The Second City Announces Second Annual Victor Wong Fellowship

Learn more aboutt he fellows here!

By: Apr. 24, 2024
The Second City Announces Second Annual Victor Wong Fellowship
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The Second City has announced the second annual Victor Wong Fellowship, a program to train and mentor up-and-coming Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) comedic talent. Named for The Second City's first Asian American performer and funded by the family foundation of Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, the fellowship will focus on developing the next generation of AAPI talent both on stage and “behind the scenes”. The Victor Wong Fellowship is the first program by a major comedy theatre to exclusively endow AAPI talent. 

The 2024 Victor Wong Fellows, selected for their exceptional talent and unique voices, are: 

● Ian Voltaire Deanes 

● Grace Goze 

● Robert Kalia Kapaku 

● Devin Jeong-Wright 

● Johanna Medrano 

● Esther Oh 

● Brian Park 

● Frederic Powers 

● Ateeq Rehman 

● Becca Nix Tham 

Under the Program Leadership of Jonald Reyes and Showcase Director Evan Mills, with Sophia Rafiqi as Assistant Director, Renee Hansel as Production Manager, and Music Director Maya Tanaka Allwardt the fellows will embark on an in-depth master program in improvisation and comedy that will conclude with a series of public and industry showcases scheduled for May 7, 14, 21 and 30, 2024. 

"Beyond professional success on stage and screen, the skills of improvisation are a kind of super-power for life," said Parisa Jalili, COO of The Second City. "We are thrilled that this gift will allow us to train emerging AAPI talent to both hone their comedy skills as well as their skills to be deeply collaborative, resilient, and creative individuals." 

"Comedy connects us by validating our shared experiences and opening our minds to new ones," said Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen. "Further diversifying the comedic community will help move this important medium—and the society it serves—forward. We are excited to help bring the unique perspectives of AAPI talent to the stage." 

The Second City is excited to set the stage for this new era of comedic talent and amplify the voices of the AAPI community.

For more information about The Victor Wong Fellowship and other initiatives at The Second City, please contact: 

The Victor Wong Fellowship builds on Mr. Zhao and his families longstanding commitment to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for the 23 million members of the AAPI community in the United States. Mr. Zhao is a founding board member of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), which has become a catalyzing force for improving AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society. Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen have convened and funded a variety of other initiatives focused on supporting Chicago and the AAPI community, including most recently The Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen Fund for AAPI Voices in partnership with Kartemquin Films. 



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