Diversity and Inclusion

“Our voices need to be heard now.”

Second City alum Keegan-Michael Key


In 1992, Frances Callier established the Outreach Program as a part of The Second City Training Center with the mission of providing new voices of color to the community, as well as an opportunity to learn at The Second City. As a result of the initiative, pioneering improv groups in the LGBTQI, Asian American, African American, and Latinx communities formed, including GayCo Productions, Stir Friday Night, and Salsation Theatre Company.

Dedicated to cultivating new talent of color in improv and sketch comedy and increasing educational access to under-represented communities, The Second City Outreach & Diversity division expanded to a full-year program in 2002 under the leadership of Dionna Griffin-Irons and evolved into Diversity & Inclusion in 2016.

The Diversity & Inclusion Program continues to uphold The Second City’s ongoing commitment to expose the art of improvisation to new voices, new talent, and organizations seeking to grow beyond their existing perspective. In addition to The Second City’s internal efforts within our theatres and classrooms, Second City Works is also bringing engaging, relevant programs to corporate organizations and talent seeking to foster an inclusive environment.

Value Statement

The Second City believes that everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation should experience the gift of improvisation and the many life skills it helps develop in a safe, supportive way and is actively working to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of our institution and associated programming. Our goal is to open doors, create a bridge, and make this work accessible and inclusive. We firmly believe that unique experiences and points of view are at the core of the art form our artists create and reflective of the audiences, students, and clients we serve.


Our goal is to open doors, create a bridge, and make this work accessible and inclusive  by:

  • Fostering community with cultural sensitivity
  • Increasing access to our programs, scholarships, and performances to underserved communities
  • Facilitating and engaging in dialogue across departments on empathy, equity, diversity and inclusion

Let Us Come To You

Bring Second City’s Diversity & Inclusion programming to your university, women’s shelter, gender studies class, or company.

Our customizable, scalable offerings include:

  • Guest workshops, speaker visits, and lecture demos by Second City Director of Diversity Talent Inclusion and Development, Dionna Griffin-Irons
  • Customized workshops that focus on cultural competency, empathy, and social emotional intelligence
  • Inter-company referrals for corporations, school workshops, and professional development

Bob Curry Fellowship

NBC Bob Curry Fellowship

The Second City is proud to announce our 7th annual Bob Curry Fellowship with generous support from NBC. This ten-week master program offers up to 16 fellowships to qualifying actors and improvisers from diverse multicultural backgrounds to train and study at The Second City Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto. Taught by Second City’s top professional instructors and directors, this rigorous fellowship is designed for serious minded talent seeking a career in sketch comedy. The highly competitive program is tuition-free and awarded to exceptional talent selected by audition and adjudicated by Second City directors and producers. The program’s culminating showcase is presented to industry execs, NBC casting and Second City producers and directors.

Since the inaugural launch in 2014, over 50% of the graduating fellows have been hired by various Second City divisions, including The Second City Touring Company, Resident Stage Ensembles, Theatricals and cruise ship companies, and as teachers for The Second City Training Center.

Are you the next Bob Curry Fellow?
Check out last year’s Bob Curry Fellows…  showcase.

Who is Bob Curry?

Bob Curry was Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actor and director and the first African-American to join The Second City’s resident company. A former workshop student, he joined the Mainstage cast in 1966 before joining what evolved into the first-ever Touring Company.

Second City launched the Bob Curry Fellowship program in 2014 to honor Curry’s trailblazing contributions and encourage diverse voices to pursue careers in comedy at Second City and beyond.

The Bob Curry Fellowship program is specifically seeking talent/applicants including, but not limited to, those who identify as any of the following: Asian Pacific, Subcontinent Asian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern.

Click on your city for more info about auditions and submissions.

Emerging Voices Scholarship

Apply Now!

NBC Second City Emerging Voices Scholarship Awards:

Three scholarships, one in each of the cities with The Second City Training programs – Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, is awarded for one year in advanced improvisation or sketch writing training. Applications are particularly welcome from candidates from diverse communities. Qualified talent is selected from annual auditions as applicable in each city.

Download the Second City NBC Emerging Voices Scholarship application

Inquiries are open at all theatres.


E-mail outreach@secondcity.com for questions or more info.

Shows & Festivals


June 11-14, 2020

Now in its 6th year, the Break Out Comedy Festival features a dynamic partnership between NBC and The Second City. Showcasing comedic talent alongside established headliners from around the U.S. and Canada, the festival has become an annual favorite for top casting agents and producers from HBO, NBC, the Tonight Show, and industry movers and shakers. Each night boasts cutting-edge performances featuring some of the country’s best young, diverse talent in sketch, improvisation, and stand-up.

Talent submissions open February 2020 to submit a one-minute stand-up clip or comedic act (preferably in front of a live audience or set) for festival consideration. Early submissions will not be reviewed.

Headshots, resume and video link can be uploaded below. For additional inquiries, e-mail outreach@secondcity.com.







Contact & More Info

Contact Us

To inquire about college workshops, lecture demonstrations or a visit to your school or university, contact:

Dionna Griffin-Irons
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
312-664-4032 ext. 3577

Diversity Relationship

Build a Relationship with Outreach

Let us come to your university, gender studies class or shelter. We will share our outreach with your community.

Find out how we transform lives and communities.

Off the Cuff Podcast

Bob Curry Audition Tips

Are you an actor or improviser who recently submitted for an audition slot for the Bob Curry Fellowship? Listen to this podcast to get prepared and hear what the Fellowship is all about!
Featuring Dionna Griffin-Irons, Matt Hovde, Peter Kim, and Torian Miller

Diversity Partners

A few of our partners…
After School Matters
United States Embassy
Norway & Latvia
Urban Prep Academy
YMCA Black and Latino Achievers
NBC Universal
Big Brothers Club
Columbia College
University of Chicago
Northwestern University
A Long Walk Home
DePaul University