TCG Announces 12th Round of Fox Actor Fellows

The new cohort includes Shawn Hamilton, Phillip Luna, Nicky Paraiso, Esteban Andres Cruz, Autumn Ness, Celeste Den, and Sarita Ocón.

NEW YORK CITY: The William & Eva Fox Foundation and Theatre Communications Group (TCG) have announced the 12 round of Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships recipients. Funded by the Fox Foundation and administered by TCG, the fellowship is designed to further actors’ artistic and professional development, and is one of only a few programs of its kind for actors in the country.

“The Fox Foundation expresses our continued appreciation of the long-term collaborative relationship between Fox and TCG,” said Robert P. Warren, president of the Fox Foundation, in a statement. “This program has provided extraordinary opportunities for Fox Fellows to further their artistic development and enhance their craft. The proposals from this year’s recipients hold great promise, not only for them personally and professionally, but also for their sponsoring theatres and the communities they so richly serve.”

“Actors are the world’s great alchemists, rendering multiple aesthetic traditions and the visions of their fellow collaborators into a fully-realized, living whole,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG, in a statement. “Thanks to our enduring partnership with the Fox Foundation, this program empowers these actors to expand the range of their craft and the depth of their relationships to their communities.”

The Fox Foundation resident actor fellowships awarded grants totaling more than $207,500 in awards and student loan repayments through two categories: Exceptional Merit, for actors with 10 years or more of professional experience, and Distinguished Achievement, with supports actors who over 20 years or more of experience have amassed a substantial body of work.

The Fox Foundation fellows and host theatres are:

Distinguished Achievement

Shawn Hamilton, Alley Theatre, Houston. Hamilton will engage with residents of several historically black neighborhoods of Houston as well as local musicians as he researches the city’s jazz history, with the intent of creating a piece about Houston for Houstonians. Hamilton has worked with the Alley, Guthrie Theater, Stages Repertory Theatre, Main Street Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Penumbra Theatre, Ordway Center, and Ten Thousand Things Theater.

Phillip Luna, Su Teatro, Denver. Luna’s goal is to build a bridge and find parallels between the Group Theatre acting techniques he has practiced for more than 30 years, the styles of acting used in the Teatro Chicano Movement (Teatro for short), and carpas or tent shows. Phillip has worked with Spotlight Theatre, Su Teatro, The Betsy Stage, Spark Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, Aurora Fox, Mercury Theatre, Denver Civic Theatre, Industrial Arts Theatre and The Avenue Theatre.

Nicky Paraiso, La MaMa ETC, New York City. Paraiso will create a new collaborative dance-theatre work, Now My Hand Is Ready for My Heart: Intimate Histories, an evening-length work exploring how a generation of artists deal with aging, individually and collectively, with a cast of esteemed choreographer/performers. Nicky, who has been with La MaMa ETC for 40 of their 56 years,  has worked and developed work at Dublin Theatre Festival, Singapore Initiation Performance Festival, Trinity College/Hartford CT, Muhlenberg College, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, National Asian American Theatre Company, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Dance Theater Workshop, Dixon Place, HERE, Artists Space, The New Museum, BACA Downtown, and Performance Space 122, among others.

Exceptional Merit

Esteban Andres Cruz, 16th Street Theater, Chicago. Cruz will empower audiences in his hometowns of Berwyn and Cicero—predominantly Latinx neighborhoods near the west side of Chicago—by collaborating with 16th Street Theater to create a new solo play: A Cross-Eyed, Queer Mexi-Rican’s History of America.  With original songs, standards, and ballet folklórico, Cruz will recount the mutual histories of Mexican-Americans/Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, perform at 16th Street Theater, and tour to audiences of adults and students in bilingual presentations. Cruz has also worked with Steppenwolf Theatre, the Factory Theater, Victory Gardens Theatre, and the Hypocrites, and won a Joseph Jefferson Best Actor Award for Jesus Hopped the A Train.

Celeste Den, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, Calif. Den’s fellowship will focus on developing skills as a self-generating theatre artist, as she trains with the SITI Company to refine her physicality and learn the Lecoq technique for physicalizing original narratives so she can develop a solo piece utilizing stories from her own experience as an undocumented immigrant, as well as stories from the Asian and Latinx undocumented communities in Los Angeles and Orange County. Celeste received her BFA in Theatre from the University of Florida and her MFA in Acting from California Institute of the Arts, and has worked with South Coast Rep, Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center for New Performance, LA Women’s Shakespeare, East West Players and Playwrights’ Arena.

Autumn Ness, Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis. Ness will develop a solo pre-school production based in Dadaist sound poetry, with a focus on theatre, for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autumn’s vision is to create work that reimagines the concept of audience inclusion and increases access to an underserved group of children, educating herself by studying with Tim Webb and Oily Cart Theatre in London, attending at the Big Umbrella Festival in New York (the first festival specifically for audiences with ASD), interviewing experts in the field of child autism, and conducting in-school workshops with special education classrooms. In her career at Children’s Theatre, she has workshopped, developed, and performed in more than 60 productions, collaborating with internationally renowned teams to create new works and world premieres.

Sarita Ocón, PlayMakers Repertory, Chapel Hill, N.C. Ocón will have the opportunity to perform in two mainstage productions at PlayMakers, the range of which will showcase and explore both Sarita’s specific Latinx identity and her formidable skills as an actress, in the world premiere Leaving Eden and a new adaptation of Brecht’s Galileo. The fellowship will support Sarita’s interest to develop new models of community engagement in and around these productions, in a region where the Latinx population has nearly doubled in the new millennium. Sarita has performed with Arizona Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, BRAVA Theater Center, California Shakespeare Theater, Gala Hispanic Theatre, Golden Thread Productions, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, San Francisco International Arts Festival, San Francisco Playhouse, ShadowLight Productions, Teatro Visión and Ubuntu Theater Project.

The Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships panel included J. Nicole Brooks, actor/artist; Billy Hopkins, casting director, Billy Hopkins Casting; Anthony Rodriguez, co-founder/producing artistic director, Aurora Theatre; Sherri Young, executive director, African-American Shakespeare; and Grace Zandarski, assistant professor, Yale School of Drama. The panel’s recommendations were presented to Robert P. Warren, President of the Fox Foundation. The Fox Foundation made the final selection of the Round 12 recipients.

The William & Eva Fox Foundation was established in 1987 by Belle Fox in honor of her parents, who founded the Fox Film Corporation. The Foundation has awarded more than $3 million in fellowships to 348 actors since 1994. The Fox Foundation is the largest U.S. grant maker dedicated to the artistic and professional development of theatre actors, and one of very few that provides direct financial support to individual actors. In 2017, the Fox Foundation was awarded TCG’s National Funder Award.