By Sammy Taliercio
Receiving either a scholarship or fellowship would be an immense honor for any college student and Gabby Scott had the rare privilege of being awarded both a scholarship and a fellowship in the spring semester of 2021.
An aspiring stage manager, Scott was named a recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region 4 Stage Management Fellowship, a prestigious program that selects college students based on work they complete in their department’s productions and will allow her to develop her knowledge and skills as a stage manager under the guidance of professionals in the field.
“My boyfriend was actually sitting next to me during the Zoom call when they announced it and said my name, and he got all excited and tried to hug me while I was still in the middle of the Zoom call with my camera on,” said Scott, a junior majoring in both theatre and women’s gender and sexuality studies at Georgia Southern University.
As a theatre professor in the communication arts department on the Statesboro campus, Lisa Abbott has been teaching Scott since her freshman year and wasn’t surprised to hear Scott was chosen to participate in the fellowship.
“She’s just got a real open, welcoming demeanor and at the same time she’s so good at what she does, you trust her,” said Abbott. “And that’s gonna be the thing that makes her successful in her career, and it’s part of why she got both the scholarship and the Kennedy Center fellowship.”
Not only has Abbott taught Scott for nearly four years, but Abbott also serves as chair of the KCACTF Region 4, the same organization that awarded Scott the fellowship.
“Because I’m chair, I get all of the notifications before the students get it so I kind of knew before she did,” said Abbott. “She was given the award at a special, virtual session for stage managers and I knew about it ahead of time.”
According to Abbott, there have been former students at Southern who have received Kennedy Center fellowships for acting, designing and other areas. Scott, however, is the first stage manager from the GS’ theatre department to receive the honor.
“I was definitely surprised by it, I think a lot of that comes from doubting my abilities sometimes,” said Scott. “I’m also excited to have opportunities to learn from even more people than I have so far.”
In addition to receiving the Kennedy Center fellowship, Scott is also one of 15 recipients of the Cody Renard Richard Scholarship, which aims to recognize and educate students in the theatre industry who are black, Asian, Latinx, indigenous or people of color.
As a black student who attends a predominantly white university, Scott was pleasantly surprised to see how her scholarship award was acknowledged by GS.
“The fact that Georgia Southern is helping me celebrate my achievements and making sure they’re noticed and heard is really important,” said Scott. “Especially in a primary white institution, it’s really important to celebrate your students of color and their accomplishments just as much as other students are celebrated.”
Scott shared that though the application process was meant to be a quick and simple review of an application video and a copy of her resume, the notification was delayed nearly two months due to unforeseen circumstances.
“It’s okay because I’m really excited to get to hear about other people’s experiences and grow as an artist and as a person while learning from people that have been through it and can help me through it,” said Scott.
Following the conclusion of the fellowship program and her graduation from Georgia Southern in the fall semester of 2022, Scott plans to dedicate her career to ensuring more artists of color are given space in the theatre industry to tell their stories.
“Right now, theatre is going through a really big evolution regarding diversity and inclusivity,” Scott said. “I want to be able to aid in that process and make sure that different stories are told instead of the same ones we’re always used to.”