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You don’t need London to achieve success on stage

Highly commended Grace Chilton and Spotlight Prize winner Mimi Ndiweni trained in Glasgow and Cardiff respectively

It’s only worth attending a drama school that is in or close to London, yes?

That’s a common assumption and you can see why. Look at a list of the top schools and where are many of them based? And when you graduate, where is most of the work to be found? London and again, London.

Well here’s an antidote to all that. This week saw the awarding of the 2013 Spotlight Prize – the competition staged among final year students nominated from a host of leading drama schools.

Staged at London’s Bloomsbury Ballroom before a judging panel including Sam West, Sarah Hadland, Kenneth Cranham, Rebecca Front and Donmar casting director Alistair Coomer among others, the ceremony provided two trophies, one for best actor and the other for the most highly commended runner-up.

This year’s respective recipients are Mimi Ndiweni and Grace Chilton. Mimi is a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, while Grace studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The RWCMD is based in Cardiff, the RCS in Glasgow.

As the award organisers observed, winning the Spotlight Prize puts you in very distinguished company. Since it was founded 59 years ago (when it was known as the Rodney Millington award), its recipients have included Judi Dench, Albert Finney, Jim Broadbent and My Family co-stars Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker.

Last year’s winner Faye Marsay, from Bristol Old Vic theatre school, is currently appearing in BBC1’s The White Queen, has been cast in film The Blecthley Circle and is filming in the third series of Fresh Meat.

Mimi Ndiweni has already been snapped up by Olivia Bell Management. Grace is currently seeking representation. Looks like she won’t be waiting long.

And let’s note the 19 other talents who took part in the competition who are:


Andrew Bailiff (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)

Bettine Mackenzie (Drama Centre London)

Billy Howle (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)

Charlotte Jacobs (Manchester Met School of Theatre)

Charlotte Knowles (Guildford School of Acting)

Daniel Abbott (LAMDA)

Flo Fields (Arts Ed London School of Acting)

Georgina Fairbanks (Oxford School of Drama)

Jessica-Lee Hopkins (East 15 Acting School)

Jim English (Rose Bruford College)

Jonno Davies (Italia Conti)

Josh Harper (Birmingham School of Acting)

Krystal Edward (Drama Studio London)

Marcus Wilkinson (ALRA)

Parth Thakerar (RADA)

Sally Geake (Cygnet Training Theatre)

Saul Matlock (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

Stefan Adegbola (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

Toni Peach (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)


If you want to read a report of The Spotlight Prize, check out Paul Vale’s review when it comes online (www.thestage.co.uk/reviews)


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