Shenandoah University will award two full, four-year scholarships to Shenandoah Conservatory as part of the first-ever Teen Actor Awards, an initiative created by Professor of Theatre and Master Teacher of Acting Larry Silverberg and launched earlier this semester.
“There has never been a competition like this,” said Silverberg. “This is a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind competition that not only allows high school seniors to compete for an impressive amount of scholarship money, but also provides additional learning and growth opportunities for high school students of all ages.”
The coveted grand prize – $160,000 in scholarship money to Shenandoah Conservatory – will be awarded to two high school seniors, one male and one female. These two winners will also receive a photo shoot in New York City with renowned headshot photographer Jeff Mosier. In addition, six other senior finalists, three male and three female, will each receive a Conservatory Award of up to $12,000 per year.
“I think it’s awesome, and I really wish it had existed when I was in high school, because senior year of high school is the worst, and I didn’t know anything about how to get into colleges,” said Shenandoah Conservatory sophomore acting major Abigail Haggerty, who serves as a student spokesperson for the contest. “So this is great because you learn how to make an audition video. I had no idea how to do that when I was a senior in high school.”
In her role as a student spokesperson, Haggerty is in the process of creating videos that will help the students understand what it’s like to be a college student majoring in acting or musical theatre, since she says it was a bit of a shock once she enrolled in her program and realized just how much hard work goes into this type of major.
“I feel lucky to be a part of this. I hope that I can be a face of what it looks like to be a college acting major or musical theatre major, and serve as a mentor from afar,” said Haggerty. “They don’t get to meet me, but they can watch the videos to understand what’s going to happen once they join a college community. Looking back when I thought about college, it was just this distant blur, but I hope this will solidify it in their minds.”
High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors who enter the competition will compete for one of seven finalist slots, one of which will receive a fully paid scholarship to the University of Hartford’s Hartt School Community Division Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) Preprofessional program. In addition, three male and three female winners from this group will each receive a fully paid College Audition Coach’s Online Prep Program in acting or in musical theatre with Mary Anna Dennard, an internationally recognized college audition coach.
As part of the $49 entry fee, students receive a copy of Silverberg’s book, “Winning Your Acting Auditions,” as well as access to an online workshop with Silverberg, “The Seven Keys to Winning Your Acting Audition.” Both will help students prepare for the competition, which includes creating a monologue video and submitting their entry by Feb. 1, 2017. Finalists will be chosen and notified later that month.
“Just by entering, you get books and you get contacts with people who know what they’re doing and know how to teach you how to audition,” said Haggerty. “If I had been able to read some of the books that they’re getting, I would know so much more. And being able to contact people? That would have been awesome to just email someone and say, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing – please help,’ and for someone to say, ‘Here – do this,’ or to be able to go online and find a video that answers your question.”
The two high school drama programs attended by the senior division winners will each receive a library of 100 theatre books from Smith & Kraus Publishers, the number one theatre book publishing company in the world.
“The mission is to give high school drama teachers the support they need to help their students be successful,” said Silverberg. “There are a great amount of resources and online tutorials not only for students through this competition, but also for teachers through the newly launched Acting Teacher Studio. I am so excited to provide this much-needed resource to drama teachers around the world.”
Rules for the Teen Actor Awards competition, including information related to the Shenandoah University admissions process, can be found at teenactorawards.com/rules.html.