Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
BOB CURRY FELLOWSHIPVICTOR WONG FELLOWSHIPSATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SCHOLARSHIPSHOWS & FESTIVALSCONTACT & MORE INFO About Us Our diversity and inclusion efforts are an ongoing commitment to bring the improv art form…
Our diversity and inclusion efforts are an ongoing commitment to bring the improv art form to new voices, underserved communities, and talent-seeking careers at The Second City.
Our goal is to open doors, create a bridge and make this work accessible and inclusive. We believe everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, should experience the gift of improv.
Here are some of the ways we’re working to open doors and to make improv inclusive:
Bob Curry Fellowship
This 15-week master’s program offers up to 12 fellowships to qualifying actors and improvisers from diverse multicultural backgrounds to train and study at The Second City Chicago, New York, 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.
Since the inaugural launch in 2014, over 50 percent 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.
The 2024 Bob Curry Fellowship is generously sponsored by Wintrust.
Who was Bob Curry?
Bob Curry was a 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.
The 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, and Middle Eastern.
Victor Wong Fellowship
The Victor Wong Fellowship for AAPI Voices in Comedy is a first-of-its-kind fellowship providing 16 fellows annually with a tuition-free master program in improv comedy. The fellowship focuses on developing the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) talent through its 10-week program taught by The Second City’s top professional instructors and directors.
Named after The Second City’s first Asian American performer and funded by Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, and his family, the program concludes with a showcase event on a Second City stage in Chicago where the fellows present a mix of their original comedy, improvisational games, and classic scenes from The Second City archives.
Who was Victor Wong?
California native Victor Wong (1927-2001), moved to Chicago in the 1950s to study theology at the University of Chicago before becoming involved with The Second City. Mr. Wong joined The Second City at the encouragement of his close friend and famed theater academic, Viola Spolin. A fixture in the San Francisco Beat Scene of the 1950s and ’60s alongside Jack Kerouc and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mr. Wong’s acting credits included notable roles in the films “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Last Emperor,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “The Three Ninjas” series, and “The Golden Child.”
The Bob Curry Fellowship program is specifically seeking to amplify Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) talent.
The Saturday Night Live Diversity Scholarship
In partnership with Saturday Night Live, the SNL Diversity Scholarship provides tuition-free training to diverse comedic talent from varying levels of experience. In addition to receiving performance and writing training at The Second City Training Center, recipients are connected to Saturday Night Live talent executives and be able to submit an audition tape or sketch packet to SNL for the landmark show. The program concludes with a showcase event where the scholars present the materials and skills they have worked on throughout the year.
Comedians with diverse life experiences, including varying cultural and economic backgrounds, orientation, ethnicities, and points of view, are encouraged to apply.
100 Black Improvisers Scholarship
In partnership with Black Improv Alliance and the 100 Black Improvisors initiative, The Second City is committed to fulfilling scholarships for 5 new students to Level 1 of our Improv Program.
Shows & Events
2024 Black Excellence Revue: A show made up entirely of Black writers and performers, 2024 A Black Excellence Revue delivers Black excellence and Black joy performance after performance! With brand-new sketches, songs, and our world-famous improvisation, it’s no surprise in 2023 we had 10 weeks of sold-out shows! Check out upcoming show dates HERE!
Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee
The Second City established an internal DEI Council in 2020. It consists of a rotating group of 8-10 members.
The Second City DEI Committee Declaration
Our DEI Committee is dedicated to helping the organization foster an inclusive and equitable environment where diverse perspectives are embraced, valued, and celebrated. We are committed to a culture that ensures fairness, respect, and opportunities for all individuals, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or background.
To achieve this, our initiatives include:
Diverse Representation: Actively seeking diverse perspectives in decision-making processes, leadership roles, and company-wide initiatives to ensure representation across all levels of the organization.
Recruitment and Retention Strategies: Developing strategies to attract, hire, and retain a diverse workforce by reviewing recruitment practices, ensuring unbiased hiring processes, and providing mentorship and support for underrepresented groups.
Education and Training Programs: Implementing ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion training for employees to raise awareness, promote understanding, and cultivate a more inclusive mindset.
Community Engagement: Engaging with local communities and organizations to support and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond our workplace, fostering positive social impact.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establishing and supporting ERGs to provide spaces for employees from different backgrounds to connect, share experiences, and contribute to company-wide discussions and initiatives.
Reviewing Policies and Practices: Regularly assessing company policies, procedures, and practices to identify and eliminate biases, ensuring fairness and equity in all aspects of the workplace.
Feedback Mechanisms: Creating channels for open dialogue and feedback from employees to continuously improve our DEI efforts, ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard and valued.
Through these initiatives, we aim to create an organizational ethos that champions diversity, promotes equity, and fosters inclusivity. We are committed to an environment where every individual feels empowered, respected, and valued for their unique contributions, leading to a stronger, more innovative, and cohesive workplace.
A few of our past & present partners:
Black Improv Alliance
100 Black Improvisors
After School Matters
United States Embassy
Norway & Latvia
Urban Prep Academy
YMCA Black and Latino Achievers
Big Brothers Club
University of Chicago
A Long Walk Home
The family foundation of Peng Zhao
Saturday Night Live
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!