After reviewing over 1300 applications, we are thrilled to announce the recipients of a new scholarship for diverse comedic talent in partnership with Saturday Night Live!
The creation of the SNL Scholarship, announced in October, was designed to grant comedians at varying levels of experience the opportunity to further their professional development at The Second City. In addition to receiving performance and writing training with us, recipients will be connected directly with SNL talent executives and have direct entry to submit an audition tape or sketch packet to SNL for the landmark show.
“We were blown away by the incredible submissions we received for the inaugural SNL Scholarship. We’re incredibly grateful to our friends at SNL for their shared commitment to discovering and developing bold new talent, and we know this is just the beginning for our work together,” says Jon Carr, executive producer of The Second City.
The following four scholarship recipients began training with The Second City this week:
- Alexi Bolden (she, her, hers) is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in theatre and African American Studies. I would like to extend a large thank you to Saturday Night Live and The Second City for awarding me the SNL DEI Scholarship. “I am constantly influenced and inspired by SNL to be bold with myself and, by association, with my comedy. Thank you to the wonderful people at The Second City who have been so kind throughout this entire process. I am honored to be one of the first recipients of this amazing opportunity and am eager to work with world-class professionals at The Second City to learn and refine my creative crafts!”
- Gabriela “Gabi” Castillo (she, her, hers) is an actor and teaching artist living in Chicago. Born in Havana, Cuba, she immigrated to the United States in 1998. Castillo graduated with an MFA in acting from the Professional Actors Training Program at the University of South Carolina. “If I were to describe how I feel, I would do a better job by showing it in an interpretive dance than by putting it into words. I’ve had a giddy heart since finding out that I was one of the recipients of the SNL Scholarship...This blessing has rid me of a major financial obstacle that was delaying my return to the Second City Training Center. It was at the SCTC where I first learned how to use comedy to transform into art the paradoxes of my experiences as a Cuban-American of black descent and refugee. I believe comedy is as challenging as it is rewarding, and I cannot wait for classes to start!”
- Kaili Y. Turner (she, her, hers) is a Black Indian and proud enrolled member of the Nipmuc nation, as well as a comedian, actress, writer, producer, and puppeteer. Born in Boston, MA, and raised between Mashpee, MA, and Boston, Kaili graduated from UMass Boston with a B.A in theater arts and a minor in dance. After performing in the Boston theatre scene, she moved to New York where she attended the Actors Studio Drama School MFA program. Since graduation, she has been in multiple commercials, stage plays, and film projects. “I’m so ready for this ride! I know it’s going to be challenging at times, but this comedy thing kinda has a hold on me. A year of training at Second City is definitely a bucket list item for me.”
- Morgan Van Dyne (they, them, theirs) is a Chicago-based comedian who enjoys using their platform to speak about queer identities, mental health, and disabilities. As someone who has grappled with all of these, Morgan believes that comedy has been not only a wonderful coping skill, but also a way to explore, learn, and inform. Their loftiest career goal is to show the world that you are never too broken to be happy or loveable and they have begun to achieve that goal by writing shows for The Second City Training Center, The Annoyance, The Playground, and more. Morgan has also participated in many stand-up showcases, including the Who Dis Showcase, a comedy show featuring disabled comedians. In the future, Morgan hopes to continue spreading the message of inclusivity and self acceptance in the form of belly laughs. “I’m so honored and excited to be receiving this scholarship. For me, this is an opportunity to use comedy to do good. I hope to tell new stories and amplify other less heard points of view.”
Congratulations to Alexi, Gabi, Kaili, and Morgan!