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Olivier Awards arrivals corridor (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Laurence Olivier Bursary

We established the Laurence Olivier Bursary in 1987 to commemorate the 80th Birthday of the great British actor Laurence Olivier.

Laurence Olivier was passionate about helping young actors with the potential to make a major contribution to British theatre, and the Laurence Olivier Bursary seeks to do this by assisting talented drama students facing financial difficulties during their studies. The demands of their final year makes part-time jobs almost impossible, which is why the bursary can make such a huge difference.

Each year principals from drama schools across the UK submit nominations for the bursary scheme. Nominees should be approaching their final year and fulfill the dual criteria of financial need and potential talent.

About 40 students are entered each June by drama school principals across the UK and appear before a panel of theatre industry professionals – usually producers and casting directors – where they give a 10-minute audition and an interview.

Alongside the Laurence Olivier Bursaries given by SOLT, funds are also awarded by The Behrens Foundation, The Casting Directors’ Guild, the estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders and theatrical agent Barry Burnett as part of the bursary scheme. Individual Bursaries can range from £500 to £10,000 and are given at the discretion of the judges.

Previous bursary winners have included Denise Gough, Bryony Hannah, Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Rigby, Vinette Robinson, Juma Sharkah, Michaela Coel and Michael Sheen.

The 2023 recipients can be found below:

The Sir Peter and Lady Saunders Laurence Olivier Bursary                 

Donated by the Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders

Tamsin Benn (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)


The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by The Clothworkers’ Foundation

Abdelaziz Sanusi (The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)


Behrens Foundation Bursary         

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by The Behrens Foundation

Arabella Smith-James (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)

Benjamin Skym (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)

Ellie Roberts (SLP College Leeds)

Matt Underhill  (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)

Mehmet Yakar (Drama Studio London)

Joseph Stanley (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)

Shakeel Haakim (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)


Carmen Silvera Bursary     

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by the agent Barry Burnett

Ashlyn Joely (Urdang)


Laurence Olivier & Casting Directors’ Guild Bursary     

Donated by Society of London Theatre with additional donation by the Casting Directors’ Guild                

Chantelle Amon (The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)


Laurence Olivier Society Of London Theatre Bursary  

Ben McGuinness (Italia Conti)

Georgi Arthur (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)

Jake Evans (ArtsEd)

Nina Cassells (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

Tateyana Arutura (London Academy of Music and Drama)

Zannie Stutely (Royal Conservatoire Scotland)