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Theatre Department Alums Making Waves

When well-respected magazines publish articles titled “10 Actors to Watch for 2020” or “20 Powerhouse Women Directors Theatre Fans and Industry Pros Alike Need to Know,” it’s no surprise if they mention an Ellington alum or two.

Variety counts alum Jayme Lawson among 2020’s rising stars on a list the publication has created since 1998. Past honorees include over 35 Oscar winners and nominees. This year’s honorees will be feted in the magazine’s Dec. 16 issue and speak on a panel for FYC Fest, which takes place Dec. 15-17.

Jayme makes her film debut in Farewell Amort and is currently shooting a role in The Batman. From “Lawson’s role is being kept under wraps, but it’s a major get for the young actress, who is fresh out of Juilliard. She doesn’t even have an IMDb page yet, but she has signed with UTA, who will surely receive a flood of incoming calls about Lawson now that she’s in talks for a role in the hottest project in town.

“While training at Juilliard, Lawson played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet as well as the title role in Hamlet, and she has also played Lady Macbeth onstage. She also stars as the Lady in Red in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, which is now playing at the Public Theater for the first time since its premiere in 1976.

Playbill considers alum Candis Jones among “directors making waves in the field – and none of them have yet directed for Broadway.” A 2016 Lily Award winner, Candis credits Ellington for driving her to directing.

“I realized that I couldn’t really mind my business as an actress,” she tells Playbill. “I was obsessed with everything from my entrance, to lighting cues, to how the other actors were performing. My former teacher and mentor, Vera J. Katz, observed this and asked me to assist her on the mainstage plays where she frequently asked me my opinion on her directorial choices.

“Since Ellington didn’t have a directing program, Professor Katz allowed me to assist for credit and coach my peers in monologue juries. After the ‘teacher’s pet’ phase faded, I would say folks really trusted my input.”


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