Student Wins Acting Award

Sophomore Kiayla Jackson sits with fellow theatre performance major John Hayes during a dress rehearsal of “The Philadelphia Story.” Jackson won the Region III Irene Ryan Scholarship during the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January.

By Frank Radosevich II
January 18, 2013

Bradley theatre major Kiayla Jackson is only a sophomore but she is already making a splash on the stage.

This month, Jackson won the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) and will compete for one of two national Irene Ryan awards in April. She is the first Bradley student to win at the regional competition and advance to the national finals.

A sophomore from Sauk Village, Ill., Jackson will be among 16 collegiate actors competing for the coveted acting scholarships, worth $2,500 toward her education, on stage at the KCACTF finals in Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.

At the regional competition, which included student performers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, Jackson and her acting partner, junior theatre major Angelica Richardson, presented one comedic and one dramatic scene before advancing on to the final round where the pair reprised the scenes and Jackson performed a monologue. Jackson learned she won at the end of the five-day festival.

“Every time we advanced we were so excited,” Jackson said. “I don’t think we expected to make it past the second round.”

A judge nominated Jackson last year to participate in the regional festival after seeing her performance in Bradley’s November production of "The Philadelphia Story." Jackson played the role of Elizabeth Imbrie, a photographer for a tabloid magazine, and made a strong impression with the audience, said adjunct professor of theatre Sarah Salazar ’08.

“Kiayla is naturally very gifted when it comes to acting,” Salazar said. “She’s a sophomore and has a great future ahead of her.”

Along with Jackson, nine other students were nominated to attend the KCACTF though Jackson was the only nominee able to participate. In addition to competing, Bradley students participated in workshops, auditioned for productions and attended plays performed during the festival.

Jackson said she and her partner, fellow theatre major Angelica Richardson, were thankful for Salazar’s guidance and suggestions before and during the competition. She said Salazar’s support improved her work and how she approached each scene.

“Sarah was our third eye who came in and cleaned everything up,” Jackson added.

The Irene Ryan Foundation awards the scholarships to recognition and fund the work of student performers. The foundation, named after the late actress Irene Ryan who is best remembered as Granny from “The Beverly Hillbillies,” has hosted the regional festivals since 1972.