The Artists of Colour Initiative (AOC) is a scholarship competition designed to provide financial assistance and industry support to 6 exceptionally talented Theatre performers, based in Australia that identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or People of Colour.


The initiative was born from a recognition of the underrepresentation of Bla(c)k and Indigenous people,
as well as People Of Colour in the Australian Theatre Industry.
The aim of the scholarship is to ensure participation within the field of Musical Theatre amongst these very communities.




For each round applicants will submit unlisted YOUTUBE links via email. The the subject line submission emails should read:


The criteria for submissions is as follows:

  • All singing/rapping videos: 3 minutes maximum, 1-take (no editing), mid shot from the waist up, live or pre-recorded backing. Ensure you are well lit.
  • All dance/movement videos: 1.5 minutes maximum, 1-take (no editing), may be choreographed or improvised. Applicants must be clearly visible.
  • All monologues: 3.5 minutes maximum, 1-take (no editing), mid shot or long shot. Ensure you are well lit.

First Round

To apply, submit the following:

  • 1x headshot
  • 1x Video of you singing or rapping any song from a musical
  • 1x Video of you dancing/moving to any song from a musical
  • 1x Introduction video (include your name, age, ethnicity, names of the songs you are singing and dancing to as well as which musicals they are from)
  • 1x Typed response to the question: “How would you spend $5000 to further your training/career?” (300 words maximum)
  • In your email please include if you would be interested in, or are considering attending a full-time musical theatre course in 2021



Please submit the following:

  • 1 x Video you singing or rapping any song from a musical. (It should contrast your FIRST ROUND song choice.)
  • 1 x Video of you performing a monologue of your choice.
  • 1 x Typed Mission Statement: outlining ideal future study plans, as well as long term goals and initiatives. (700 words maximum)

Please add your name to the subject line when submitting.



Please submit the following:

  • 1 x Video of you singing or rapping any song from a musical written by a Person Of Colour.
  • 1 x Video of you singing or rapping any song written or performed by a Person Of Colour. (Song must NOT be from a musical.)
  • 1 x Video of you dancing/ moving to any song written or performed by a Person Of Colour.
  • 1 x Video of you performing a monologue written by a Person Of Colour. (Ideally it should contrast your SEMI-FINAL monologue.)
  • 1 x Typed Response to the question: “What does being one of the top 6 Finalists of the inaugural AOC Initiative mean to you?” (700 words maximum)



100% of donations collected via our GoFundMe Campaign will be awarded to the 6 performers who reach The Finals.

(Please note all GoFundMe donations will be subject to GoFundMe’s transaction fees.)

Learn more button


50% of all donations will be awarded to the 2020 AOC Initiative Winner.


20% of all donations will be awarded to the Runner Up.


7.5% of all donations will be awarded to each of the Top 4 Finalists.


To qualify for the AOC Initiative, applicants must:

• Identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous, or People Of Colour.

• Be pursuing a career in Theatre performance.

• Be aged between 17 – 30 at the time of submission.

• Be an Australian citizen or resident.

• Not have previously secured a leading/supporting role in a mainstage Musical Theatre production.

• Not be engaged in or scheduled for performance-related work in a leading/supporting role (as above) at the time of submission.

If you are unsure about your eligibility please reach out to:


The panel consists of a team of longstanding performers, choreographers, directors, musical directors and others working in important sectors of the Theatre industry. All panellists are people who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or People Of Colour.

