designers.”
In addition to the financial award, all of the scholarship recipients will be offered TSDCA Supporting Memberships and the opportunity to attend LDI2022, November 14-20, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.