Sol Taibi has won the Luke Westlake Scholarship 2022. The prize was established in 2019 by Just Add Milk (JAM), a charitable theatre group committed to making the industry more accessible to actors from working-class backgrounds.
making the industry more accessible to actors from working-class backgrounds.
The Award is open to students in their second year at either drama school or university in the UK. For Taibi it is a major boost to his career; one that almost didn’t get off the ground. He made multiple applications to drama schools before finally being accepted by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Growing up in working-class Middlesborough his enthusiasm for acting developed from the age of sixteen. He studied for a BTEC in Acting and went on to do a one-year professional acting course in Newcastle, during which time he supported himself by working part-time at Sainsbury's. Perhaps that was a good omen and maybe one day he’ll end up in the heart of theatre-land around Drury Lane where the supermarket chain opened its first store in 1869. He’d already made a start in the industry by performing in theatre in education tours and pantomimes prior to Bristol.
This Scholarship is supported by The Foundry Personal Management and its rewards extend to all eight finalists selected from over 200 applicants. Taibi receives the big prize of over £6,000 in financial and developmental assistance from a number of sources including a one-year Spotlight membership and lunches with leading industry professionals such as Becky Paris (Head of Casting at The Globe). However, upon graduation, they will all be eligible to apply for The Prince William BAFTA Bursary, thanks to Just Add Milk's new partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. That funding is also designed to financially support early-career creatives. The other finalists are Roman Asde, Molly Bryson, Kai Jerdioui (LAMDA), Sam Jolliffe (ArtsEd), Nadia Kamalli and Arabella Smith-James (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School), and Ayọ̀ Peters (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).
The scholarship is named in memory of Luke Westlake, a friend of JAM and a talented actor who trained with them at ArtsEd (2014-17). In their words, he was a “diligent, fierce, working-class actor” His parents, Bridgette and Lee have been passionately supportive of the Scholarship. “We are delighted that the scholarship so kindly dedicated by JAM to the memory of our son Luke continues to grow from strength to strength.”