The Luke Westlake Scholarship supports a working-class student through their last year of study and first year entering the industry as a performer. It was awarded to Melodie Karczewski from Thanet, Kent, during a ceremony at the Turbine Theatre, Battersea Power Station on Sunday evening, attended by the 8 shortlisted performers, panelists, and industry professionals. Melodie is the second consecutive student of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to win the scholarship, she is currently a 2nd year student on the BA (hons) Acting course.
The scholarship offers artistic and financial support worth over £4,000 including Spotlight membership, subscription to The Stage, headshots, showreel, stage combat training, tax return accountancy, £500 towards rent and a series of meetings with agents and casting directors
In her application video Melodie explained what the Luke Westlake Scholarship would mean to her if she won it “It would give me a support network that I wouldn’t really get otherwise – or other people get. I don’t have the support of family network, I don’t have any parents, so I’ve been wholly independent since the age of 18. Coming from where I come from there wasn’t a lot of theatre, I don’t have a large network. I was lucky enough that Open Door paid for my auditions for drama school, and wising me up on how to do it. I’ve been really lucky with schemes like that and I really appreciate the opportunity. I could use the support and I could use the help.”
Melodie is the first disabled winner of the scholarship, as she has non-epileptic attack disorder, meaning she experiences seizures. She is also a passionate supporter of Lulubells Rescue animal charity for whom fosters cats and hosted a 12hour charity live stream earlier this year interviewing industry figures such as playwrights Laura Wade and Simon Stephens, Hamilton actor Karl Queensborough, and Ru Paul’s Drag Race’s Scaredy Cat.
The panel were very impressed by Melodie’s application, casting director Faye Timby said “We received a high volume of applications this year, which was extremely rewarding as it demonstrated a raise in the profile of the company and the incredible work that JAM strives to do but it also meant that the competition was fierce, and in turn, it made choosing our recipient a great deal harder. Melodie’s talent in her audition tapes was undeniable. Her performances translated as truthful and authentic, something even the most accomplished actors can struggle to achieve.”
The shortlisted performers, who will also receive workshops with an agent and casting director, are Rawaed Asde, Rebecca Bell, Amelia Braithwaite, Ibraheem Hussain, Meg Olssen, Olivia Simpson and Evie Ward-Drummond
Scholarship Co-founders Kristian & Liam said “Melodie is a very worthy winner of the scholarship this year, from the strongest shortlist to date. We are fully invested in her exceptional talent, unique story and, now, journey – we can’t wait to watch her grow and follow in the successful footsteps of our previous winners, Madison Stock and Ayo Adegun. Covid-19 continues to make our industry less accessible for the working class actors, which is why this scholarship is so important. We will continue to support working class actors through our scholarship and workshops and can’t wait to return in 2022.”
The panel included Ian Aryeh (Resident Director for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Showcase), Jaz Hutchins (Company Director of GoHub), Scarlett Maltman & Mary Burch BME (for Industry Minds), Liam McLaughlin, Kristian Wall & Kyle Rowe (for Just Add Milk), Faye Timby (Casting Associate at Sophie Holland Casting) and Luke Westlake’s parents Bridgette and Lee Westlake.