1. Leah Howard Crop
    Leah Howard is that quintessential quadruple-threat; performer, resident director, choreographer & mentor, with a professional career spanning more than 20 years. Leah choreographed Australia’s first online LIVE musical (amidst the Covid-19 pandemic): Who’s Your Baghdaddy or How I Started the Iraq War. Prior to this Leah was Resident Director for School of Rock. Some of Leah’s performance credits include; Disney’s Aladdin, Mary Poppins, Avenue Q, Hair, Fame the Musical & Dein Perry’s Steel City Tap Dogs (USA). Leah is the newly appointed Creative Director of Rogue La Vie Magazine – Stories of Colour & beyond. Connecting Humanity. Big Love!
    Kurt Kansley is an actor, singer, musician, writer & composer with 20 years of international experience on the stage. Some credits include The Lion King, RENT, Miss Saigon, Evita (nominated for best actor in a musical) and Ragtime (nominated for best actor in a musical). Kurt also writes & composes original musical theatre with his writing partner Oliver Lidert. Kansley & Lidert have several original musicals planned to be produced in the UK, Australia & the USA. Kurt is thrilled to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
3. Laura Tipoki Crop
    Laura Tipoki is a proud Maori, a musical director, conductor, musician and mother. Laura is thrilled to be Musical Director for the Australian Production of Hamilton. Having worked extensively throughout Australasia for the past 15 years, shows Laura has musically directed include School Of Rock, Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Les Miserables and Waitress auditions. Other credits include Wicked, Mary Poppins, Love Never Dies, Chicago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dr Zhivagos and Hairspray. Laura is honoured to be part of the AOC initiative.
4. Tim Omaji Crop
    Tim Omaji (aka Timomatic) is a multi-platinum, ARIA and Logie nominated entertainer. From dancer/choreographer, to recording artist, to multiple lead roles in musical theatre, Tim is a truly multi-faceted artist and has become a staple in the Australian entertainment industry. Tim’s musical theatre credits include FAME, In The Heights, Madiba and Saturday Night Fever alongside the legendary Marcia Hines. Tim is excited to be on the panel for the 2020 AOC Initiative.
5. Fiona Choi Crop
    Fiona Choi is proud her performing career features so many diverse & authentic stories. Fiona is best-known for Benjamin Law’s SBS comedy The Family Law (AACTA nominated Best Performance in Television Comedy) and Melbourne Theatre Company’s recent productions Torch The Place & Golden Shield. A graduate of WAAPA, Fiona’s musical theatre highlights include Dragon Lady: The Many Lives & Deaths of Anna May Wong (Adelaide Cabaret Festival), Mamma Mia! & RENT. Television highlights include Homeland, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Wentworth, Utopia, The Letdown & Mustangs FC. Fiona has also worked extensively in New York as a casting director & associate director.
6. Dean Drieberg Crop
    Dean Drieberg is a theatre director and creative producer, with a career spanning over 20 years in theatre, events and advertising in Australia, New Zealand, New York and Tokyo. Dean was recently nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Director for the 2019 Victorian tour of Sunday In The Park With George and has worked on over 20 national touring productions. Dean is an advocate for theatre that is inclusive of Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour artists, artists with a disability and non-cis gender identifying artists. Dean is excited to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
7. Bree Langridge Crop
    Bree Langridge is a proud Palawa Aboriginal woman and mother, from Lutruwita (Tasmania). She is a versatile performer, creative, choreographer & writer. Most recently Bree was the Resident Choreographer of School of Rock the Musical Australia/NZ/China. With over 15 years experience, credits include; The Wizard of Oz, The Bodyguard, Side Show, Cats the Musical – Green Room Award winners for Best Ensemble, Showboat, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and WICKED. Bree is passionate about nurturing young artists and excited to be part of the AOC initiative.
8. Sello Molefi Crop
    Sello Molefi is the Founder/ Director of Bokamoso Arts Centre in Maokeng, South Africa – a mentoring program he’s incredibly passionate about. A singer/ songwriter & curator, be on the lookout for his EP ‘Morolong’ produced by Mr Zvi Belling. Sello has well over a decade of theatre performance experience, performing throughout Australia, Shanghai, Johannesburg & on the West-End. During this time Sello also composed, directed & performed his original show ‘Mantswe’ (2009 Melbourne Fringe Festival). Sello is currently working on Hymns of Zion performance repertoire, composed for choir & band. He is excited to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
9. Yvette Lee Crop
    Yvette Lee, with well over a decade of experience, has become known as one of Australia’s most versatile Creatives. Recognised for her work over multiple platforms as Choreographer, Performer, Creative Director & Creative Producer, her contribution to television, theatre and live events has lead to a large body of Work. 2018 saw Yvette proudly appointed the role of Artistic Director of the Victorian Dance Festival. 2019 saw her obtain the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Choreography in a Musical. Yvette is honoured to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
