TCG Announces 2023 Recipients of Willa Kim Costume Design Scholarship

The Scholarship honors costume designer Willa Kim's legacy and her life's work as a pioneer, legend, and inspiration for many of today's theatre artists.

By: Mar. 07, 2023
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

TCG Announces 2023 Recipients of Willa Kim Costume Design Scholarship

Theatre Communications Group has announced Kaʻiukapu Baker, Claudia Brownlee, and Lia Wallfish as the recipients of The Willa Kim Costume Design Scholarship 2023. Administered by TCG with support from The Estate of Willa Kim, the Scholarship provides exceptionally talented costume designers who are enrolled in a university or professional training program with the opportunity to supplement their fine arts training in hand-drawing and painting. The Scholarship honors costume designer Willa Kim's legacy and her life's work as a pioneer, legend, and inspiration for many of today's theatre artists. The recipients were announced at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on February 22 at 6:30pm ET as part of the exhibition The Wondrous Willa Kim: Costume Designs for Actors and Dancers. Learn more about the recipients and The Willa Kim Costume Design Scholarship here, and the exhibition here.

"With rapid advances in AI art generators, it's more important than ever to invest in the centuries-old craft of painting and hand-drawing to support the irreplaceable role they play in the human artistry of costume design," said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. "Thanks to The Estate of Willa Kim, this scholarship program will continue to empower early-career costume designers to fully develop their skills. We're especially excited to celebrate these recipients at an exhibition to honor and celebrate Willa Kim's legacy."

"At the beginning of her career, Willa Kim wanted to be an illustrator, and she brought that passion for hand-drawing into her groundbreaking work as a costume designer," said Emilya Cachapero, director of grantmaking programs, TCG. "TCG is proud to support her legacy by ensuring that future generations of costume designers will have the craft needed to realize their creative visions."

The 2023 recipients are:

Kaʻiukapu Baker

is a Native Hawaiian theatre artist from Kahaluʻu, Oʻahu. Raised in the practice of Hana Keaka, she has performed with Ka Hālau Hana Keaka since 2004. Ka'iukapu is currently pursing a MFA in Hawaiian Theatre at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, where she performed in kaipulaumakaniolono's nationally acclaimed He Leo Aloha and the world premiere and New York tour of Haili'ōpua Baker's 'Au'a 'Ia: Holding On. Kaʻiukapu has designed costumes for Holly Chung's ʻŌhiʻa Lehua, Ākea Kahikina's Hoʻoilina, Iāsona Kaper's Ka 'Umikūmālua o nā Pō, and Reiko Ho's devised piece Chinee, Japanese, All Mix Up. Kaʻiukapu is passionate about collaboration in the design process and nurturing relationships with fellow Kanaka Maoli artists in her community.

Claudia Brownlee

is a costume designer from the Washington Metropolitan area. She has worked as a freelance costume designer in the past at NU-World Contemporary Danse Theatre and Pittsburgh Public Theater. Currently, she is pursuing an M.F.A. in Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama ('23). As an artist, Claudia is interested in telling diverse stories bridging cultural gaps and finding ecological design methods for costume designers. Claudia holds an associate's degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and a B.A. in Theater from the University of Maryland College Park.

Lia Wallfish

is a Jewish-Israeli costume designer and painter. Born in Israel, Lia moved to the United States after completion of her military service to pursue her craft. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theater at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently based in Chicago, Illinois where she is a third year student in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Northwestern University. In her art, Lia hopes to challenge conventions she experienced growing up in Israel and is devoted to telling stories that inspire inclusion and healing.

Scholarship recipients receive up to $7,500 to be used towards tuition, registration fees, supplies and/or travel expenses over a one-year period between January 30, 2023 - January 31, 2024. For more information, visit

The Willa Kim Costume Design Scholarship panel included Nephelie Andonyadis, scenic and costume designer; Dede Ayite, costume designer; Linda Cho, costume designer; Alex Jaeger, costume designer, fashion designer, and celebrity stylist; and Anita Yavich, costume designer.

Willa Kim was a costume designer for ballet, theatre, opera, and television. Among many honors were Tony Awards for Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies and Tommy Tune's The Will Rogers Follies, and Tony nominations for Peter Allen's Legs Diamond, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song & Dance, Bob Fosse's Dancin', and Joel Grey's Goodtime Charley. She won Drama Desk Awards for Jean Genet's The Screens, Irene Fornes' Promenade, and Sam Shepard's Operation Sidewinder; Obie Awards for Robert Lowell's The Old Glory and Lanie Robertson's Woman Before A Glass; and Emmy Awards for the PBS broadcasts of Michael Smuin's ballets The Tempest and A Song For Dead Warriors. Ms. Kim received lifetime achievement awards from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. The Theatre Development Fund honored her with the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2007 she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, leads for a just and thriving theatre ecology. Since its founding in 1961, TCG's constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and affiliate organizations and over 7,000 Individual Members. Through its programs and services, TCG reaches over one million students, audience members, and theatre professionals each year. TCG offers networking and knowledge-building opportunities through research, communications, and events, including the annual TCG National Conference, one of the largest nationwide gatherings of theatre people; awards grants and scholarships to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG's partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America's largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature, with 19 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. TCG believes its vision of "a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre" can be achieved through individual and collective action, adaptive and responsive leadership, and equitable representation in all areas of practice. TCG is led by executive director and CEO Teresa Eyring.

Industry Classifieds