Network

Bob Curry Fellows 2023/2024

by The Second City

NOV 17, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

CHICAGO, IL – The Second City, the pioneering institution of comedy and improvisation, is proud to announce the Bob Curry Fellows for 2023/2024. Generously sponsored for the first time by Wintrust, The Second City granted 14 tuition-free fellowships to exceptional BIPOC talent from diverse cultural backgrounds.   

 

Established in 2014 and named for the first African-American to join The Second City’s resident company, the Bob Curry Fellowship has proven to be a significant initiative to nurture talent and foster diversity in the comedy industry. Offering an in-depth 15-week master program that enables qualifying actors, improvisers, music directors, and stage managers of color to train at The Second City.   

 

Meet the 2023/2024 Bob Curry Fellows!  

Aaron Alicea – Aaron Alicea is a Writer/Performer/Puerto Rican from Brentwood, NY, with a myriad of college credits from different institutions that he would like a refund for, please! He has studied comedy with The Annoyance Theatre, The Pack Theater, and The Onion. He is a producer for the variety show Everything Is Fine, Resident Company member at iO Theater, and performs solo material at whichever venue allows him. You can follow him on Instagram @theaaronalicea or be his friend on Venmo @Aaron-Alicea-2  

 

Ruby Aviña – Ruby, a Chicago native hailing from Brighton Park, is a comedy performer and writer with a focus on improv. Having graduated from the iO training program in 2019, Ruby has been actively performing, showcasing their talents in groups like Antojitos Improv and Ratas De Dos Patas, which had a successful show at Steppenwolf Theater. With a passion for exploring the intricacies of human nature through comedy, Ruby brings a unique perspective to the stage.  

 

Alexi Bolden – Alexi Bolden is from Cedar Rapids, IA and graduated from The University of Iowa with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and African American Studies. Alexi is an SNL Scholarship recipient with The Second City and has written and performed with her sketch teams at Brooklyn Comedy Collective (N.Y.), Austin Sketch Festival (TX), The Annoyance, iO and other theaters around Chicago. You can find her at @alexibolden on Instagram or on any streaming platform where she co-hosts her podcast, Academia.  

 

Mo Burns – Mo Burns is from St. Louis, MO, where he started performing at the Improv Shop Theater. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in Film Studies. When not on stage, Mo enjoys reading, watching films, catching NBA games, and eating chocolate chip cookies. Catch Mo in “Holy Fuck Comedy Hour” every Friday at midnight at The Annoyance theater, and find him performing standup across the Chicago area. You can also follow him on Instagram @jokesburns.  

 

Xzavier Dean – Xzavier is from Davenport, IA and moved to Chicago in December 2020. Before joining Bob Curry Xzavier performed at the iO with Keystone improv and served as a writer/performer with sketch group Missed Call at the Annoyance theater. Mostly just happy to be here, Xzavier enjoys the simple things in life like ice cream and a good slab of ribs. You can still catch Xzavier performing with Missed Call every Friday night at The Annoyance theater, and feel free to give him a follow on Instagram @ezrashabazz.  

 

Tara Egan – Tara Egan is a performer, a comedy writer, and a big fan of olives, and is beyond honored to be joining the incredible Bob Curry Fellowship family. Outside of Second City, she’s a contributor to The Onion and can be found performing with ComedySportz Chicago, Trapped in a Musical, RIFF, and more. Follow her adventures in comedy, cooking, and flower identification on Instagram @tara.egan. She is endlessly grateful to her mom, Tiny Cat, and Vinny, without whom she wouldn’t be here.  

 

Alphaeus Green, Jr. – Alphaeus is an experienced stage, screen, and voiceover performer who has performed as Troy Maxson in August Wilson’s Fences and has been seen on The Chi, among many other projects. Since moving to the Chicago area, he’s been a part of Foul Play and ComedySportz and is a recent graduate of the Conservatory at Second City. Alphaeus is thrilled to be a part of The Bob Curry Fellowship.  

 

Colette Gregory – Colette S. Gregory is an award-winning writer, comedian, and actress. She is the showrunner and a performer on the upcoming Chicago-based sketch show “Out of the Loop” which will be released on the Hipstr network in 2024. Colette was in the 2020 Second City Black History Month show and understudied for The Second City Mainstage and e.t.c. She toured the country using humor to teach sexual assault prevention with Catharsis Productions and produces SHADE: An Actually Diverse Comedy Show at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre Production from Northwestern University, as well as a Master of Arts and Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University–New York. You can catch her singing with RIFF: Chicago’s Music Improv Party, performing sketch comedy with Bosses in Bonnets and doing improv with Baby Wine. Colette was recently featured on the third season of HBO’s South Side. Follow her on Instagram @colettecomedy or on TikTok @colettegregory  

 

Olivia Jackson – Originally from Bellevue, Iowa, Olivia Jackson (she/her) is an actor and improviser based here in Chicago. She has a B.A. in Literature and Theatre from Saint Mary’s College and has trained at Second City and iO Theater. Recent theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom/Helena), Gather (U/S), and Hamlet (Ophelia/Claudius). Olivia also performs with improv team, The Mermaids, who have played festivals in Orlando, Kalamazoo, Miami, and the Boom Chicago Festival in Amsterdam. Follow Olivia on Instagram @livdawg3. Love to Mom, Dad, and Mads.  

 

Yamina Khouane – Yamina is first generation Texican. She has a degree in Theater & Dance (but mostly theater) from UT Austin and has trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and H.B. Studio in NYC. In Austin, she performed with several award-winning ensembles, including sketch group The Latino Comedy Project. Among her acting credits is the controversial indie film “Call Me Brother,” which stars current SNL cast member Andrew Dismukes. Yamina is also a recent graduate of Second City Chicago’s Conservatory program.  

