ACT Announces Their Sensational Six Finalists

Six gifted Grade 12 scholars are one step closer to claiming their share of R800 000 to help realise their dream of studying the performing arts at tertiary level.

This incredible opportunity has been granted to them as part of the 8th annual Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Scholarship Programme.

Since 2009, ACT has been supporting arts students through this Programme. The only difference this year is that there are more Scholarships on offer to Grade 12 scholars and first and second year university students than ever before.

Funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and supported by the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Organisation (DALRO) and the Nedbank Arts Affinity, the 2016 Scholarships Programme will change the lives of dramatic arts, singing, dance and musical theatre scholars and students with scholarships to the value of R800 000.

After a nationwide search, ACT has selected six Grade 12s from across the country. They are; Sibusiso Nhlapo (20) from Alberton, Gauteng, National School of the Arts; Tamzin Williams (17) from Cape Town, Western Cape, The Settlers High School; Thandaza Silwane (18) from Lady Grey, Eastern Cape, Lady Grey Arts Academy; Jeani Heyns (18) from Cape Town, Western Cape, Bloemhof Girls High; Virtuous Kandemiiri (17) from Centurion, Gauteng, Lyttelton Manor High School; and Robin Castle (17) East London, Eastern Cape, Stirling High School.

2015 Scholarships recipients left-to-right Carla Smith, Caleb Heynes and Andiswa Mbolekwa
2015 Scholarships recipients left-to-right Carla Smith, Caleb Heynes and Andiswa Mbolekwa

ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs says of the six finalists: “It takes a rare combination of natural talent, potential for growth, charisma, and a bit of magic that leads to a candidate being selected as one of six finalists from among 300 participants. It’s going to be a very tough final round and we are excited to host these exceptional young performers and see them battle it out on stage.”

All exceptionally excited about making it through the audition process, this super six all firmly believe winning an ACT Scholarship would offer them a life-changing opportunity.

The Western Cape’s Jeani Heyns explains; “Have you ever watched fireworks go off at the start of a new year? The spectacular display ignites feelings of excitement, and awe, but also a faint nervousness, because you know they signify the start of a new year. I would say my feelings toward the finals are similar, because the finals and winning the Scholarship signifies my first step toward my future as a performer.”

She says that winning a Scholarship would mean the world to her. “It would help write a prominent chapter in my story,” she concludes.

Fellow Western Cape scholar, Tamzin Williams believes her acting and singing capabilities coupled with her confidence helped her catch ACT’s attention. “I feel overwhelmed yet humbled and blessed that I was chosen to be one of the finalists. It just proves that hard work does pay off when you set your mind to achieve something.”

Virtuous Kandemiiri from Centurion says winning a Scholarship would not only allow her to do what she feels most natural doing, it would also help lift the financial burden of tertiary education fees off her family. “Performing arts is a huge part of my life, a natural sense of being home and doing what I believe I was born to do. This opportunity is everything that I need right now,” she says.

These sentiments are echoed by the Eastern Cape’s Thandaza Silwane. “Due to financial constraints, winning a Scholarship would mean the world to me. I wouldn’t really have to stress about how and where I am going to receive money for university. It definitely places me a few steps closer to my dream.”

And while ecstasy and pride fill all the finalists, Gauteng’s Sibusiso Nhalpo says he still hasn’t shaken his nerves. “There is still so much to do in order to make sure that I get the Scholarship,” he says. “But come what may, I am ready and so thrilled to have achieved a final spot. Winning this scholarship would mean perfecting my craft and getting the chance to study and meet other artists from different parts of South Africa, it would also mean working hard and being afforded the opportunity to study and broaden my horizons.”

Broad horizons are what all the finalists have their sights set on, but the Eastern Cape’s Robin Castle says he hopes the fact that he’s realising his dream will encourage others.

“Winning this scholarship would mean the world to me, as I did this audition not only for myself but to bring my message across; that a dream is just a step away from reality, and winning the Scholarship would mean that I can bring this message to life.”

The six Grade 12 scholars will showcase their talent at the final event on Monday, 10 October at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The winners will be named on the night.

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Issued by The Famous Idea on behalf of The Arts & Culture Trust

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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