10. Cessalee Smith-Stovall Crop 2
    Cessalee Stovall is ecstatic to join the panel, bringing an international career of film, tv, theatre & theatre education. Australian credits include the feature film “The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee”, an upcoming Netflix series & the Melbourne cast of The Book of Mormon, following a 3+ year run of the show in the US. In 2017, she founded Stage a Change, an organisation dedicated to creating professional theatre opportunities for aspiring artists of colour in Australia. Through Stage A Change, Ms. Stovall serves as a theatre diversity consultant for theatres, schools & production companies.
11. Tyrel Dulvarie Crop 2 (Square)
    Tyrel Dulvarie is a Yirrganydji man from Far North Queensland Cairns.
    Tyrel is a company artist with Bangarra Dance Theatre, based in Sydney. He joined Bangarra in 2016, making his debut season with ‘OUR land people stories.’ Tyrel’s other Bangarra Dance Theatre credits include; OUR land people stories, Bennelong, Dark Emu & 30 Years of 65000. Tyrel has performed nationally & internationally with Bangarra; in New York, Paris, Berlin, India, Japan & more. Tyrel’s other performing highlights include dancing for Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Hugh Jackman Broadway to Oz, Penelope Mullen Danse Noir, & Oscar Theatre Company Boy&Girl: Mercury Rising.
12. Thando Sikwila Crop
    Thando Sikwila – Zimbabwean born and Melbourne based singer-songwriter, Thando, has been gracing stages around Australia with her electric presence & powerhouse vocals. With her 2018 breakthrough single ‘Numb’ featuring REMI, Thando has since gone onto open for Allen Stone, Leon Bridges & R&B master Maxwell. Featured on Sampa the Great’s debut album ‘The Return’, her collaborative projects will continue well into 2020 with the pending release of her new EP ‘Life in Colour’. Thando also played the role of Effie White in the Australian premiere of Dream Girls (Stage Art). The multi-dimensional performer is forging forward to solidify her status as Australia’s newest first lady of R&B.
13. Olivia Vasquez Crop
    Olivia Vasquez is an exciting versatile performer who made her musical theatre debut in the Australian premiere of The Bodyguard. She then starred in the critically acclaimed season of In The Heights as Vanessa at Hayes Theatre Co and the Sydney Opera House. Olivia made her OA debut as Rosalia in West Side Story and most recently portrayed Anathema in Squabbalogicʼs production of Good Omens. Olivia has performed on cruise ships and has recently released her debut single ‘Move Onʼ. Olivia is honoured to be part of the incredible AOC initiative.
14. Miss Cairo Crop
    Miss Cairo is the founding Director of The People of Cabaret and has been a professional Cabaret artist for the last decade. Miss Cairo’s career has taken her around the world, headlining burlesque festivals in Europe and singing on stages in New York. Her professional theatre credits include Sex Workers Opera (UK/ NL) The Wild Side (UK/ AUS) and will be starring in Head Over Heels at The Hayes Theatre 2021. She is honoured to part of such a prestigious panel and to support a wonderful initiative!
15. Daniel J Puckey Crop
    Daniel Puckey is a Music Director, Pianist and Vocal Coach with over a decade of international experience for the stage. His theatre credits include Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, The Book of Mormon, The Wizard of Oz, The Bodyguard Musical, Kinky Boots, We Will Rock You, The Sound of Music, The Lion King, King Kong The Musical, and Hot Shoe Shuffle. Daniel has also helped conceive and develop music arrangements for various productions across Australia and Germany. He also works extensively within Performing Arts Education. Daniel is delighted to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
16. Ruva Ngwenya Crop
    Ruva Ngwenya has worked extensively in both Australia and internationally as a vocalist & actor. Some credits include The Lion King (Shenzi), Beautiful The Carol King Musical, MADIBA (Winnie Mandela) We Will Rock You, & Ragtime. Ruva has calved a successful career for herself within the entertainment industry, working in a diverse range of sectors including; guest appearance’s on hit TV soap opera Neighbours, & also releasing collections of original music including E.P ‘HUMBLE BRAG’ currently available on all streaming sites worldwide. Ruva is humbled & excited to be a part of a much-needed initiative.
17. Barry Conrad Crop
    Barry Conrad is a singer/songwriter and actor, whose career spans music, screen and stage.
    He’s opened for Brian McKnight and Craig David, toured globally and penned songs for an array of artists.
    Barry’s stage highlights include Violet and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and in 2013 he made the Top 12 of X-Factor. Barry appeared in Power Rangers: Ninja Storm and he made his feature film debut in the #1 box office hit, The Sapphires. In a career milestone, Barry originated the role of Kane Jones on TV series, Neighbours. Barry looks forward to his involvement with the AOC Initiative.
18. Vidya Makan Crop
    Vidya Makan is a critically acclaimed actor, singer and composer/lyricist having most recently starred as ‘Catherine Parr’ in Six. Her original work has garnered world wide attention and she is currently working in collaboration with Hayes Theatre Co, writing a song cycle exploring Australian Identity. Vidya’s credits include: Dot/Marie in Sunday In The Park With George which earned her a Green Room nomination for Best Performance In A Leading Role, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet and American Idiot. Championing minority voices sits at the heart of all Vidya’s work and she is honoured to be part of the AOC Initiative.
