22 year old South Londoner Ayomide Adegun is currently in his 2nd year of the BA Acting course at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. His professional credits include The Jumper Factory by Luke Barnes at the Young Vic.
In his application Ayomide said “Acting changed my life, and put me on the straight and narrow, coming from a working class background has benefited me in a sense that it enabled me to have a range of experiences to draw from. I decided to pursue drama school when I was 19 because I wanted to enhance my quality and improve my range and cast-ability, as I was always going up for the typical, rough, offender type character but I see myself as much more than that… The scholarship would mean so much to me because It would mean I could receive advice from industry professionals who are able to guide me and give me an inside view of what the industry is like and what it demands from a modern-day actor… It would also put financial worries behind me to give me the best chance of developing into the best version of myself after graduating.”
Across the board, he received the most votes, with all but one judge selecting him as their first or second pick, which is quite outstanding. The shortlist material provided by Faye Timby was delivered very well by Ayo and he took some brilliant choices in his self-tapes. We feel that as well as being a talented actor, he will benefit strongly from the scholarship, as someone who identifies as coming from a working-class background and someone who will squeeze every little bit out of the scholarship.
Co-founder Liam McLauchlin said, “This year we received 187 applications from 27 different institutions and schools across England, Wales and Scotland. This was a significant increase on last year, over triple the amount of applicants and 15 new institutions and schools. Despite our fears that this year’s scholarship would be hampered by the pandemic, the shortlist was an extremely difficult decision to make – so much so, we ended up adding 2 extra actors because they were so good. This year’s scholarship incredibly important, as the pandemic has ruptured the heart of the theatre and performance industry – meaning the majority of actors at some point this year have lost work. We hope the scholarship highlights how much care we must take to support graduates and actors, and hope we can continue to improve and expand the award for more actors in 2021 and beyond.”
The Luke Westlake Scholarship, formerly known as the JAM Scholarship, is an award designed to provide an actor with artistic and financial support worth over £3,000 in their final year and as they graduate from university or drama school, and begin to navigate their way into the industry. The scholarship was established when the team behind JAM realised many actors were being priced out of their career once they left training. After spending upwards of £30k to learn their craft, actors need to purchase union membership, database subscriptions, materials for marketing themselves, and more; they often work zero hours jobs so they can duck out at short notice to attend auditions and can lack the contacts to get their foot in the door. The acting industry frequently notes the lack of working class talent, but without support it is near impossible to get started. By reaching out to contacts and industry organisations JAM is delighted to build on last year’s inaugural scholarship with yet more partners and prizes, to alleviate the financial and artistic burden and set another graduate up on a stronger footing for their first year in the industry.
Last year’s winner Madison Stock shared what being the recipient of the scholarship has meant to her “I come from a very working class background, and where I’m from not many people are given many good opportunities so getting into ALRA on a full DADA was a dream because without it I wouldn’t be financially stable enough to be there. I was so chuffed when I won the JAM scholarship set up by Liam, Kristian and Kyle. It was the confidence boost I needed in order for me to grab the bull by the horns and say “I’m ready for this industry.” I am so very grateful for the things I’ve received through the scholarship like my headshots, showreel scene, Filmclub membership. And I cannot wait to watch this scholarship grow and grow and help many more young working class actors. I am so grateful for the boys at JAM and I can’t wait to be on this journey with them by my side.”
The full list of prizes are: 1yr Spotlight membership, 1yr subscription to The Stage, 2 industry advice sessions with Spotlight’s Emma Dyson (Performer Careers Consultant), Full headshot session + edits with Samuel Black Photography, Full showreel package with self-tape.co.uk, First year tax return with Tax for Actors, Full voice reel, 1yr full membership of Voiceover Kickstart’s training and community with Guy Michaels at voice-reel.com, £100.00 voucher at Nick Hern Books, Industry advice meeting with an Agent from Olivia Bell Management, Industry advice meetings with: Casting Associate Faye Timby (The Witcher, Netflix) and Casting Assistants Naomi Downham (National Theatre) and Martin Poile (RSC), 6 JAM Casting Workshops, £500.00 towards accommodation rent (after graduating), 1yr subscription to Spikizi Accent and Dialect App.
All shortlisted performers will also receive: 1-to-1 with Casting Director Emma Sylvester (Doctors, BBC), Group session with 2 agents from 42 Management, Group feedback session with Casting Associate Faye Timby (The Witcher, Netflix).
And all applicants are offered a free online workshop about staying physically and mentally healthy in the industry to all scholarship applicants from BAPAM, a specialist healthcare charity supporting individuals & organisations in the performing arts.