 

Yuxin Lu – Yuxin embarked on their musical journey as a pianist, captivating audiences as a soloist and chamber musician across Europe and the United States. Yuxin ventured into the realms of short film and music production, showcasing their versatility as a sound designer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. Their expertise in recording and mixing techniques allows them to infuse creativity into every project they undertake. Notably, Yuxin recently concluded the Victor Wong Fellowship in Second City, serving as a music director. When not immersed in the world of music and audio, Yuxin finds solace in playing video games and indulging in culinary pursuits. You can check out their sound works and music at sourlyx.com. Or follow on Instagram @sourlyx.  

 

Deshawn Mason – It all started with standup for Deshawn, a devout follower of the fun. Stand-up led him to acting, improv, and traveling the country. He’s performed in comedy festivals on both coasts, headlined many a show, and, in the last year, spread his wings in the improv community, performing upwards of 150 shows. Following his foot and listening to the fun has finally brought him all the way here to Chicago. He’s excited to continue to sharpen his tool kit, and can’t wait to show you what he’s been working on all the years.  

 

Kelton Neals – Kelton Neals is from the farmlands of Oklahoma, knee deep in chickens and donkeys. Since moving to Chicago, Kelton has participated in Second City’s Archive Show and Second City’s Directors Review as a writer and actor. Along with his friend and comedy partner, Kelton wrote and performed in the two-person comedy show Better You Than Me ™ . They were also seen in I.O. Theater’s Improvised Housewives of I.O. Kelton performs standup and characters around the city is a part of the resident team Whimsy Lohan, at the I.O. Theater. Kelton enjoys reading, hanging out with his dog, over decorating his apartment, and writing sketches in their free time. You can see what Kelton is up to by visiting their Instagram @keltonneals or visiting their website at Keltonneals.com.  

 

Seth Pae – Seth Pae is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Chicago, IL. Seth has been Assistant Principal Viola of the Chicago Sinfonietta since 2022, and recently joined the Chicago-based music collective, D-Composed. He is an artistic collaborator, educator, and mentor, working with Chicago area composers, arts organizations and creators on a variety of exciting projects. Along with viola, he has an active piano-vocal career, and is a mainstay at several piano lounges across the Chicagoland area. For more info, visit sethpaemusic.com  

 

Meet the 2023/2024 Bob Curry ADs! 

Luis Cortes– Luis David Cortes is a Mexico City born, LA raised, Chicago resident. In addition to having appeared in several national commercials and TV shows, Luis has also toured with The Second City, Csz Chicago, The National Theater for Children, Story Pirates and the musical improv team, Baby Wants Candy. Most recently, Luis created the DEI dept at ComedySportz Chicago serving as Director for 5 years until 2022. Luis also assistant directed the last two ETC revues: “Eat Pray Bigfoot in Love” and “Oh the Places you’ll Glow”. 

 

Kaleb Jackson– Kaleb Jackson [they/them] is a Chicago-based performer, writer, producer and director from the suburbs of Chicagoland. Kaleb also co-founded and would later serve as Artistic Director for Vibrancy Theater, a theater company that uplifts and broadcasts Black, Indigenous and People of Color in theater at Ohio University and beyond. For business inquiries, headshots sessions or more information about Vibrancy, please visit kalebjackson.net or follow @kaleebjackson on Instagram. 

 

Meet the 2023/2024 Bob Curry Directors! 

Marla Cáceres– Marla is thrilled to be a part of the Bob Curry Fellowship as a director! She recently served as assistant director for the 111th Mainstage, Don’t Quit Your Daydream, the 46th e.t.c., Great Altercations, and has written and performed in several Second City productions, including debuts at the Kennedy Center, LaJolla Playhouse, and the Spanish/English El Show Mas Funny for the Arscht Center in Miami, her hometown. She was also a writer and performer for the acclaimed all-woman She The People, and facilitates improv workshops around the country for Second City Works. In addition to her work at Second City, Marla has worked for The Onion, writing comedy videos for multiple national brands, and performed as an improviser in several shows including the long-running improvised political satire Whirled News Tonight. She thanks her husband, James, for his never-ending love and support, and her kids Wyatt and Juniper, who are the funniest people she knows. 

 

Sabrina Odigie– Sabrina has trained and performed at famous institutions across the country, including The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Pit, The Annoyance, and more. A graduate of the Second City Directing Program, she Assistant Directed ‘Dance Like There Are Black People Watching’ (2023), the 2022 Bob Curry Fellowship, and 4-time Jeff-nominated ‘Do The Right Thing, No Worries If Not’ (2022). She also performs weekly with Mall Walkers and iO resident improv team The Paisleys (iO Theater). Follow her on IG at @sillygalbribi. 

 

Following intensive training and workshop performances, the selected fellows will be given a unique platform to shine in a series of public and industry showcases slated for February 2024  

For more information on the Bob Curry Fellowship, please contact:   

Colleen Fahey press@secondcity.com

About Wintrust

Wintrust is a financial holding company with assets of approximately $56 billion whose common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. Built on the “HAVE IT ALL” model, Wintrust offers sophisticated technology and resources of a large bank while focusing on providing service-based community banking to each and every customer. Wintrust operates fifteen community bank subsidiaries, with over 170 banking locations located in the greater Chicago and southern Wisconsin market areas. Additionally, Wintrust operates various non-bank business units including business units which provide commercial and life insurance premium financing in the United States, a premium finance company operating in Canada, a company providing short-term accounts receivable financing and value-added out-sourced administrative services to the temporary staffing services industry, a business unit engaging primarily in the origination and purchase of residential mortgages for sale into the secondary market throughout the United States, and companies providing wealth management services and qualified intermediary services for tax-deferred exchanges.

 

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