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26th February, 2021

Central Announces the Louis Mahoney Scholarships to support Black and Global Majority Students


Central is pleased to announce, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, a new series of major Scholarships to encourage applications from British students who identify as Black and Global Majority.

The Scholarships will help ensure that the diverse voices of our communities are represented amongst those benefitting from our training for the performing arts and are therefore represented in the stories being told on screen and stage.

The Louis Mahoney Scholarships, named in memory of alumnus Louis Mahoney, will support one undergraduate and one postgraduate candidate in each of the next three years, beginning from the academic year 2021/22. Scholarship recipients will be awarded £5,000 for living costs, with the amount paid out in equal parts across three years for undergraduates, or in one installment for postgraduates.

Acclaimed actor and Central alumnus Louis Mahoney campaigned for anti-racism and racial equality within the acting profession throughout his life.  He was born in the Gambia and came to study in the UK in the 1960’s, eventually undertaking his training as an actor at Central.

Alongside his prolific acting career, he was a passionate and committed anti-racist activist.  He helped found the Performers Against Racism and the Black Youth Workshop that provided a platform for fledgling actors; he was elected to the council of the actors’ union, Equity, and was chairman of Equity’s Afro-Asian committee (now the Minority Ethnic Members Committee) where he worked tirelessly to persuade broadcasters and drama schools to reform their attitudes to diversity.  He later became Vice President of Equity for two years from 1994.

One of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s first Black actors, his stage credits are prolific and include performances at the Young Vic, Theatre Royal, Leicester Curve, National Theatre, Royal Course, Almeida, Oxford Playhouse, Gaiety Theatre Dublin and, most recently, the Bridge Theatre.

His film credits included Richard Attenborough’s 1987 drama Cry Freedom and 2013’s captain Phillips.  On TV, he appeared in productions including Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who.

Of the new Louis Mahoney Scholarships his daughter, Sashola Prestcote , said:

My sisters and I are delighted with the creation of a Scholarship in our father’s name.  His passion for mentoring and encouraging young actors lives on in this wonderful gift of  opportunity. A legacy for his 5 grandchildren to be inspired by and proud of.

Interim Vice Dean and Deputy Director of Teaching and Learning at Central, Dr Broderick Chow, said:

The Louis Mahoney Scholarships are an institutional commitment to equity and inclusion and I’m pleased that they bear the name of an actor who was both an alumnus and a champion for racial equality in the industry.

Although this is just the beginning of what Central can do to address the underrepresentation of Black and Global Majority artists in the theatre and film and TV industries, the Louis Mahoney Scholarships (alongside our other scholarships, bursaries, and fee waivers) is a step towards ensuring that finances are no longer a barrier for any student who wants to attend Central.

Central’s Inclusion Specialist, Programme Leader for the Learning Centre, Lecturer on the MA Acting for Screen course and the Founding Chair of the School‘s Global Majority Staff Network, Dr Javeria Shah, said:

I am delighted that Central will be launching the Louis Mahoney Scholarships in support  of talented Global Majority students that want to undertake training here. These  scholarships are a fitting tribute to inspirational alumnus Louis Mahoney and his lifelong  work towards campaigning for equity in the performing arts industries.

Monica Rose, the Central Student’s Union Black and Ethnic Minorities Officer, Chair of the Black and Global Majority Students’ Network, and Spotlight Student Ambassador for Race and Equity, said:

Louis Mahoney knew drama schools needed to reform their attitudes to overcome racism.  He also knew how hard it was to be a person of colour. This scholarship will provide the Central student community with the support it deserves.

I’m overwhelmingly proud that something that started off as just an idea we have now managed to get up and running, and that it will help BGM students to achieve their full potential, taking away some of the financial burden. We honour him now and create this award in his memory. Thank you for paving the way for my generation, so I follow in your footsteps and pave the way for the next generation to come.

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