First Prize winner Torinae Norman

The William Tolbert Whittenberg Scholarship for Performing Arts Excellence awards young artists up to $10,000 to pursue advanced study in the performing arts. Applicants eligible for the scholarship are from the Greater Louisville region, between the ages of 16 and 22, and plan to pursue a professional career in performing arts.

In 2021, seven students received a Whittenberg Scholarship, including one First Prize winner and six Second Prize winners.

To learn more about the impact of this scholarship, Mollie LaFavers, the Fund for the Arts Manager of Communications and Engagement, sat down with First Prize winner, Torinae Norman. Torinae is currently a senior studying Musical Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music.

Mollie LaFavers (ML): How did you originally get started doing musical theatre?

Torinae Norman (TN): I started doing musical theatre back in early elementary school. I was at King Elementary and I was in the gifted and talented program. We always put on musicals and plays. That’s when I first got my love for the craft.

It carried me into middle school and I think that’s when I did my first community theatre show, which was The Color Purple at the Jewish Community Center. Being on stage really got me going, like “oh my gosh, I have to do more of this!”

ML: How is the Whittenberg Scholarship helping you achieve your goals and dreams as an artist?

TN: The scholarship has helped propel me into my final year. It helped me go towards getting my degree in this program and graduating and going into the business successfully. It’s really given me a space of confidence as well as to be able to fully immerse myself in my craft and do the best that I can to achieve my goals this year.

ML: What do you hope that people get out of the things that you create?

TN: I hope that it left them with something once they leave the room. What I mean by that is, I hope that they learn something or they took something from that piece of art and took it to heart. Because theatre, it’s meant to share stories and whether you take that and learn something or you come to escape – I think that’s the big reason why I do this, so people who come for those reasons can leave knowing that they had just experienced something new. I think that’s the beauty in it too. So that’s my hope, that someone experiences something new.

ML: Why do you think scholarships, like the Whittenberg Scholarship, that support young artists in furthering their career and education are important?

Torinae Norman performing

TN: I think they are important because it gives artists like myself a chance to propel forward, to continue the dream. Because once you do it for so long and you find yourself in a financial space where it’s difficult to keep going forward, it can become difficult for you to continue your passion.

I feel that scholarships like the Whittenberg Scholarship give us the leeway, that path to go through the door and continue our dreams and go towards making an impact on this world, no matter the size. I think that’s why I’m very grateful for this scholarship. It’s given me the chance to go forward with my dreams and my goals.

ML: What are you planning to do next after you graduate?

TN: My dreams and aspirations and all that jazz include performing on multiple stages. I am passionate about touring and booking shows – hopefully, Broadway. And also, just traveling around and collaborating with other like-minded artists and just getting my art out there and sharing stories for everyone of every background to be able to hear.

ML: Any final thoughts?

TN: I would just like to say that I am thankful for this scholarship and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it!

Click here to learn more about The William Tolbert Whittenberg Scholarship for Performing Arts Excellence.

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