19. Will Centurion Crop
    Will Centurion is a mental health practitioner who focuses on working with actors, singers and dancers. Having worked for over 20 years as a music theatre performer his theatre credits include Saturday Night Fever, Aida, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, The King and I, The Lion King, Aladdin and In The Heights. Will operates a mental health service in Melbourne that provides performing artists strategies for performance anxiety, career stress and self-care. Since 2018 he has expanded his counselling and life-coaching services, delivering seminars such as Rewire-Repair-Reboot, Coping with Covid As Creatives and Self-Care for Actors, Singers, Dancers.
20. Chenoa Deemal Crop
    Chenoa Deemal is a proud Thiithaarr Warra Woman from the Guugu Yimithirr Nation. In 2020 she appeared in Ensemble Theatre’s Black Cockatoo directed by Wesley Enoch. In March 2019 she was in the award-winning Australian play Holy Day by Andrew Bovell in it’s New York City premiere. Late 2019 found Chenoa in Los Angeles at the Starlight Theatre performing The 7 Stages of Grieving by Wesley Enoch & Deborah Mailman, produced by Grin & Tonic which also played at the 2017 Origin’s Festival in London. In 2018 she starred in Queensland Theatre’s The Longest Minute directed by Bridget Boyle, receiving a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Matilda Awards. Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts; QUT. Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts; ACPA
21. Callum Francis Crop
    Callum Francis is an international award winning actor with over 10 years experience on Australian stages, London’s West End & Broadway.
    His theatre credits include: Hair, Ghost the Musical, Disney’s Lion King, Miss Saigon and Kinky Boots. Callum is best known for the role of Lola in the Broadway smash hit Kinky Boots. Which he won the Helpmann for best male actor in a musical. In 2019 Callum made his Broadway debut, reprising his role as Lola in the closing season of the shows 6 year run. Callum is thrilled to be on the panel for the AOC Initiative.
22. Sophia Laryea Crop
    Sophia Laryea us a Dancer, Model and Actress. She made her musical theatre debut touring Australia in Disney’s The Lion King. Sophia has also toured with MADIBA: The Musical, Cosentino and Cabaret de Paris, whilst also dancing for Dua Lipa and Jessica Mauboy. Sophia has shot for a number of international labels. Some modelling credits include; G-star, P.E Nation, Myer, Bendon, Havaianas and Cartier. Recently Sophia has been seen in TVCs for; L’Oreal, Cherry Ripe, Samsung, Bonds, and Tkmax. In 2017 she shot her first feature film playing one of the “Sakaarian Girlfriends” in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.Sophia is thrilled to be a part of the AOC Initiative.
23. Yasmin Kassim Crop
    Yasmin Kassim is an Indian/ Malay/ Australian actress, writer & comedian living in LA. Most recently Yasmin was the first Australian performer & writer in the CBS Comedy Diversity Showcase. Some of Yasmin’s acting credits include ‘Jungle’ (opposite Daniel Radcliffe), ‘Neighbours’ & ‘Guardians of the Tomb’. Yasmin performs stand up at ‘The Laugh Factory’ & ‘Comedy Store’, drawing inspiration from her Muslim Australian family and her time competing at Miss World. Yasmin is now a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade & also a writer/ producer/ actor on the theatres South Asian AF digital team. Yasmin is currently shopping around her pilot ‘Multiracial’ inspired by her journey as an LGBTQ modern day South Asian woman. In 2020 you can catch Yasmin on ABC’s ‘Rosehaven’ as Farrah.
24. Steph Tisdell Crop
    Steph Tisdell is one of the brightest stars in Australian comedy. In 2014 she won the Deadly Funny National Grand Final & she’s now a regular on television shows such as; Hughesy We Have A Problem and The Project. Her debut show, Identity Steft, won the weekly award for best emerging talent (2018 Adelaide Fringe) and was nominated for Best Newcomer Award (Melbourne International Comedy Festival).Steph was also a part of the Aboriginal Comedy All Stars line-up, selling out their festival run at Edinburgh Fringe, before heading to London’s Soho Theatre. As a proud Ydinji woman Steph loves to share her experiences and what her culture means to her – she hopes that her visibility will empower other Aboriginal artists to come forward and to showcase why they’re the funniest race in the world.
25. Tarik Frimpong Crop 2
    Tarik Frimpong (he/him) is the founder of the Artists of Colour Initiative (AOC).
    Tarik appears as Angus in the Disney feature film Mary Poppins Returns, where he worked alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda. Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns,Tarik was in pre-production for a new Disney feature film shooting in London. Some of his theatre credits include; Aladdin (West End), Bring It On: The Musical, The Lion King, MADIBA: The Musical and ZUP (Geneva, Switzerland). Tarik will also appear on Disney+ as Prince Abdullah/ Ensemble in Disney’s filmed version of Aladdin – the musical.
    Through his work with the AOC Initiative, Tarik aims to champion and celebrate Bla(c)k, Indigenous and People of Colour theatre performers – whilst also pushing forward the conversation, regarding racial diversity in the Australian theatre industry.


