The 2012-2013 Lois Lowry Scholarship winner was just announced, and this year Erin Stapleton was chosen as the lucky recipient. The award was created in 2007 as a merit-based scholarship that is given annually to a deserving student for participation in First Stage Theater Academy programming throughout the year. Lowry is a prolific figure in children’s and young adult fiction and has penned more than thirty books, including The Giver and Number the Stars (for which she was awarded Newbery Medals).
We found time to catch up with Erin (who just wrapped up playing Meg Murry in First Stage’s A WRINKLE IN TIME) to ask her all about the scholarship!
How do you feel about winning the scholarship?
I am so profoundly grateful for this scholarship and honor. When I first heard John Maclay [First Stage Associate Artistic Director and Director of the Academy] announce my name, I was overwhelmed with excitement and completely humbled. To be seen by my role models, the people I look up to most at First Stage, as a special part of the community is a gift that I am truly thankful for. And the scholarship part, beyond the recognition, is fantastic, because it gives me the opportunity to come back and learn more and enjoy this great place for another year! It is also an honor to be considered in the company of previous award winners. They are individuals who I really look up to and admire their work.
What is your favorite thing about performing at First Stage?
My favorite thing by far is the people. I have never met more accepting, supportive, loving people. I will have a crummy day at school and go to rehearsal and instantly feel my spirits lifted because people are actually smiling and enjoying what they are doing. I am also grateful for the environment First Stage offers. I can be creative and do something “crazy” that is encouraged, where anywhere else I would be ridiculed for or laughed at. Everyone else here is working on character and finding their way, so I have no reason to be insecure.
What are you most looking forward to for next year’s Academy sessions and First Stage’s 2012-2013 season?
I am definitely looking forward to Summer Academy. Last year was my first summer, and I cannot wait to go back. There is nothing better than being with your best friends while doing what you love and experiencing the wonder of theatre ALL in one summer. I also am greatly anticipating Young Company next year. It will be my third year as a member, and I am much better for it. Each week I gain so much from my teachers and even my fellow students. I look forward to enjoying all of these people I love at First Stage for one more year. And you know what? I am really looking forward to seeing the younger actors and actresses that I have had the pleasure of working with grow in the next year. It is so special to see them make good friends and shine in their classes and productions.
Erin also felt gracious by the amount of support and congratulations she has been receiving.
I have been incredibly thankful for the support of the First Stage community since I’ve received the scholarship. My fellow Academy members, friends, teachers, staff, and even parents have been amazingly kind! Everywhere I turn I get a “congratulations!” and a smile. I even received a Facebook message from a First Stage mother. I have never met her before, but that did not stop her from congratulating me. I was very moved and, once again, extremely grateful. You don’t normally encounter such kindness everyday.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Get out there! If you love to act or even if you have never before and are interested, audition! It all begins with that. Once you get the part, be a sponge. Take everything in. AND, do not let anyone convince you that what you are doing is foolish or a waste of your time; it is not. Whenever you love something and have a passion for it, it is not. Be proud!