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Holloway and UGBA. (Photo by New York Stage and Film.)

UGBA and JaMeeka Holloway Win NYSAF Awards

The company has also announced their inaugural Indigenous Voices of the Northeast Residency.

NEW YORK CITY: New York Stage and Film (NYSAF) has named poet-playwright UGBA the recipient of the 2023 Founders’ Award, and writer-director JaMeeka Holloway the recipient of the 2023 Pfaelzer Award. Both will receive residency time during NYSAF’s summer season at Marist College.

The Founders’ Award for Emerging Playwrights includes a monetary award, an extended summer residency, and financial and administrative support for a project. This year’s finalists include Charlene Jean, kanishk pandey, TJ Lewis, and Lauren Whitehead.

UGBA, or Ungrateful Black Artist, is a queer poet, rapper, playwright, actor, and activist based in Brooklyn. They are the founder and host of the monthly Black queer artist showcase “Ceremonies,” and served as the script assistant for the Broadway production of Fat Ham. In 2020, Time Out NY named UGBA a “Black LGBTQ+ Playwright to Know.” They are an alum of the Public Theater‘s #BARS workshop program and a current member of their Emerging Writers Group, as well as a 2023 Artivism Fellow through the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. UGBA serves as the artistic director of the NY Writers Coalition.

The Pfaelzer Award was created in honor of former NYSAF artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer‘s 20-year commitment to the company. It includes a monetary award, residency time during the summer season, and mentorshop from Pfaelzer. This year’s finalists include Alisha Espinosa, Jessica Harris, Lauren Turner, and Rebecca Wear.

JaMeeka Holloway is a storyteller and creative producer who has worked as a director at La MaMa, the Durham Performing Arts Center, Northern Stage, Shakespeare in Detroit, the National Black Theatre Festival, Classic Stage Company, and multiple universities. She is the recipient of a 2018 Indy Arts Award and a BOLD Ventures Grant from the BOLD Theater Women’s Leadership Circle. Holloway was honored by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and governor Roy Cooper in 2019 for her contributions to the state’s arts and culture landscape. She is an alum of the Lark’s apprenticeship program and previously served as an assistant director with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and with PlayMakers Repertory Company.

In addition to the awards, NYSAF has announced their new Indigenous Voices of the Northeast Residency program, which will welcome indigenous artists to the summer season.

“Working in theatre, TV, and film for over 15 years, I’ve often noticed the absence of the ‘I’ in ‘BIPOC’ artists and their stories,” Rad Pereira, NYSAF’s director of engagement and impact, said in a statement, referring to Indigenous peoples. “This new program is a step toward being better guests and in deeper solidarity with these artists. It is an immense honor and privilege to experience these stories, which are the foundation of the rich cultural tapestry held in the memory of these lands, waters, and winds.”

This year’s residency program will be hosted by Tuscarora artist Vickie Ramirez, who will be joined by Aamjiwnaang artist Montana Adams, Cayuga artist Dawn Jamieson, and Kahnawake Mohawk artist Danielle Soames.

New York Stage and Film is dedicated to artists developing new stories for theatre, film, and beyond by supporting responsive processes and by providing an artistic home free from commercial pressures. NYSAF has been a vital incubator for emerging and established artists since 1985. The company had a budget of approximately $1.6 million as of 2021.

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