Dane Ram HeadShot 2
    Dane Ram
    Website Developer
Kara B Crop
    Kara Bertoncini
    Media Advisor
Katie Long Crop
    Katie Long
    Alt Text/Image Description Writer
6. Dean Drieberg Crop
    Dean Drieberg
    Project Manager


AOC Initiative is thrilled to be working in collaboration with the below mentioned Australian Performing Arts Universities.
The below scholarships (whilst varying slightly) are specifically for Black, Indigenous or People of Colour identifying performers to attend tertiary Musical Theatre courses, and receive their Diploma in Musical Theatre.

To apply head to the links below and for finer details check out the AOC Initiative instagram page.

Please Note: These scholarships are separate to the AOC Initiative prizes, and you dot not have to have applied for the AOC Initiative to apply for these affiliate scholarships.

For any enquiries please reach out to:



The People of Cabaret is a collective made by, and for, artists of colour – and they are dedicated to ensuring diversity and inclusion in the performing arts sector. Be sure to checkout their website, and if you are Bla(c)k, Indigenous or a Person of Colour creative/ performer sign up for ‘The Directory’.
The Directory is an initiative to keep record and create a database of the beautiful diversity across our entire arts industry and specifically champion artists of colour.


ILBIJERRI is the longest established First Nations theatre company in Australia. They create present and tour powerful and engaging theatre by First Nations artists that gives voice to their cultures. ILBIJERRI is committed to growing a sustainable and vibrant First Nations arts ecology and is investing in the next generation of First Nations theatre makers and industry professionals.


Broadway Black is an organisation that fosters and inspires artistic diversity and excellence in theatre. Dedicated to highlighting the achievements and successes of Black theatre artists on and off the Broadway stage, Broadway Black, founded in 2012 by Drew Shade, has continued to grow into a one-of-a-kind multimedia venture with editorial content that showcases the best and the brightest stars across the industry. It’s the place for Black people to see themselves centre stage. This is what happens when the theatre goes dark.


For submissions and further enquiries: