The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (JFKCTF) have chosen third-year theatre student Emma Haines and fifth-year theatre student Jesse Alvarado as nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

Their performances in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” were recognized by a representative of the JFKCPA. This performance took place last spring quarter and both actors were cast as Ensemble, respectively.

Jesse Alvarado and Emma Haines in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” (Courtesy of Department of Theatre and New Dance)

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival was started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens. Since then, 20,000 students from over 700 colleges and universities come together annually to participate and it offers students recognition for their performances in theatre.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 2019 will take place April 15 – 20, 2019.

From January 7 through March 2, 2019, thousands of student artists from eight regions will present their artistic work, but only 125 will be selected to travel to Washington D.C.

The Irene Ryan Scholarship provides financial assistance and recognition to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education and professional development.

Haines and Alvarado will be two of about 2,400 other young aspiring students who will be performing. Each year, about 300 nominees audition in each of the eight region festivals.

This is not the first time a Cal Poly Pomona student has been an Irene Ryan nominee. CPP alumna, Mary Hill (‘18, theatre), came very close to winning at last year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Haines will be at the festival for the first time and Alvarado has been to the festival before for the play “Intimate Apparel”, in which Hill competed for.

“I’m nervous, I’ve never been to KCACTF [and] this will be my first time going,” Haines said. “I don’t have any expectations at all right now.”

Alvarado said that they have a lot to work on before the festival because it is something they have never worked on before and there so many talented actors that will take part in the festival.

Haines comes from a family of actors. Her mother and father met when doing theatre work together.

She never thought that she would become a professional actor.

Alvarado grew up singing, and during sophomore year of high school, his parents wanted him to do more than just singing.

He was too nervous to audition for the sophomore musical, so he did stage crew with a broken wrist at the time.

“When I was back there, I remember watching the actors and I was like ‘wow’, I [want to] do that,” Alvarado said. “Don’t get me wrong, being backstage is so much fun, but seeing people on there, I just like felt like that was my moment.”

Both have a strong passion for the theatre arts and they do not see themselves doing anything else other than singing and acting.

Alvarado dreams of being a singer on Broadway and Haines wants to be part of television and film.

This scholarship is very important to them and even if they do not win, they will continue to work hard and keep pursing their dreams.

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