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Yale Announces The Winners Of The Inaugural Misty Upham Award For Young Native Actors

This award was created to encourage and honor Native Actors Under 25, by offering them a cash prize, physical award, performance opportunities and platform.

Yale Announces The Winners Of The Inaugural Misty Upham Award For Young Native Actors

The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program has announced the Winners of the Inaugural Misty Upham Award for Young Native Actors. This award was created to encourage and honor Native Actors Under 25, by offering them a cash prize, physical award, performance opportunities and platform. The award was created in memory of Blackfeet actress Misty Upham (August Osage County, Frozen River, Edge of America) to honor her legacy and dream of lifting up more Native Youth in the performing arts.

Actors submit for the award by performing monologues by accomplished Native playwrights. The panel of judges this year included: Mary Kathryn Nagle (Playwright), Tara Moses (Playwright/Director), Asa Benally (Designer), DeLanna Studi (Artistic Director, Native Voices at the Autry), Kenny Ramos (Actor), Claire Burke (CSA, Tara Rubin Casting). The judges were so inspired by all of this year's submissions and excited that this is an annual award, so actors can re-submit for it each year as they grow.

This year's winner is Isabella Star Lablanc, who will receive a $500 cash prize as part of the honoring. Isabella Star LaBlanc is a Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota actress, born and raised in Minnesota. Isabella has been seen at theaters across the country, including: The Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC; Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; The Jungle Theater; Mixed Blood Theater; Children's Theater Company; and The Minnesota History Theater. Isabella is an alumna of the CBS Network Drama Diversity Casting Initiative and has been seen in a number of independent films. She is the narrator for the New York Times Bestselling novel "Firekeeper's Daughter" by Angeline Boulley for Macmillan Audio. And she is currently filming the first season of "Long Slow Exhale" from Paramount TV Studios and Spectrum Originals. She honors all those that have kept our stories alive.

This Saturday May 1st at 7:30 PM PST/ 4:30 PST, there will be an honoring ceremony livestreamed to The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program's Facebook page. The program will include remarks honoring Misty's legacy from Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, Misty's Family, Red Eagle Soaring: Native Youth Theatre, and More. The awards will be presented by celebrated Native Actors: Kimberly Guerrero, Sera Lys McArthur, and DeLanna Studi.

Winners:

Winner (The Misty Upham Award):

Isabella Star Lablanc (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota)

Finalists:

Emery Barrera (Klamath/Lakota)

Emily Preis (Osage)

Honorable Mentions:

Lexsy Mckowen (Choctaw)

Benny Wayne Sully (Sicangu Lakota Oyate)

Special Youth Prize (For actors under 18)

Winner: Gia Fisher (Northern Cheyenne)

Finalist: Henry Cargill (Acoma-Pueblo)

Honorable Mention: Caroline Clark (Muscogee (Creek)/Cherokee)

The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP) works to promote and cultivate indigenous storytelling and performance to further authentic representation at Yale and in Indian Country. Our core values are Performance, Research, Academics, and Outreach in an effort to bare the importance of indigenous storytelling and help develop a space for Native performers in all capacities.


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