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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 fulfil 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.

This year’s winners

18 drama school students from across the UK have been awarded a total of £64,500 in bursaries by the Society of London Theatre and other donors, to help them complete their training.

The Laurence Olivier Bursary recipients will attend the Olivier Awards 2020 with Mastercard on Sunday 5 April at the Royal Albert Hall, where they will be presented with their certificates on the red carpet.

Meet some of the 2019 Laurence Olivier Bursary winners in our video below:


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Lee Menzies, Chair of the Laurence Olivier Bursaries Committee, said:

‘It is fantastic to be able to award the Laurence Olivier Bursaries each year, and I want to thank all the generous donors who, alongside SOLT, are committed to helping talented individuals overcome financial hardship and realise their potential.

‘The impressive list of past bursary winners, some of whom have gone on become household names, demonstrates the importance of recognising and supporting talent from all backgrounds, ensuring theatre and the creative arts continue to thrive in this country.’

Full list of 2019 Bursary recipients:

Behrens Foundation Bursary

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

Alicia Forde – Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Talia Nyathi – Manchester School of Theatre
Timothy Oziegbe – Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Tommy Siman – Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Casting Directors’ Guild Bursary

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by members of the Casting Directors’ Guild

Caleb Obediah – Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Tommy Sim’aan – Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

The Sir Peter and Lady Saunders Laurence Olivier Bursary

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by the estate of Lady Saunders

Sean Hanratty – Guildford School of Acting

Carmen Silvera Bursary

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

Shannen McNeice – Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Laurence Olivier Bursary

Donated by Society of London Theatre

Natalie Blair – The Academy of Live & Recorded Arts
Alana Chokarian – Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance
Christopher Coniston – Arts Educational Schools London
Lydia Barton Lovett – Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance
Mali O’Donnell – Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Felixe Forde – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Olivia Forrest – East 15 Acting School
Guy Hodgkinson – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Olivia Nakintu – London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art
Ellie Ruiz Rodriguez – Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
George Smale – Drama Centre