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Charles Babalola wins Alan Bates Bursary

Charles Babalola with Celia Imrie. Photo: Kit Shah (HCK Photography)
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This year’s Alan Bates Bursary for a graduating actor has been given to Charles Babalola of LAMDA.

At a ceremony at the Actors Centre in London, actor Celia Imrie presented the award to Babalola, who will receive prizes including £600 of bespoke tailoring, £1000 for courses run by the Actors Centre, a professional showreel and voicereel, plus a year’s subscription to The Stage.

He saw off competition from a shortlist comprising students Peter Mooney and Ricky Smith from Rose Bruford College, Matthew Marrs from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Anna Proctor from the Drama Centre, and Crystal Condie from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

The award was established in 2005 in memory of Alan Bates, who was patron of the Actors Centre from 1994 until his death in 2004, and is given to an exceptional young actor under the age of 30.

Babalola said: “It’s hard to put into words. The award has done so much for previous winners. In years before great actors have come out of school and haven’t really made a mark.”

Imrie told The Stage: “Alan Bates would have been so proud of this award, to give a leg up in their first year. Quite a lot of actors get stranded.”

The winner is decided through a three-stage audition process, with judges this year including casting director Cathy Willis and former EastEnders actor Anita Dobson.

Dobson, who never attended drama school, said: “The right man won. He has a beautiful speaking voice that looks forceful but has vulnerability.”

She added: “In the first year as an actor, you’re so lost. A new suit alone may be the thing that’ll make you more professional at interview.”

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